By John Leo Algo
Enhancing monitoring, evaluation, and reporting: reflections on Action for Climate Empowerment at SB58
When it comes to global climate action, Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) is not usually among the first themes that come to the minds of many. It also has not received as much significant progress as other work streams like mitigation and adaptation, which is significant considering there has not been sufficient advancements for those agendas as well.
Yet ACE is just as important as any other aspect of climate action. Originally established through Article 6 of the UN Framework Convention, it focuses on improving climate education, training, public awareness, public participation, public access to information, and international cooperation. All of these are cross-cutting elements that would enable enhanced action on mitigation, adaptation, and reducing loss and damage.
At the 2023 Bonn intersessionals (SB58), the latest ACE Dialogues took place. Hundreds of participants engaged in discussions and workshops assessing the monitoring, evaluation, and reporting (MER) on progress under said theme. The outcomes of this event would be used to advance the ACE agenda at COP28 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
The following are among the key insights that emerged from the event.
Develop an ACE Index
A major challenge in the MER process is assessing the available data and information. Determining progress on education, training, public participation, and other aspects of ACE is difficult, given the challenges in integrating quantitative and qualitative metrics into an overall global or national assessment that can be applied across different local contexts.
One potential intervention to address this issue is the development of a global ACE Index. It refers to a scoring system that would gauge both quantitative and qualitative indicators across the six elements. Existing global sustainability indexes, such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Index used by Cambridge University, can serve as models.
However, while the SDGs have identified targets for indicating progress, the ACE Index would be scored relative to the national circumstances of each country. This means that each country would also be allowed to set its own targets for specific indicators, aligning with the self-determining mechanism seen in the Nationally Determined Contributions.
Invest in Integrated Data Management
Evaluating the existing ACE-related data is one thing, but ensuring the availability of data is an entirely different challenge. Many developing countries still lack the equipment and capacities to collect, generate, and store the necessary information to monitor, evaluate, and report on the progress of ACE activities. This issue persists in other aspects under this theme and across other manifestations of climate action.
Countries must secure more investments and financing for enhanced data management systems to enable a more effective MER system. Improving capacities to access potential sources of private funding, including multilateral funds, development banks, philanthropies, and public-private partnerships, is crucial.
It is also necessary that national governments prioritize ACE elements within their agendas to generate more financing. Allocating a higher portion of the national budget for climate-related education, training, and other programmes would not only strengthen the MER process but also provide co-benefits that enable progress in other development-related plans, including those to achieve the SDGs.
Create, Enhance National ACE Strategies
Another sign of commitment from national governments to strengthen ACE implementation, including the MER components, is developing a National ACE Strategy. Many nations still lack a comprehensive plan that improves coordination among government agencies, consolidates information for enhanced MER that informs policymaking, and identifies national targets across all six elements and multiple sectors.
Existing National ACE Strategies should be made more accessible, enabling other countries to follow best practices, systems, and approaches as they develop their own plans. The publication of an annual Global ACE Report would also make such information more readily available and could increase awareness and understanding of relevant policies and actions, ultimately contributing to a stronger MER system.
Establish an ACE Fund
Considering the discussions on climate finance, creating an international fund under the UNFCCC dedicated to supporting ACE-related endeavors is long overdue. The creation of an ACE Fund should be considered to accelerate the implementation of regional and national programmes that enhance progress across the six elements.
An ACE Fund should be part of the ongoing discussions to determine a new collective quantified goal on climate finance by 2025. Policymakers need to be reminded that effective ACE implementation can speed up the implementation of adaptation, mitigation, and other climate solutions, especially in the long term. Given the urgency of addressing the climate crisis, this intervention must be included in the global agenda moving forward.
It must be emphasized that ACE itself is an indicator of the state of global climate action. Without proper attention and resources for its implementation, from planning to MER, addressing the climate crisis would be impossible.
John Leo is the Deputy Executive Director for Programs and Campaigns of Living Laudato Si’ Philippines and a member of Aksyon Klima Pilipinas and the Asia-Pacific Youth Advisory Group on Environmental and Climate Justice. He has been a climate and environment journalist since 2016.