State and regional governments from Australia to Brazil are sharing learnings for climate policy success

Ilario D'Amato
26 February 2016

Hon. Ian Hunter, Minister for Climate Change, South Australia

LONDON: Ministers from Australia and Brazil explain how collaboration through 'peer learning' driven by The Climate Group is helping adaptation policies succeed in their regions, in two exclusive Climate TV interviews.

State and regional governments were pivotal to the historic Paris Agreement that was made by national governments at the global climate talks last December, which has set ambitious emissions reduction targets to help secure a low carbon future.

During COP21, The Climate Group’s States & Regions Alliance – which has 35 members across the world – showcased many of its governments’ innovative climate actions and renewable energy targets, which were undoubtedly among the most impressive commitments shared in Paris.

To achieve such ambitious policies though, collaboration between both state and regional governments and citizens is seen as essential. In South Australia, for example, the government “talked to local communities and asked them what they want in terms of their need for climate change and adaptation,” says its Minister for Climate Change, Hon. Ian Hunter, in a Climate TV interview.

State and regional governments, are in fact, “closer to the people than national governments and better at working with local communities,” the Minister remarks. In particular, the South Australian Government has put greater collaboration at the center of its adaptation strategy.

“Different communities have different needs: those on the coast are different from those inland,” explains Ian Hunter, “and those in the agricultural sector are different from those living in towns and cities. Therefore, the only way to get a community onboard is to actually ask them what they want and involve them in the process. Without their direct involvement, they don’t get that sense of ownership.”

The Minister says this level of collaboration was most clearly demonstrated at the Paris climate talks, which he says led to the ambitious commitments “from nations, states, provinces and cities”. He concludes: “Without ambitious targets, no one is going to push for them, so we need to have great ambition.”

The state will also host the Climate Adaptation Conference on July 6 -7 2016. The conference brings together researchers, practitioners and decision makers to share knowledge and research approaches that inform policy and practice in planning for climate change.


But because constant participation from all actors is central to driving ambition, the Government of South Australia is also leading The Climate Group’s Adaptation Peer Forum. As part of the States & Regions Policy Innovation program – and working with several members of The Climate Group States & Regions Alliance – the Forum enables in-depth global ‘peer learning’ on climate adaptation approaches by identifying emerging policies that will boost climate resiliency across the states and regions.

“By providing governments with the opportunities, resources and expertise they need to learn from one another’s experience, we drive the pace of climate policy development and adoption at the state and regional level,” comments Libby FergusonStates & Regions Director at The Climate Group.

“An by participating in these unique Peer Forums, governments have the opportunity to join a network of policy experts that gathers best practice and effective, transferrable solutions related to climate adaptation, clean tech innovation and the energy transition.”

To date, The Climate Group States & Regions has held several webinar meetings focused on adaptation, in particular on dealing with natural disaster risks, implementing adaptation planning and engaging with the private sector.

Many governments have underlined how businesses are already responding to climate threats and opportunities – as well as how governments themselves can better catalyze private sector action in the future.

In fact, businesses may be more willing to engage on climate adaptation if a comprehensive policy framework supports their actions. This would help companies understand the impacts of climate change on their business and estimate the financial implications of inaction.

But such difficulties can also be seen as opportunities, if examples of successful climate adaptation plans in different parts of the world are shared across the public and private sectors. Governments in the webinars agreed business engagement is critical – which in turn will be strongly encouraged to actively exploit risks and opportunities from climate change.


The Peer Forum model that the States & Regions Alliance has developed is crucial to ensuring a ‘bottom up’ approach to climate adaptation policy – and by leading the Adaptation Peer Forum, the Government of South Australia recognized early on that the key to developing an effective adaptation plan was working directly with local communities. To this end, the government developed an innovative model of 12 ‘regional committees’ made up of local government, industry and community leaders, who shared responsibility for the planning process and revealed results to the broader community.

    André Corrêa, State Environmental Secretary, Rio de Janeiro

    At the global COP21 climate talks in Paris, The Climate Group supported the launch of RegionsAdapt, an initiative by sub-national governments to put in place adaptation plans, report on adaptation actions and share learning on policy solutions. Led by Network of Regional Governments for Sustainable Development (nrg4SD), the launch of the initiative during COP21 called attention to the importance of international support and collaboration for regional climate adaptation.

    This initiative demonstrates how many state and regional governments are urgently putting adaptation measures in place too. A severe drought in Brazil recently led the governments of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro to order water rationing as well as enact additional charges for high consumption. Droughts have a specific impact in the country, which is powered by 70% of its energy mix by hydroelectric sources.

    “In the short term, we are working on a series of contingency measures,” comments André Corrêa, State Environmental Secretary, Rio de Janeiro, in an interview for Climate TV. To tackle the worst water crisis the State has been through over the last 85 years, the government had reduced the runoff of the main sources for public supply in the metropolitan region of Rio de Janeiro – where nine and a half million people live – saving 80,000 liters per second of water.

    “In the long term, we are developing a program called Pacto pelas Águas (‘Pact for the water management’),” says André Corrêa, “with the goal to restore 20,000 hectares of public water sources.”

    The Secretary also underlines the crucial role states and regions in general play in tackling climate change at a practical level: “With regard to legislation, sub-national governments have the power, especially in federal countries, to set up the price for carbon or create tax incentives for carbon sequestration initiatives,” he concludes. “There is a great possibility of an infra-constitutional legislation of sub-national governments.”

    The Climate Group States & Regions Adaptation Peer Forum will continue to engage with policy makers and practitioners in 2016, with the crucial goal of accelerating, inspiring and providing climate adaptation solutions through peer learning.

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