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OPINION: The impact of 2014 elections on climate change governance in Mozambique


After the presidential elections in 2014, Mozambique underwent significant changes in government to reduce bureaucracy and government spending. Celso Tamele, a biosystems engineer and consultant, considers the consequences for climate change governance.

 

Mozambique faces development challenges that are a result, amongst other factors, of civil war and geographical location with an extensive and populous coastline. These are exacerbated by climate change, which regularly causes flooding in the low-lying coastal lands. These challenges have been recognised by government since 1994 when Mozambique began to develop policies and strategies related to environmental preservation and more recently more related to climate change.

Post-election institutional architecture for climate change

Prior to the 2014 elections, climate compatible development was implemented by several ministries. Following presidential elections in October 2014, Mozambique’s governance arrangements changed and included the reduction of ministries from 28 to 22, merging existing ministries, transferring functions and resources, and changing ministries’ names. The old Ministry of Environmental Coordination, which dealt purely with environment and climate compatible development, has now been subsumed into the Ministry of Lands, Environment and Rural Development (MITADER), potentially downgrading the visibility of climate considerations.

These changes were justified as necessary to reduce government expenditure and bureaucracy. Although the changes were implemented for perceived advantages, it may happen that unintended effects of changing delicate balances in institutional arrangements may hinder the implementation of short, mid and long term strategies.

At first glance by bringing together two key sectors (land and conservation areas), reduced bureaucracy should allow the ministry to improve implementation of policies on sustainable land use and environment. However, if the implementing directorates are not allocated the necessary human and financial resources and available ministerial budget, it may hinder ongoing efforts towards climate compatible development because the implementation arena is still very wide, even if the coordination and mandates have been streamlined.

Previously, three of the ministry’s seven directorates oversaw environmental areas, including environmental management, environmental assessment and environmental promotion. Following the elections, there is only one directorate focused on environmental issues – the National Directorate for Environment.

Climate change is now mentioned explicitly as a function of the new National Directorate for Environment, which must focus on the: “Design and implementation of projects on the reduction of soil degradation for the control of wildfires, desertification and drought, adaptation and mitigation to climate change, recovery of contaminated areas, sensible ecosystems, management of wetlands and environmental education. Therefore it seems clear that the new Ministry of Lands, Environment and Rural Development has a more formalised mandate than the previous ministry to implement climate compatible development activities.

Coordination of climate compatible development

Technical coordination of climate change action occurs through the National Council for Sustainable Development, an inter-ministerial consultative body for the Council of Ministers responsible for approving laws and regulations. This body has a Technical Council composed by 16 members, each one overseeing a thematic area of interest (for example environment, planning and development). In the new arrangements, climate change representatives will remain on the Technical Council, now chaired by the Ministry of Lands, Environment and Rural Development, which is now also solely responsible for the thematic areas related to environment, forestry, land and conservation areas.

Budget dynamics related to CCD

Budget dynamics also appear to have shifted post elections. Annual state budgets show that from 2014 to 2015 the budget allocation to climate change increased from USD 6.8 million to 42.7 million. However, these budget increases don’t necessarily indicate a considerable increase in spending on climate compatible development, but rather a broadening of what is considered climate-related activity. 89% of the 2015 budget and 74% of the 2016 budget is for the climate resilience project Cities and Climate change (2013 to 2017). For 2016, the funds will be distributed amongst 5 implementing entities: the Ministry of State Administration and Public Function, the National Institute for Disaster Management, the Ministry of Lands, Environment and Rural Development, the National Fund for the Environment, the National Institute for Irrigation and the Ministry for Public Works, Housing and Water Resources.

There’s a clear reduction in the percentage budget allocation to the Ministry of Lands, Environment and Rural Development as per the total budget. The National Institute for Disaster Management budget also decreased significantly from 2012 to 2016, with a small increase in 2015. In general, this budget is allocated to the implementation of climate change interventions that include technical assistance, adaptation and mainstreaming. From the 2016 budget it is clear that modest budgets have been allocated to these activities.

What does this mean for climate compatible development in Mozambique?

It is too soon to predict how the new system will affect climate management and action in Mozambique. The shifts are positive in a number of ways. There appears to be a more explicit focus on tackling climate change matters and more formalised climate governance arrangements, including a climate change unit. In the new government structure, the Ministry of Lands, Environment and Rural Development appears to have taken on more responsibility in the climate arena. However, an increase in responsibilities in other sectors may reduce the separate visibility of climate compatible development, despite the potential for improved integration across the climate, land and rural development sectors.

From a budget perspective, despite the increased responsibility to tackle climate change matters, its funds for climate-related activities are limited. The ministry also has a role to play in championing the mainstreaming of climate change into sector budgets. Climate resilience via municipality strengthening on governance and relevant infrastructure is a clear priority for government. The ministry now has the challenge to ensure budget allocations to climate compatible development in other relevant sectors.

 

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