"The Role of African Parliamentarians in the Implementation of the Paris Agreement: Challenges and Prospects". An international parliamentary workshop of GLOBE Nigeria-AfDB-ECOWAS and partners was implemented in Abuja to build the capacity of African parliamentarians in supporting effective implementation and monitoring of the African NDCs.
The workshop was declared open by the President of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, H.E. Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki, CON ably represented by the Chairperson, Senate committee on Environment, H.E. Senator Oluremi Tinubu. Other guest present at the opening session of the workshop included the Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, H.E Moustapha Cisse Lo, the Country Director for Nigeria, AfDB, Ebrima Faal, representatives of the Honorable Minister of Environment of Nigeria, and the FAO.
In their separate remarks, the dignitaries praised the unique partnership between GLOBE Nigeria, the African Development Bank (AfDB) and ECOWAS in delivering the workshop. They emphasized that members of Parliament play an important role in shaping and influencing national policies and legislation, including by scrutinizing government action, fostering development planning, and making decisions on resource allocation, among others.
It was noted that with the adoption of the Paris Agreement and development of the NDCs, Parliamentarians are expected to play a leading role in ensuring that climate actions are ‘domesticated’ at national and local levels, by using national legislations and policies. With the NDCs forming a core part of the Paris Agreement, legislators will play a central role in ratifying and overseeing the implementation of these commitments.
African Parliamentarians are uniquely placed to ensure the effective implementation of the NDCs, in helping shape national legislation consistent with global efforts to address climate change, and considering national specific circumstances. This therefore requires specific actions to empower African Parliamentarians with the necessary skills to help them influence the national processes regarding the NDCs. As implementation arrangements of the Paris Agreement and NDCs are being developed, it becomes imperative to strengthen the capacity of African Parliamentarians to ensure an effective oversight role towards NDC implementation in their respective countries.
Speakers at the workshop includes, Mr. Innocent Onah, National Coordinator of GLOBE Nigeria, Honorable Sam Onuigbo, Vice President of GLOBE Nigeria, Dr. Peter Tarfa, Director of Climate Change, Federal Ministry of Environment, Nicholas Dunlop, Secretary-General, Climate Parliament, Anthony Nyong, Director, Department of Climate and Green Growth, AfDB; Gareth Phillips, Manager, Climate Finance, AfDB; Dr. Eugene Itua, CEO of Eco Natural Capital, Dr. Chidi Magnus and Engr. Richard Okibe, MRV Consultants. Paper presentations covered different topics including an overview of NDCs in Africa, mobilizing resources for NDC implementation in Africa, parliamentary action on climate change in Africa, NDCs and MRVs in key sectors of African economies, agriculture and food security under the NDCs, energy and climate change, ensuring compliance for effective implementation, mainstreaming gender and youth for green jobs in Africa’s NDCs, parliamentary oversight, elements of an NDC toolkit for parliamentarians, national parliamentary action plans and lesson sharing and cross-border collaboration among MPs. MPs that attended the workshop came from Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia and Uganda.
One major take-away from the workshop was a proposal for African MPs to work together to create an African Legislative Climate Action Plan (ALCA) that will coordinate all efforts and measures taken by African parliaments, holistically, to ensure a low-carbon economic development pathway towards sustainable benefit sharing that is consistent with national climate goals and the Paris Agreement, including strengthening oversight and implementation of national and international commitments. The modus operandi of this Action Plan will be developed to be inclusive and open ended. Terms and conditions to be fine-tuned in close collaboration with the African Development Bank Group and other partners.
Recent experience has shown that investing in parliamentary action offers a great deal of advantage and can have a significant multiplier effect. Legislators can influence national policy, establish strong legal frameworks, channel spending in new directions and set stronger targets for action on climate change. More importantly, Parliaments are not only well placed to scrutinize how governments are responding to national and international climate change issues, but can also hold their executives to account over their actions, or lack thereof.
Legislative oversight is an important means of ensuring that international financial assistance for mitigation and adaptation measures is accounted for and used in the most effective way. Well-informed climate legislation can bring significant national and local co-benefits, including strengthened energy security, improved health, reduced disaster risk, increased access to sustainable energy, investment in clean and domestic energy sources, and creation of high-quality jobs and better air quality.