Saturday, 31 December 2016 22:43

Examining the Green Economy Pathway

Stories News 2016 10 01 6…the role of Interests, Identity and Norms (Part 3- Norms)

IN this final part of the three-part series, the role of key norms and why climate change adaptation financing is not readily available to small developing states (SDSs) will be examined.

We agree, at the outset, that Guyana is a small developing state (SDS) and the green economy is a wide concept of development, whose pillars mirror those of sustainable development. In fact, we also submit that sustainable development and the green economy are sometimes used interchangeably, since both rely on environmental efficiency, social equity and economic prosperity. In like manner, ‘green growth is used interchangeably with ‘green economy.’ Recognising that greening Guyana’s economy will require various levels of financing, the extent to which norms are formed that support this initiative is critical. Secondly, the extent to which new norms are conceptualised, in the context of greening Guyana’s economy, is also important. While we examine SDSs as a grouping, we do assert that its findings are relevant to Guyana as a SDS.
The Norm of Common but Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities
We believe that the formation of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities (CBDR) as a norm within the International Climate Change Regime (ICCR), through domestic diffusion and invocation, is the extent to which Guyana is able to capture international climate financing channelled through the ICCR for the greening of its economy.
In the context of recognising norms as accepted values that describe standards of suitable behaviour for actors and agents, we believe that the variable CBDR has matured to norm- formation within the ICCR. Several features surrounding norm-formation and diffusion attach themselves to this variable. In the first instance, CBDR is embedded within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which provides for its location. Secondly, CBDR, as embedded within the UNFCCC, operates as a standard or rule in determining how states will protect the climate system. Against this backdrop, we found that CBDR helped define the identity of the UNFCCC- a norm- specific characteristic- and should be considered a formed norm within the ICCR.
Additionally, it was the ICCR, inclusive of non-state actors, through persuasive communication, that helped form the CBDR norm. In this regard, we submit that the norm, CBDR has constitutive effect within the ICCR as it served to influence states to redefine their attitudes to climate protection.
However, the diffusion of the norm CBDR is not without difficulties. We found little evidence that the CBDR norm was diffused and invocated domestically within the SDS regime, including Guyana. This, of course, limits its identity as descriptive rather than prescriptive. Consequently, SDSs have been also unable to effectively exploit the CBDR norm for climate change adaptation finance (CCAF) within the ICCR, because it was not legitimised internationally, internally and institutionally.
As a central plank in allocating responsibilities and resources to climate protection, the absence of diffusion of the CBDR norm created climate-finance deficits for SDSs. Instead, we believe that an identity of division between the developed states and developing states shaped and was shaped by contrary interests within the ICCR.
The Norms of Technology Transfer, Intellectual Property and International Financial Cooperation
Another embedded variable within the UNFCCC is technology transfer. However, we do not believe that technology transfer, though embedded, matured into a norm. In our view, the persuasive communication accompanying technology transfer created issue frames that were controlled and influenced by the principal actors and agents within the ICCR. Consequently, the absence of, and in some cases, limited provision of technology transfer, continues to be an issue frame from the perspective of SDSs.
Competing with the issue frame of technology transfer is the issue frame of intellectual property. We found that within the ICCR, these two frames seemed to have merged into one frame where the actors mutually constitute each other. In other words, shared meanings and understandings are evident within this merged frame to the benefit of significant actors and agents. For similar reasons, we also found that international financial cooperation was unable to mature into a formed norm within the regime of SDSs.
The Norm of New and Additional Financing
Small developing states (SDSs), including Guyana, argue that unless climate change adaptation finance (CCAF) is new and additional, as prescribed for under the UNFCCC, climate-change adaptation development will become more and more difficult for SDSs to achieve. In like manner, new and additional available finance will make a significant contribution to greening Guyana’s economy.
In this context, we found that new and additional financing (NAAF), as an embedded variable, possesses the attributes of a formed norm as described above. Additionally, it was the SDSs grouping, in particular, inclusive of non-state actors, through persuasive communication that helped form the NAAF norm. In this regard, we submit that the NAAF norm has constitutive effect within the ICCR, as it served to influence states to redefine their attitude to apportioning CCAF.
Similarly, the NAAF norm experienced challenges in diffusion. We found evidence of identity and interest formation that conflicted with this norm. In particular, the issue frame of differentiating between overseas development assistance (ODA) and NAAF acted out in favour of the developed countries’ actors within the ICCR through advocating for ODA to be considered as NAAF. This, of course, limits its identity as descriptive rather than prescriptive. Consequently, SDSs, including Guyana, have been unable to exploit the NAAF norm for CCAF within the ICCR because it was not legitimised internationally and institutionally.
Why CCAF Is Not Available To Meet The CCA Requirements Of Small Developing States?
Our attempt at answering the above question is limited by the research data available at the time of writing and our own constraints in not analyzing all the possible data available. Our suggested answer incorporates our findings in relation to interests, identity and norms within the ICCR. We believe that CCAF is not available to meet the CCA requirements of small developing states, because the interests constructed within the ICCR created intersubjective meanings and understandings exclusive to the SDSs grouping. This meant that the powerful actors within the ICCR took control of the CCAF narrative as it related to CCAF and generally allowed those shared intersubjective meanings and understandings to shape and be shaped by identities formed within the ICCR, to the exclusion of SDSs.
Identity formation within the ICCR presented a further challenge to CCAF not being readily available to meet the CCA requirement of SDSs. The identities formed were mutually constituted among the powerful actors and agents within the ICCR. In the result, identity formed shaped interests and were shaped by interests created among the powerful actors. In this regard, the ideational structures generated comprised rules, norms and practices that inhibited SDSs to be effective as an identity and from effectively receiving CCAF for their CCA development. The exceptionally high fiduciary and expertise standards to access CCAF is only but one example.
Finally, norm-formation had its own impact on CCAF flowing to SDSs for CCA. Even though several key norms were embedded, the UNFCCC and supported by persuasive communication, their diffusion was limited by definition uncertainty, non legitimization internally and internationally and issue-frame merger to the benefit of the more powerful actors within the ICCR. In the end, limited shared understandings and the mutuality of the formed norms serve to restrict the availability of CCAF to SDSs for CCA development.
What Should Guyana Do To Generate Financing?
In the context of greening its economy, Guyana should consider expanding its green- identity formation within the ICCR and the SDSs grouping. In addition, Guyana should consider leading the SDSs grouping in realigning their interests to achieve congruence with that of the powerful actors within the ICCR. Finally, Guyana, given its regional and international leadership in advocating for climate change solutions, should consider advocating for technological capacity-building and development as opposed to technology transfer.
In the next set of articles, I will be examining the Guyana-Norway Agreement, starting with the Amaila Falls Hydro Project.
Short bio
Mr Gary A R Best is a retired Rear Admiral and former Chief-of-Staff of the Guyana Defence Force. He is an Attorney at Law and the Presidential Advisor on the Environment. He is a PhD candidate at the University of the West Indies. He holds a BSc in Nautical Science (Brazil) and Masters Degrees from the University of the West Indies and the University of London. He is also an alumnus of the National Defence University and Harvard Kennedy School. His research areas include, climate change governance, climate change finance, international relations and environmental law.
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