What do citizens prefer? Policy mixes for public acceptance of just transitions
German Development Institute (DIE)
Just transitions aim at making deep green transformations fair and socially just. This is both intrinsically important, as well as instrumental; in fact, it has been found that fairness is a critical factor of climate policy acceptance by citizens. Carbon fiscal reforms have, in the past, often met strong political opposition, as witnessed with the Witness the French “yellow vests” protests and subsidy reforms in low and middle income countries. One way of making climate policy fair is to use social protection instruments to compensate potential losers from climate policy. Despite the recent surge in the use of simulations to understand the incidence of carbon pricing also for lower income countries, the issue of preference and acceptability of carbon ricing and revenue recycling has been explored mainly for advanced economies. This is important as low- and middle-income countries will also need to implement green transformations; and because in those countries social goals, such as poverty eradication, my still be the most important ones. Social protection is also critical in the context of the COVID-19 crisis.
To start addressing this gap, we implement surveys in three middle-income countries in three different continents: Ghana, Philippines and Peru. In each country we survey 900 middle class households in urban areas. More specifically, we explore factors that may increase the public acceptance of policy packages. We first focus on the role of the framing and information given; in fact, acceptability is also strongly linked to perceived fairness and knowledge. We then explore the type of revenue recycling options. In this last regard, using existing social protection programs could increase the saliency of revenue recycling and acceptability of carbon pricing.
The results will shed light on the policy mix that maximizes acceptability by citizens. This is in turn important for policy implementation, as public acceptance is a crucial determinant of the political feasibility of climate policies. In particular, given the importance of justice and inclusion, it is critical to understand the available design options of carbon fiscal reforms, and especially of the social protection component, that best serve this goal. By having a comparative study design, we will also try to shed light not just at addressing the research gap in terms of low and middle income countries, but look at what other structural factor is important
Does inequality matter for policy incoherence in sustainable development? A suggested framework applying the Capabilities Approach
German Development Institute (DIE)
In this paper we bridge the policy coherence and the Capabilities Approach literatures to design a framework that can help answer the following question: does inequality in the policy-making process matter for policy incoherence in sustainable development and energy transitions? First, we note that policy coherence, in aligning economic, social and environmental development policies, does not just have instrumental value to both ends. We argue that it has intrinsic value too given that incoherence can lead to important trade-offs with real impacts on individuals and social groups. A case in point is the phasing out of coal, with potential unemployment outcomes for coal-miners. Thus, we argue that policy coherence arises as an important tool to limit the shrinking of, and to even expand, human capabilities. Second, we argue that inequality in the policy-making process – what we equate to inequality of opportunities in political decision-making – may matter for policy incoherence in sustainable development and energy transitions. Several reasons lie behind this hypothesis, including evidence that policy incoherence and political inequality both deepen inequalities of outcome. To this end, we develop a framework with a set of indicators to assess the potential role of inequality of opportunities in political decision-making – embodied by inequality of voice, agency, capacity to aspire and treatment – on policy incoherence. We hope that the framework – apt for qualitative studies – will help policy coherence scholars and advocates either rule out a cause of incoherence, or factor in a new dimension in the context of sustainable development and energy transitions. We hope it will also provide capabilities scholars with a new tool to assess how inequality may be shrinking human capabilities through policy incoherence.
Governance of interdependencies among water and land related SDGs: political-institutional preconditions for policy coherence
German Development Institute (DIE)
There is broad consensus that increased policy coherence is a pre-requisite to successfully address the interlinkages between the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and their targets and to achieve an integrated implementation of the 2030 Agenda. A case in point are the challenges that arise from the use and management of natural resources for achieving food, water and energy (WEF) securities (SDGs 2, 6, 7), while maintaining a safely operating biosphere (SDGs 6, 13, 15). Coordination across different sectors and levels will be key in minimising trade-offs and fostering synergies between the WEF related SDGs.
This paper hypothesizes, that political-institutional context factors, particularly regime type and state capacity influence a) the effectiveness of mechanisms to achieve cross-sector and cross-level coordination for managing the interlinkages and b) the degree to which coordination mechanisms reflect core principles of the 2030 Agenda, particularly LNOB and “inclusive and participatory decision making”. Thus, the paper contributes to the debate on the relation between regime type and state capacity and performance of states on ecological sustainability.
The proposed paper is based on a comparative case study that analyses how interdependencies among the WEF Nexus related SDGs are governed in four river basins: the Lower Awash Basin (Ethiopia), the Rio Cuautla Basin (Mexico), the Azraq basin (Jordan) and the Shire Basin (Malawi). To control for the role of political-institutional pre-conditions, the country cases for this study were chosen to present different combinations of high and low state capacity with democratic versus autocratic regime type.
The results indicate that higher levels of democracy strengthen civil society’s ability to shape the development, use, and management of natural resources. However in democratic and autocratic contexts alike, policy instruments aimed at integrating social and environmental aspects into economic development suffer from a lack of transparency and inclusiveness. In contexts with weak state capacities, the effective implementation of these policy instruments is further hampered by severe deficits of human and financial capacities. In both democratic and autocratic contexts, formal institutions were found to be undermined by co-existing informal institutions– although in different ways. In Jordan’s autocratic regime, for example, strong nepotistic ties between farmers and the royal family render instruments to control the overuse of groundwater ineffective. For another example, Mexico democratically elected governments have long been partly captured by the interests of a powerful industrial lobby that has been able to negotiate and maintain large water concessions.
The role of good governance and democracy in reducing poverty and inequality: Evidence from a systematic literature review on interlinkages between SDGs 16, 10 and 1
1German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE), Germany; 2University of New South Wales (UNSW)
Targets under Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16 include institutional principles of good governance, which are considered key enablers for all other SDGs. While the governance elements of transparency, accountability, and inclusive and participatory decision-making are not exclusive to democratic regimes, they are constitutive for democratic regimes and only limited in autocratic contexts. They are largely recognized as key characteristics distinguishing liberal democracies from merely electoral democracies. Despite the systemic importance of democracy and good governance, the growing literature on SDG interlinkages has thus far provided limited coverage on how they enable or constrain transition towards socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable societies. To fill this gap, we undertook a systematic review of scholarly literature dealing with the impacts of democracy and governance aspects under SDG 16 on poverty reduction (SDG 1) and reduced inequalities (SDG 10). For this purpose, 877 scholarly articles were screened and 108 retained for detailed review. Studies in the review sample include both qualitative case studies and cross-national quantitative analyses covering all regions of the world.
The results show that empirical evidence from a large number of studies testifies to the enabling effects of good governance on poverty and inequality reduction. For example, there is robust evidence that higher levels of transparency, participation and inclusion are associated with reduction in income poverty levels, reduced income inequality and increased access to basic services. Conversely, there is evidence that failure to adopt participatory processes can reduce the effectiveness of ecosystem services schemes and reinforce poverty. Our findings also support the argument that democracy has an important impact on the reduction of poverty and inequalities. Particularly, electoral accountability was found to positively impact the effectiveness of social protection programs and decentralisation through local elections resulted in better targeting of social expenditure and access to basic services.
Based on these findings, our study then undertakes a systematic analysis of the pathways through which the impacts of democracy and principles of good governance on SDGs 1 and 10 occur and identifies reinforcing feedback loops, which, in turn, are key to identifying entry points and accelerators for the achievement of sustainable development outcomes. In this way, the results of our study contribute to the ongoing debate about how to activate governance as one of the “six levers of sustainability transformation” (GSDR 2019), which will also be a key topic under the 2023 GSDR report.
Justice and accountability in the cycling mobility transformations of Egypt's mobility regime
1University of Freiburg, Germany; 2The Technical University of Berlin, Germany
Egypt has seen in the last decade a rise in projects that serve cycling. Projects that are conducted by different actors, and motivated by environmental, economic, social, or mobility rationales. However, most of the infrastructure projects have made a very little observed impact on bringing better conditions for cycling in the city.
The research shows that these interventions have failed to meet the needs of many current and potential bicycle users. It uses frameworks of distributional, recognition, participation and capability justice, as well as responsibility, assessment, and transparency accountability. Then it analyzes project reports, expert and user interviews, as well as bicycle counts and observations. And connects the resulting analysis with a transformation analysis, of the current mobility and planning regimes in Egypt, trough rupture, interstitial, or symbiotic processes.
The research outcomes show how the distribution of projects have favored wealthy low-density neighborhoods. Implementation of projects included compromises on the safety of bicycle users for providing space for car users. Many projects targeted specific segments of bike users for choice, much of whom cycle for leisure. Participation is also limited to organized cycling groups, which marginalizes much of bicycle users for utility. Much of the projects are designed without taking into consideration the needs of users for a connected network, or suitable density and landuse mix, not delivering the accessibility that is essential for the social good outcomes of cycling infrastructure.
Analyzing the accountability of the projects, adds several insights. Assessments for projects' impacts are either non-existing or skewed to increase impact, even in official UNFCC reports. Most public and private agents of cycling infrastructure projects seek targets of providing a luxury or lifestyle element, rather than mobility, environmental, or health targets, which tend to be more in projects led by civil society or informal community arrangements.
The movements in cycling mobility are connected to urban planning and mobility regimes in Egypt. Regimes that are usually explained in relation to new city developments, informal areas, and older city fabrics. Literature describes a wide array of factors affecting the regimes in Egypt, including public and private financialization of land, economic dependence on construction, policing and control, showcasing political achievement, and commodification of environmental goods, all related to motivations of cycling infrastructure. The research concludes with the impact that the different types of approaches to active mobility have on Egypt's mobility regime.