Writing Prompt: The Role of Governance in Developing Long-term Strategies

The Paris Agreement encourages Parties to develop “mid-century, long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies” 1 (long-term strategies) in a manner that they see fit, within the context of their national circumstances and respective capabilities, and to submit these strategies by 2020. To date, Benin, France, Germany, the United States, Mexico, and Canada have officially communicated long-term strategies to the UNFCCC.

Since long-term strategies will implicate multiple sectors and affect the interests of all types of stakeholder groups, governance issues will be central to their success or failure. Poor governance may result in strategies that are ignored, perceived as illegitimate, or which are insufficiently informed by a wide cross section of government institutions, business, and civil society. Success may be driven by the actors or groups that contributed to their development, the policy arena where they were developed, the formal and informal arrangements that will guide its development and implementation, and the degree to which they are perceived as credible and fair. This may consider the institutional structures, authority and power, relationships, and incentives involved to ensure policy coherence, induce commitment, and promote coordination in implementing the long-term strategy.

For this expert perspective, we ask authors: What are good governance practices in developing long-term strategies?

In your response, please consider the following underlying questions (note: not all authors need to consider every question):

  • How should countries determine where to place institutional authority in overseeing the development of the long-term strategy? What are the key capacities, relationships, or power that this authority should have?
  • How can lead authorities secure the commitment and cooperation of other sectors, parliaments, and subnational authorities while still producing a strong and credible LTS? How much power and responsibility can or should be delegated to other authorities to ensure buy-in?
  • What is the role of civil society in contributing to long-term strategies, particularly where there are populations disproportionately vulnerable to climate impacts OR socioeconomic impacts from climate policies that require a just transition? How should long-term strategy development integrate NGOs and broader public involvement in terms of timeline, partnerships, expert input, cost, and accountability?
  • Is there ever a role for coalition building to ensure political support for long-term strategy development?
  • How can strategy developers best link to or leverage other ongoing national planning processes?
  • What aspects of other countries' long-term strategy development process are most likely to translate across national governance contexts? Further, could collaborating with similar countries that are also developing their own strategies be beneficial? 
  • How can long-term strategies be translated and communicated to policy makers and the public effectively during the development and during outreach upon completion? How should decision-makers translate the research and scenarios developed by technical experts into concreate action?
  • How should developers of LTS consider future political threats to the implementation/updating of the LTS in its process of development?

In writing your perspective piece, and reflecting on the abovementioned questions, please consider the following (non-exhaustive) list of governance issues (please cite accordingly):

  • Any relevant literature or learning from the governance field more widely on when and how long term strategies have been effectively developed and implemented;
  • Balancing the importance of politically informed approaches to strategy development with the urgency of making short and medium term progress towards climate goals;
  • Whether strategy developers can learn from cases when strategies failed to have their intended impact—identifying aspects to their development that can contribute to a better course;
  • Whether there are new institutions that countries should consider to provide independent oversight of implementation or inform and update the strategy over time.
  • Political economy approaches to governance work are seen by many as critical to understanding the likelihood of implementation. Consider how these approaches should inform strategy development.
  • Consider the governance opportunities—gaining buy-in, support, cooperation—of linking long-term strategies to SDG efforts.
  • Reflect upon which aspects of “good practice” for governance of long-term strategies are broadly applicable and which filtered for relevance in the national context.

1 Article 4, Paragraph 19