October 3, 2022, Monday
Nepal 1:37:26 pm

Climate change as an important agenda in local level elections

The Nepal Weekly
April 19, 2022

By Purna N. Ranjitkar l

Nepal Government had announced the second local elections to be held on 13th May, 2022. All the elections for local representatives will be carried out in one phase only. The five year tenure of elected executives of the local bodies is going to complete soon by mid May 2022. The government decided to hold of the elections according to the Local Level Election Act which does not envisage a vacuum of elected leadership at the local level. The term of local level representatives is due to expire on May 19. 

The Election Commission (EC) had said that there will be around 17.9 million voters in the forthcoming local level election. As per the constitutional arrangement, people above the age of 18 are eligible to cast vote in the election. The forthcoming elections will elect mayors and deputy mayors for 6 metropolitan cities and 11 sub-metropolitan cities, 276 municipalities and chairperson and deputy chairpersons for 460 rural municipalities. Similarly 6,743 ward chairpersons and 26,972 ward members will be elected. Moreover, a ward in a local level have a chairperson and 4 members out of which 2 must be female with 1 one of them from the Dalit community. Nepali citizens who completed 18 years will cast their votes to choose the leaders exercising the constitutional provision while they can receive citizenship certificate after completing 16 year age.

These days, political parties are at the stage of deciding suitable candidates and announce accordingly. The voters are also begun talking the competent candidates who can carry the local agenda with priority.

Good governance, development of infrastructures, construction of roads, health facilities, youth employment are the prime subject matters taken well in the manifestos. Forest management and electricity services to people are also mentioned to allure the voters. Preservation of culture and tourism development are also the targets they include as the scopes of activities after winning the elections. However, their focus is political matters and to win the elections. The commitments are rarely translated into realty in the past. The leaders do not like to remember some commitments that value to the voters and nations as a whole.

Climate change is one of the issues that entire world is facing in global, regional, national and local levels. The effects experienced last and before were at alarming level. Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change had studied and the reports have been published which shows need of immediate actions to be taken to control or reduce climate change effects. (The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is an intergovernmental body of the United Nations responsible for advancing knowledge on human-induced climate change).

Climate change effect in Nepal is no longer a scientific subject. It has been a concern to all. The floods and landslides took place last year are the alarms people and political personalities experienced. Reduced amount of ice seen in the Himalayas, increased temperature in the weather pattern had already shown the live symptoms of the climate change effects in the country. Directly or indirectly that effects bring result in agriculture, water systems, forestry, livelihoods and all socio-economic aspects. Thus, in such a chaotic situation, the local level elections must not just ignore climate change agenda.

Thus local governments should be proactive to implement the available and affordable measures to address the climate change effects.

Mentionably, Nepal has developed various policy instruments including National Climate Change Policy (NCCP) 2019 to reduce climate change risks and impacts and enhance community resilience. It has its second Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) 2020 in place, which aims to contribute to meeting greenhouse gas (GHGs) emission targets set to limit the global temperature rise below 2°C as targeted by the Paris Agreement.

The NCCP and second NDC policy targets that are relevant to the local governments, have been identified considering both the exclusive and concurrent functions of the local, provincial, and federal governments as laid out in the constitution of Nepal (Annex 8 and 9), and the provisions in the Local Government Operation Act (LGOA), 2017.

The second NDC mitigation targets, which are relevant to local governments are mostly focused on promoting technologies; integrating mitigation related activities into local government plans; inclusive process of developing policies on energy, waste management; and agriculture, forestry and other land use (AFOLU) sectors. Second NDC targets are also related to setting up and capacitating institutions required to lead mitigation activities; and integrating climate change into school curriculum. However, despite some previous experience in implementing similar activities, the local governments do not have adequate knowledge and skills to work for achieving the mitigation targets.

Localization of NCCP and second NDC in line with the concerned international policy instruments including the Paris Agreement and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) entails three major parts: developing or updating climate change policies, implementing climate change policies, and ensuring positive interplay through coordination.

Thus, reduce use of fossil fuels and biomass must be taken as priority. Electricity for cooking, micro small and cottage industries, transportation must be taken into priority. The renewable energy technologies suitable for local levels are easily available these days.   

Therefore, the political parties, their candidate and other who stand for electing to lead the local level are advised to take understand the global, regional and national issue related to climate change and possible solutions. Likewise, they are also advised to up take the issue at the local levels and functionalities to efficiently ustilise the available knowledge and skill. The INGOs, NGOs and other organisations dedicated to research, study and impart knowledge and skill can available their services. Moreover, enhancing will power on the leaders and would be elected leaders can borrow knowledge from such institutions.

Recently, before when political parties were supposed to be engaged in preparing manifesto, leading non-government organisations had submitted their statements reflecting above mentioned situation, the available measures and capacity building on the subject matter so as local leaders will be truly leading the climate change crisis to reduce for the benefit of people and planet.