Last month, members of Parliament attended a two-day workshop hosted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to strengthen their capacity and knowledge for the upcoming UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) seventeenth Conference of the Parties (COP 17).
Parliament’s responsibility around the climate change agenda is to pass laws that promote adaptation and mitigation and monitor government to ensure laws are properly and fairly implemented, with adequate funding allocated to support climate change mitigation strategies.
To assist in this function, the UNDP will provide the South African Parliament with support to better contribute to the COP 17 processes and debates, and strengthen its oversight role.
Speaker of the National Assembly Max Sisulu has approved an agreement with the UNDP that will see Parliamentarians gain greater knowledge of the issues and implications of climate change-related policy development.
“The UNDP will support the programme by facilitating dialogue between members of Parliament and key technical and subject matter experts,” states Sisulu.
A multiparty Parliamentary steering committee cochaired by the house chairpersons for committees in the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces is being established to assist in the running of the programme and to ensure high-level political buy-in.
Chairpersons of the seven relevant Parliamentary committees will serve on the steering committee.
According to UNDP resident representative Dr Agostinho Zacarias, the programme for Parliamentarians aims to ensure enhanced oversight, assess and monitor negotiations during the conference, as well as facilitate public participation, mobilisation, lobbying and networking.
“It will also assist Parliamentarians in promoting a campaign on climate change, which will help advance South Africa’s and Africa’s positions at the conference,” says Zacarias.
Members will be able to provide policy direction and conduct oversight on energy-related matters by broadening their understanding of the energy sector.
Members will be provided with information on issues such as energy alternatives, sustainable energies, the South African policy context, the Southern African Development Community and the African energy sectors, as well as community participation.