Helping parliaments across the Southern African Customs Union region address climate change

Parliamentarians can play a key role in building climate resilience by bringing constituents' concerns into national forums, scrutinising how governments are responding to domestic and global climate change issues, and ensuring policy continuity.

2010 - 2012
Anna Schulz

Head of global climate law policy and governance programme, Climate Change

People visiting a village with solar panels

Southern African parliamentarians on a fact finding mission to the Kuyasa Clean Development Mechanism Project in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, South Africa (Photo: Achala Abeysinghe/IIED)

IIED helped boost the capacity of members of parliament in the Southern African Customs Union to engage effectively with climate change.

This work was done in collaboration and partnership with the Association of European Parliamentarians with Africa; the UK branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA-UK); the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the UK's Department for International Development (DFID). We launched programmes across Botswana, Ghana, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, Scotland, South Africa and Swaziland.

Building climate change capacity in Ghana

In 2010, the government of Ghana developed a discussion document titled the 'National Climate Change Policy Framework (NCCPF)'. This set out a cross-sectoral vision on climate change and was supported by the Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda 2010-13. The NCCPF aimed to achieve low carbon growth, sustainable and equitable development and a climate-resilient and climate-compatible economy.

In 2012, Ghana's Minister of Environment, Science and Technology, with agreement from parliamentarians, asked IIED for support in building an awareness and engagement programme on climate change.

The programme helped parliamentarians and the parliamentary services better understand climate change impacts within their country and how MPs might best respond to these challenges at local, national, regional and international levels.

IIED provided technical support, assessed knowledge gaps, and helped build awareness around international and national climate change issues. We convened a workshop in the UK to bring together MPs from Ghana and the UK, the UK's Climate Change Committee (independent advisors to government), researchers from IIED and DFID, and other stakeholders.

Our researchers also spent several weeks in Ghana across a six-month period forging links with multiple stakeholders, assessing MP and support staff's knowledge needs and their thinking around climate change issues, impacts and challenges.

The research produced several key findings:

  • Parliamentarians can and should play a pivotal role in shaping climate change policy
  • Long-term engagement with the entire parliamentary system is an essential step in building up institutional knowledge and cross-party trust, and
  • This engagement must involve the parliamentary service, including researchers, parliamentary and committee clerks and so on. Institutional-level capacity building for parliamentary service staff is essential if climate change considerations are to become a mainstream part of policy.

The engagement programme received strong interest across Ghana's government: from both the majority and minority leader, the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology's technical director, and a cross section of active MPs from Ghana's NPP and NDC parties.

Following the programme, a set of MPs and clerks developed and submitted a formal proposal to establish a climate change committee that will address climate change issues across the whole of parliament.