Policy brief summary on Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE)

About the project 

On September 2020, two representative of the National Youth Council (Aoife Fleming and Eefke van de Wouw) and two from the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate (Lenneke Ijzendoorn and Marcel Beukeboom) commissioned us (Alessandro, Cecilia, Max ,Sophie and Aneequah), five students from the SDD track of Wageningen University the development of a policy brief on the future pathways for Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE). This action stands for Climate Empowerment and refers to Article 6 of the UNFCCC and Article 12 of the Paris Agreement. 

From left to right: Aneeqah, Max, Sofie, Alessandro in Cologne for a working day together! (Missing Cecilia in Rome).

During a period of two months, we reflected on the effectiveness of ACE in the past eight years and explores novel approaches for future action. We found that democratization and neoliberalism were highlighted as the two distinct narratives. Democratization emphasizes the role of ACE in empowering citizens to participate in climate policy decision-making, as this is believed to be emancipatory, enhance deliberative processes and foster accountability. Neoliberalism promotes ACE to empower citizens to become climate-conscious consumers and responsible actors in their own community. We found that these two sides of ACE often remain implicit in debates about ACE, thereby generating ambiguity around its objectives and implementation.  

Challenges and Prioritization of ACE 

We highlighted four challenges that compromise the successful implementation of ACE: 1) a structural lack of funding, 2) a lack of measurable targets and indicators, 3) an unbalanced implementation of ACE favouring education over participation, 4) and a siloed approach, with the different areas of ACE working quite independently from one another. These four challenges both stem from and lead to the overarching problem: a lack of prioritization of ACE on the international and national climate agenda.  

We put in evidence that the prioritization of ACE can be strengthened through three strategies, namely 1) a clarification of objectives, 2) a concretization of targets, and 3) a crosscutting approach. These strategies function as an instrument to help steer ACE into three distinct governance roles. In fact, ACE can function as a monitor, an accelerator, and a networker.  

Continuing business as usual would be a missed opportunity that the international community cannot afford, as climate change becomes ever more urgent.  

ACE represents a legal basis to foster climate education, training, public awareness, public participation, public access to information; and international collaboration on these topics. The eight-year Doha Work Program on ACE concludes in 2020 and the upcoming COP26 will provide a window of opportunity to create a new framework.  

Moreover, we developed a ‘roadmap’ of series of online events relevant to ACE, in which we could present our report leading up to COP26.  This was important to initiate an open discussion on ACE challenges based on our findings.  

Policy’s brief intention and impact 

The intention with the policy brief is to share it with the community of policy makers, climate leaders, associations and organization involved with the development of ACE goals. Thanks to this research, policy makers and experts in the field will have an in-depth analysis to use in order to design effective policy strategies and measures for ACE. We have presented it to the UNFCCC, the YEAH (as mentioned) and multiple roundtables. We are closely working with our commissioner which are supporting us with the distribution of the policy brief to pivotal actors, forums and conferences. The great enthusiasm shown by our commissioners and the wider public on the final version of the policy brief have revealed the big impact of this work. This makes us very proud of what we have done and achieved throughout these months. At the end, this was not only a task to complete, but a real opportunity to have a say on the future steps of an instrument such as ACE!   

If you are interested in the the brief, contact: cecilia.consalvo@wur.nl

ACE presentation to commissioners.

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