C40 Voices: Hastings Chikoko, C40 Regional Director for Africa

In this post, Hastings Chikoko draws on lessons from Brazil and C40 research efforts to discuss the importance of clear frameworks for coordination between African national and local governments on reducing emissions and climate risks.

The Challenge in Africa

In Africa, multiple levels of decision-making across the different tiers of government have virtually paralyzed implementation of critical climate actions. Experts are increasingly calling for the development of legal and policy frameworks that facilitate the devolution of decision-making power to local authorities, and the transfer of resources to sub-national governments.1 These much-needed frameworks in Africa should allow for local capacity building and knowledge transfer, as well as the participation of interest groups through stakeholder platforms such as city networks.

There is also need to put in place financing mechanisms that ensure fair and timely revenue sharing between national and local governments, but that also improve the absorption capacity of funding allocated to cities. National governments should not give unfunded mandates to local governments, but at the same time local governments should ensure maximum utilization of funding that is allocated to them.

Learning from Brazil 

C40 Cities in Brazil offer a positive example of how national and local governments have worked together to promote low-carbon development. In Brazil, cities are making efforts to integrate transportation and housing projects — and this is how most of the new BRT projects are moving forward. São Paulo, for example, was the first city in Brazil to approve transit-oriented developments by integrating transportation with new urban building developments. Among other things, the city gave special property developments permits around the BRT lines.

This is possible in Brazil because of the commitment from the Federal Government, whose 2001 Statute of Cities provided for a number of urban instruments that facilitate more sustainable cities through mixed-use development. The goal was to integrate land use, housing and transportation projects to promote a more sustainable growth for Brazilian cities.

The Federal Government approved legislation encouraging cities to have an integrated sustainable mobility master plan in place by 2015. Besides these legal requirements, the Federal Government also approved programs (Programa de Aceleração do Crescimento, or Program to Accelerate Growth) designed to help cities accelerate integrated infrastructure projects through the provision of resources and training. These programs are only accessible to cities with master plans and targeted integrated projects, and have driven a majority of the new BRT projects underway in Brazilian cities today.

C40 Data and Tools Support Efforts

The empowerment of cities is a global trend championed and advanced by the C40 organization. Our research team has analyzed the extent to which mayors have powers over sectors and assets representing the majority of greenhouse gas emissions in a city. C40 then uses the results to put forward an argument for devolution of decision-making and prioritization of action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. C40 findings show that more than 80 percent of C40 Mayors have decision-making powers and control over outdoor lighting, city streets and parking. Most of C40 Mayors (approximately 60%) control transit systems, solid waste and building codes while only 50% have lead authority over city planning decisions.

In addition to its research demonstrating mayoral actions and powers, C40 is working with ICLEI, WRI and other international partners to develop a Global Protocol for Community-scale Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GPC). At the recent ICLEI Africa Congress, C40 worked with partners to deliver a training workshop on the GPC for C40 and other cities in Africa – providing just the kind of local capacity-building and tools needed to facilitate national-local coordination on climate action.

The Local Climate Solutions for Africa 2013 Congress was convened by ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability and Dar es Salaam City Council. Held from October 30 – November 1, 2013, the Congress convened leaders and technical officials from local government and their associations across Africa, technical experts and researchers, national governments, development partners, business, industry, and NGOs; under the theme: “Africa transitioning: embracing urbanization, responding to change and harnessing opportunities.”

Stay tuned for latest data on mayoral climate actions and powers in C40 Climate Action in Megacities report to be released at the upcoming C40 Mayors Summit in Johannesburg.

Click here for more information on a GPC training workshop held recently for European C40 cities.

1At the recent ICLEI 2013 Congress on Local Climate Solutions for Africa in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, I participated in an Africa-focused panel discussion on multi-level governance for climate resilient, low carbon development. Other panelists included Jumanne Sagini from the Ministry of Regional Administration and Local Government in Tanzania, Hakeem Ogunbambi from Lagos State Government in Nigeria, Rose Mwebaza from UNDP, Kobie Brand from ICLEI, Alison Cambray from Climate and Development Knowledge Network, and Sithole Mbanga from South African Cities Network.