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Weaving climate issues into governance is paramount

Most green parties have faced difficulty in winning over Parliaments and electorates

Weaving climate issues into governance is paramount
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Weaving climate issues into governance is paramount

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At the moment, governments are supposed to carry out climate action when necessary, as climate is part of a list of concerns to be dealt with and not something that is built into the foundations of governance itself. Instead of a government that takes measures when required, we could witness monumental change if environmental concerns become the very basis of governance

Governance is commonly defined as the process of overseeing the affairs of a country or an organization, and is linked to ideas of management and leadership. By governing, we control how an entity operates and the direction it moves in, and in the face of the tremendous climate change challenges the world faces, no paradigm of governance can disregard climate issues. However, a shift in approach is needed as, at the moment, climate is contained within the larger ambit of governance, operating as a subcategory. This needs to be altered and environmental and climatic concerns need to be integral to governance. In other words, instead of making governance accomplish green aims, governance itself has to become green and climate issues have to be woven into it. Verene Fritz, writing for the World Bank, notes how the years 2020 and 2021 included a record number of climate-related disasters from floods to hurricanes, droughts and wildfires.

The adverse effects of innumerable climate disasters were evident in countries across various regions and income levels. Governments had insufficient warning systems in place, lacked fire-fighting resources and scrambled to deliver help effectively to people in the aftermath and the magnitude of losses put further strain on fiscal resources already stretched by a pandemic well into its second year. It can be well-imagined what caused such an unfavourable circumstance where governments were unprepared to deal with disasters - the separation of governance and climate action. At the moment, governments are supposed to carry out climate action when necessary, as climate is part of a list of concerns to be dealt with and not something that is built into the foundations of governance itself. Instead of a government that takes measures when required, we could witness monumental change if environmental concerns become the very basis of governance.

This way, everything a government does will be motivated by climatic and environmental considerations, instead of an approach where action is taken when trouble arrives. This is a model that several Green Parties across the world have espoused in their own ways where environmentalism is a central, foundational concern for politics. While most Green Parties have faced difficulty in winning representation in Parliaments and electorates, it is to be understood that the environment is not just supposed to be a priority for political outfits committed to it but to each of us. Governance, no matter who rules a country, has to be informed and driven by a goal to support environmental causes in the interest of larger public and human welfare.

When we think about what could happen if climate issues did become inextricably woven into governance, promising outcomes beckon. By default, countries will be better prepared for volatile climates, divert infrastructural efforts towards sustainability and bolster policy intervention and implementation and build resilience against disasters. It will make meeting goals such as the ones imagined in international declarations like the Paris Agreement, where countries agreed to hold global average temperature rise below 2°C and, if possible, 1.5°C, easier as governance itself will be based on environmental protection. Furthermore, this will also usher in a new era of international collaborations.

As Verene Fritz notes, "[…] rapid and massive peer learning will be needed on how to govern in the age of climate change, as this is new territory for everyone. Some developing countries may have things to teach to richer ones – e.g. the Caribbean to others beginning to experience more frequent and larger scale storms and floods. Attention and collaboration need to start now to build effective and accountable governance while taking urgent policy action to adapt and to enter the path to net zero."

On the whole, to fight back climate change, action is required urgently but it has to come from a place where the significance of a healthier planet is at the root of all collective mobilizations. For this, governance has to restructure itself and let every move become environment-friendly. After all, a prosperous future for humanity can only unfold on a planet that keeps itself secure. To this end, we must make our politics more vigilant and the drive our idea of governance in green direction.

(The author is Founder & CEO Upsurge Global and Adjunct Professor and Advisor EThames College)

Viiveck Verma
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