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Innovative approaches to policy making can speed climate progress. Lessons from Egypt.

The fast moving evolution of policy-making

The fast moving evolution of policy-making

Hala H. Elsaid
Minister of Planning and Economic Development, Chair, Arab Republic of Egypt, The Sovereign Fund of Egypt
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  • Policy implementation networks are key to successful climate coordination.
  • Socioeconomic circumstances are no longer an accurate determinant of a country’s climate policies and achievements.
  • Full collaboration cannot be achieved without first building trust.

Let’s picture a scenario: the world comes together to form an international climate alliance introducing a uniform policy package that urges as many nations as possible to support global climate policy goals through concerted, ambitious climate policy actions.

Fostering trust in international climate policy coordination, members will be more transparent about their actions to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 and the Paris Agreement's 1.5 degree target. If the right measures are implemented, the world’s greenhouse gas emissions will be radically reduced, and countries will work towards a circular economy with green energy, clean technology and biodiversity at its core.

To move to climate cooperation, attention needs to be directed to policy implementation networks. National governments must involve and coordinate the actions of local, regional, and international level actors from a variety of sectors while designing and implementing their policies. When this happens, purpose-oriented policy implementation networks are created, which are composed of a variety of autonomous actors who participate in a cooperative effort based on one common purpose.

Why more attention needs to be directed to policy

Policies to address climate change have been historically difficult to implement. For far too long, the overarching fear of climate policy in possibly igniting price spirals or affecting fiscal budgeting for other development priorities have largely affected the integration and relocation of climate change into national strategies and plans.

The perceived impacts on households and inequality concerns have been the key determinants of support for climate policies in many countries. Countries’ own socio-economic and macroeconomic differences are also usually seen as the main reasons for their inconsistencies in abiding to the Paris Agreement and the blueprint established by the United Nations.

Yet COP27, which was held in Egypt’s Sharm El-Sheikh this year, has shown that countries from Africa, the Middle East and South America demonstrated that they are ambitiously adopting innovative strategies and are sharing their climate actions, experiences and lessons learned to enhance the transparency in the reporting of greenhouse gas emissions.

The Friends of Greening National Investment Plans in Africa and Developing Countries Initiative, which was launched during COP27’s Solutions Day, is one example that proves that a country’s own socioeconomic circumstance is no longer a determining factor of ambitious policy. The initiative aims to help developing countries increase the share of green projects in their national investment plans by at least 30% by 2030 through a policy network that involves several countries, regional and international organizations, as well as financial institutions.


How is the World Economic Forum fighting the climate crisis?

A number of international reports have raised the importance of policy implementation networks, and the need to prioritise cross-sectoral and integrated policies. The IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C's Summary for Policymakers emphasised the need for multi-level governance that encompasses a range of state and non-state actors and institutions in order to address climate change. The OECD Environment Policy Committee (EPOC) and the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) have also designed a policy guide for the integration and consideration of long term climate risks in national planning processes as well as in budgets.

As shown in the graph below, delay past 2027 would necessitate a transition that is even more rushed, and in which inflation can only be controlled at a significant cost to real GDP. In other words, the trade-off gets worse the longer we wait.

Image: IMF

In this new era of implementation, the central question facing governments today is not what policies to implement, but how can they be designed, evaluated and implemented through a streamlined process that is open, inclusive and participatory.

Policy implementation networks

The very first job of all countries is to inspire trust. Cooperation is not limited to following a common goal, but it is also rooted in authentically embodying their strategy in every step of the journey.

This necessitates a shift to integrated thinking, where the nation's climate vision and goals are interwoven across the entire cycle. The "bolts and joints" of policy-making are directed by a policy implementation network that brings all different actions together to organise an effective policy response, ensuring that there is smooth information and action flow among stakeholders.

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The policy implementation network puts forward a cross-sectoral strategy since it includes the measures and actions from all the industries that contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. The strategy also employs a multi-level governance approach, outlining the roles that local, regional, national, and international actors will play in carrying out the strategy’s recommendations.

By strengthening government capacity to use evidence in programme design and delivery and using administrative data to promote evidence collection, governments can create a culture of evidence-informed decision-making, as demonstrated by the Egypt Impact Policy Lab.

First, the policy lab evaluates the efficacy of the programmes and initiatives the Government of Egypt has identified with a range of partners, including the private sector, academia and civil society, to produce impact evaluations per year that outline top priorities. Second, the policy lab strengthens the capacities of ministries and development professionals by assisting them in using rigorous evidence in the evaluation of national initiatives and programmes, allowing for better policy design.

The policy lab also creates a fellowship programme for bright academics to improve Egypt's research ecosystem, and to bring to the table specialised knowledge, long-term thinking, and creativity.

This plays a vital role in addressing the government’s development priorities, serving as a hub that brings together the different partners to provide a coordinated response on priority cross-cutting projects.


Pioneering the surge towards implementation

Through the collective work of policymakers, researchers, and innovators, we have the building blocks for a green and resilient future. The urgency of the environmental challenge calls for ambitious policies that prioritise climate action and send a clear message of cooperation across all levels, and all actors.

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