Climate Deal 2015

Colombia's INDC: An opportunity to engage citizens

As the momentum around a global climate change agreement continues to build, all countries party to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) are expected to deliver their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) before October 2015. This will allow for a synthesis report on the aggregate effect of the INDCs, which will be presented ahead of the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) in December in Paris. INDCs have become a way to engage all countries in a climate change solution regardless of their particular development paths or categorization as “developed” or “developing”.

As part of the Alianza Independiente de Latinoamerica y el Caribe (AILAC) negotiating bloc, Colombia has supported an ambitious global agreement where INDCs include mitigation, adaptation, and means of implementation. While the scope of the INDCs has been left heavily focused on mitigation and it is unclear what other elements parties will be included, INDCs present a unique opportunity to re-imagine our economies and the directions we want to steer them in. INDC negotiations represent a perfect opportunity to incorporate climate into larger development agendas.

According to the World Resources Institute (WRI), a successful INDC will need to be ambitious while still realistic, transparent, and equitable. For Colombia, it is critical to include detailed plans for moving away from a high-carbon economy as well as mitigating climate risks and enhancing resiliency. Such plans need to be envisioned with a clear strategy for implementation.

At the moment, all of Colombia’s progress remains closed to the public. Fortunately, the government has specific plans to launch a website for the process of INDC development and will display Colombia’s role in the road to Paris. This will be key in order to translate COP issues into publicly accessible language and strengthen lines of communication between different key players. Equally important, it will serve as a platform to highlight why the COP21 in Paris matters to Colombia and how our country can lead in favor of sustainable development.

We are happy to see other positive examples in the region. Mexico for instance has been keen on including civil society groups in its negotiating team, encouraging dialogue and transparency before and during the climate negotiations. Chile has also been an example of what inclusive public participation looks like. The Chilean Ministry of Environment has started a public participation process lasting until the end of March for civil society and citizens to give feedback on what the country’s INDC should look like. The process will also entail different informational regional sessions in four cities across the country, which have been selected based on their vulnerability to climate change and the mitigation opportunities in each.

During COP20, Nivela published a piece on why it is essential to include the public in responses to climate change. We believe this is critical on the road to Paris, given what is at stake for each of our countries. Processes of public participation and the active involvement of civil society enhance the construction of public policy, and add creativity, innovation and legitimacy to the process.

Colombia should closely follow the examples set by other countries in the region and leverage this opportunity to build and support sustainable development in the country. Current efforts to engage a wider audience in Colombia should continue and be enhanced in order to build strong country ownership and increase effectiveness in the implementation of climate response. While at the end of this year the negotiations are expected to deliver a global agreement, the work on climate change is just beginning. This issue will define the coming decades and we must lay out a foundational groundwork that ensures transparency, dialogue, and collaboration are part of our response to climate change.

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