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The political economy of climate change and development

Climate change financing initiatives have emerged as a prominent part of international development activities through the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and it has become evident that political factors are vital in ensuring that the international initiatives achieve both their climate change and development objectives. This briefing makes the case for improving how global climate change initiatives integrate national and local contexts using political economy analysis to examine how initiatives are driven by political ideologies, how they are negotiated between groups with different interests and incentives, and the governance arrangements for their implementation. It draws on case studies to ask how political economy analysis can improve the design and delivery of international climate change initiatives, particularly by incorporating national and local contexts.

The briefing highlights the following salient issues:

  • climate change and development initiatives are perceived to be failing to meet their objectives and difficulties in governance and implementation due to a failure to integrate national and local political realities as evidenced by case studies from Mozambique, Nepal and Bangladesh
  • the goals and methods of international initiatives reflect different ideologies, cultures, beliefs and interests of different stakeholder groups and should be understood and negotiated in the design and implementation of climate change initiatives, they may prevent synergies between climate change and development outcomes
  • effective climate change consultation and negotiation with multiple groups requires time and resources but there is a risk that the objectives of climate change and development initiatives may only reflect a narrow set of interests, as evidenced by a case study from Mozambique.

The briefing calls upon policymakers in the design and implementation of climate change initiatives to use political economy analysis to:

  • integrate international initiatives with national contexts in order to pay sufficient attention to stakeholders’ interests and governance arrangements at national levels
  • understand policy processes to ensure that they reflect the complexity and cross-scale nature of climate change and development interactions
  • negotiate with multiple actors and interests through providing guidelines and resources for national stakeholder dialogue to negotiate the governance arrangements for international initiatives
  • understand changing incentives to avoid attempts to secure funding for particular groups at the expense of others.