In Northern Pakistan, the Provincial Assembly is Championing Better Monitoring of Climate Finance
11 May 2017 by Sujala Pant
The Khyber Pass may elicit images of remote beauty to many of us. I have been lucky to make a couple of visits to Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkwa (KP), one of the provinces that the Pass cuts through. This beautiful part of Pakistan, like the rest of the country, is susceptible to the devastating effects of climate change, but luckily, the elected representatives in KP are taking things in their own hands.
Last month in Islamabad, we had a vibrant interaction with a number of members of the Khyber Pakhutunkhwa (KP) Provincial Assembly in Pakistan, a selection of cross-party representatives who make up the newly established Working Group on Climate Change Finance. I was there as part of UNDP’s efforts to increase the engagement of KP Assembly Members on the issue of climate change finance. I was hoping that there would be enough interest to kick start and grow from this initial interaction, but I need not have worried. Once the discussion began – ideas and questions started to fly:
- ‘How can we better address climate change through our assembly?’
- “How can we ensure other members of our Assembly have the right information on climate action?”
- “What about public awareness for more action?”
- “How can we make this a cross-party issue?”
Hearing these questions come thick and fast around the room was reassuring. It was a reminder that there are concerned, devoted representatives across the country who have a deep desire to address these issues - and some have been very active already. For instance, Honourable Amna Sardar of the KP Assembly has raised a motion to discuss climate change at the KP Assembly, and hopes she will get enough support to make it happen.
Her concern is not surprising. In this breathtaking, mountainous province on Pakistan’s North Western frontier the effects of climate change are a real and pressing challenge. The government has risen to this challenge by initiating the Green Growth Initiative, which includes the Billion Tree Tsunami efforts, hydel projects, and improved management of national parks.
However, as these important publically funded initiatives increase in size and scope, the Assembly members have a greater need to monitor and discuss the investments to ensure that government resources are prioritised as per needs, and spent in an accountable manner. As Honourable Jafar Shah stated, it is about knowing “where to strike”, given the need to prioritise resources.
Effectively providing this oversight requires specialised knowledge and skills. But the members in the room were keen to develop these and UNDP, through its Governance of Climate Change Finance team, has begun to deliver them, together with the Parliamentary Support Programme.
This is being done through building new skills, systems and processes using the existing platforms as starting points. One example that participants said would be very helpful, was the programme’s creation of a Climate Budget Review Toolkit, with KP specific knowledge and data about climate finance, as well as a list of potential oversight questions to put to the government. Having access to research and analysis being undertaken on the topic was also thought to be practical in improving evidence-based discussions.
These Members are fast becoming champions for better budgeting of climate financing for the entire assembly. As climate finance continues to flow, ensuring it is properly managed and reviewed will only become more important. Luckily, in this stunning part of Pakistan, it seems to be in good hands.
With 14 years of experience in development, Sujala leads UNDP’s Asia Pacific Governance of Climate Change Finance team’s effort to strengthen the governance dimensions of the programme, with a particular focus on increasing accountability over the use of climate change finance. Sujala also supports countries in strengthening their institutional arrangements to manage climate change finance more effectively.