A new UNU-IAS Policy Brief titled The Co-benefits Approach at the Local Level: Legal Perspectives by Magali Dreyfus (Visiting Research Fellow, UNU-IAS) looks at how understanding local legal contexts and classifying laws and regulations can help policymakers adopt co-benefits strategies — ways of achieving several positive outcomes through a single policy.
Co-benefits approaches are used in the climate change literature to refer to policies simultaneously addressing global warming as well as local development priorities. Understanding local legal contexts, which vary widely, can help remove barriers or tap opportunities for adopting such co-benefits approaches at the early stages of policymaking processes. In addition, classifying laws and regulations according to their outcomes enhances the visibility of potential co-benefits, and fosters evidence-based policymaking.
- City governments are part of a domestic administrative system, with powers defined by law. To develop local policies, one must identify sectors under the jurisdiction of public authorities, in which co-benefits can be achieved. This entails assessing the international and national legal frameworks as well as the leeway and resources of city governments.
- It is crucial to examine local political contexts and their development priorities. Policies and projects appear to be more efficient and more easily implemented if they are demand-driven and tailored to local circumstances.
- Participatory processes in which all local stakeholders may declare their needs and capacities are essential in the decision-making process. Potential deadlocks would then be revealed before implementation. Objectives would be defined and plans discussed in advance during the decision-making process (participatory back-casting).
- Coordination with other public actors is necessary. Dialogue mechanisms that bring together upper-level government representatives and local decision-makers are important because the former may have the legal power to approve or reject local policies and projects. As co-benefits are inherently cross-sectoral, coordination is also needed across sector-specific policy areas.