Anthropology, Weather & Climate Change

The governance and politics of climate change adaptation and mitigation in Africa
Location Senate House - G21A
Date and Start Time 27 May, 2016 at 11:30
Sessions 1


  • Irit Eguavoen (University of Bonn) email

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Short Abstract

The panel intends to share and discuss empirical research on the governance and politics of climate change adaptation and GHG mitigation by assembling studies from the Gambia, DR Congo and Ghana.

Long Abstract

African governments have responded to the global climate policy framework by submitting National Communications, National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPA) and Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMA) to the UNFCCC secretariat, as well as by setting up political frameworks and arenas for climate change governance. There is, however, little academic debate about the politics that accompany these processes.Though many activities are on-going that are labelled climate change adaptation, many NAPA and NAMA programs have not yet started due to their high dependency on foreign funds.

The panel intends to share and discuss empirical research on the governance and politics of adaptation and mitigation in Africa by assembling ethnographic studies. The Gambia is showcased as good example in climate diplomacy and recipient of aid despite being an electoral authocracy. There is a narrative about the DR Congo to be a ´good student´ in implementing REDD+ policy despite the non-reduction of national deforestation rates. And direct aid flows from internatioal donors to a local NGO in Ghana for the implementation of adaptation programs seem not supportive of the local and national structures for climate change governance.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.


Expert work, trust building, accountability and political legitimacy in the Gambia

Author: Irit Eguavoen (University of Bonn)  email

Short Abstract

The paper shows how national climate experts have created accountability towards donors and political legitimacy in environmental governance under an authoritarian regime.

Long Abstract

The study argues that the global trend of up-scaling environmental governance to supranational (and undemocratic) organisations while downscaling environmental management to user communities of natural resources is especially attractive in countries with authoritarian leadership. It also supports the argument by Hagmann and Reyntjens that donors complicit in fostering development without democracy despite promoting the opposite.

The Gambia, an electoral autocracy in West Africa, is pro-active in climate diplomacy and successful in competing over global adaptation funds. It has won a GEF fund for a coastal project and needs to prove good governance and accountability towards donors on behalf of other African LDCs which would like to receive similar climate funds. The paper analyses the production of climate knowledge and documents, as well as the political response to sea level rise, which was declared the national adaptation priority. Findings illustrate from a states-at-work perspective how the tight expert network has succeeded in creating a positive country image towards the UNFCCC secretariat. It shows how these experts have opened space for climate adaptation and how this is based on a system of triple legitimacy (knowledge, swimming with the system, and the systematic link between national and global offices).

Deconstructing the REDD+ narrative: A comparison of discourses and practices in the implementation of the politics in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Author: Camille Reyniers (Free University of Brussels)  email

Short Abstract

Based on ethnographic data, the paper deconstructs the "ownership" discourse of the REDD+ policy in the Democratic Republic of Congo claimed by international agencies, by describing the practices of national and international actors on the ground.

Long Abstract

Since 2009, a large number of tropical countries are preparing the implementation of REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation and the role of conservation, management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries). REDD+ is the headlight incentive of the international climate regime post Kyoto in order to make developing countries participate in international mitigation efforts. The United Nations, the World Bank and other multilateral donors support this process in the Congo Basin. These agencies expect from tropical African countries to integrate REDD+ in their national policies by implementing activities for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, usually by the way they shaped it: carbon sequestration measurement tools and socio-economic guaranties (safeguards). Now multilateral agencies are leading the way in Africa, by determining the success-story and influencing the implementation of ground activities. By using discourse analysis, the paper demonstrates how REDD+, which was developed by scientific researchers, international institutions and agencies, has become a new global promise in the international development world (Aidland).

The ethnography proposes the construction of the REDD+ mythology in the DR Congo. Based on a six-month fieldwork, we describe the construction of a common narrative about the figure of the "good student", assigned by the donors to the DRC and highlight the disconnection of the narrative with the effective reduction of deforestation.

Creating coherence between governmental and non-governmental governance structures: Exploring the effects of NGO adaptation intervention programmes on local politics in Northern Ghana.

Author: Renée Stam (Utrecht University )  email

Short Abstract

Focusing on the Adaptation Learning Program (ALP) in Northern Ghana, this paper explores the relation between NGO programmes and their effect on the development of local government structures, in order to make adaptation interventions more complementary towards national policies.

Long Abstract

Following the negotiations on climate change at the international level, the near future is likely to see an intensification of adaptation interventions implemented in the Global South. However, because national governments are often far from ready to implement climate change adaptation projects, most of these interventions are currently being implemented by local NGOs, receiving finance directly from donors. While these interventions aim to strengthen the relationship between communities and local government, rather little attention has been given to the effect of NGO programmes on the development of local government structures. This paper will focus on the case study the Adaptation Learning Program (ALP), a Community-Based Adaptation (CBA) intervention implemented by CARE International (NGO), in regions of Northern Ghana. The paper explores the relation between the governance of the ALP programme and the politics of the Garu-Tempane district to examine if the programme assists or hinders national government efforts. The paper seeks to evaluate the coherence of governmental and non-governmental governance structures of adaptation interventions, as well as making the policy and practice of planned and future interventions more complementary towards national policies, in order for nation-wide adaptation to succeed.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.