Benin takes a holistic approach to addressing climate change

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The Government of Benin is combining a top-down and bottom-up approach in its national strategy to tackle the threat of climate change. Photo: UNDP
There is no simple solution for addressing climate change; it requires a multidimensional approach that includes systemic law and policy change as much as it needs education, behaviour change and grassroots adaptation and mitigation action. Demonstrating its understanding of this, as well as its commitment to lessening the impacts of climate change on its environment and its citizens, the Government of Benin is combining a top-down and bottom-up approach in its national strategy to tackle the threat. 
With the support of the UN Environment / UNDP / WRI GCF Readiness Programme, Benin is a step closer to adopting a new Climate Change Law, following last month’s approval of the draft by the National Designated Authority and other government partners, within the GCF Readiness Programme Steering Committee. Benin has also prioritized training state agencies on the design and monitoring of adaptation and mitigation projects, as well as training municipality level authorities on how to integrate climate activities into development plans at the local level. 
“The Government is looking at how to address climate change holistically. We can’t have one without the other. We need the law to structure and define all climate-related activities, and we need the individuals in the ministries and at the municipal level to take the lead in both rolling out and monitoring these activities,” said Marius Gandonou, UN Environment / UNDP/ WRI GCF Readiness Programme National Coordinator for Benin. 
The Climate Change Law will provide a better framework for actions and measures to be taken by decision-makers in the context of climate change; to define and monitor projects; and clearly outline how much public spending should be allocated to climate projects. The law will also prepare Benin to more effectively access external climate change finance, such as the Green Climate Fund. The newly approved bill, which has now been forwarded to the Council of Ministers for approval before being presented to the Supreme Court and National Assembly to be signed into law, is aligned with the Constitution, national laws and regulations on the environment and climate, as well as with international agreements and conventions such as the UNFCCC, Kyoto Protocol and Paris Agreement. It will also set clear targets that all national climate actors, led by the NDA, can work towards. 
Complementing the law, the UN Environment / UNDP/ WRI GCF Readiness Programme has also supported the Government of Benin to develop a national Climate Change Policy, which has been approved by the Steering Committee and has also been forwarded to the Council of Ministers to be adopted. The policy covers climate change governance, sustainable ecosystem management in cities and territories, strengthening of human and social capital, research, development and technology transfer, and resource mobilization for climate change activities. 
While training national authorities is important for monitoring overarching national plans, training local authorities is of vital importance, as the majority of development activities, including climate change interventions, are carried out at the local level. A good understanding of priorities, roles and responsibilities at both levels will also promote cooperation between the two.  
“Development activities are done at the community level, not at the top,” said Mr Gandonou. “Local governance is the first layer of management, and that’s why it’s very important to us to train the local government how to integrate these climate plans into their local development plans.” 
In a series of municipality-level trainings across north and central Benin in March, local authorities learnt how climate change activities would be integrated into their local development plans, and were taught how to monitor progress against delivery.