Interview with Mr. Luc Sètondji ATROKPO, President of the Association Nationale des Communes du Bénin
nrg4SD: The nrg4SD is pleased to welcome the Association Nationale des Communes du Bénin (ANCB) as the first new member to join the network in 2018. Could you share with us more about your work as an association with the different jurisdictions in Benin? And, how do you think this new collaboration between nrg4SD and ANCB will help you achieve your goals?
ANCB: The ANCB, as an association, does not have a direct link with the various Beninese jurisdictions. However, in its sovereign role of defense and representation of the communes of Benin, it can be a mandate from any local authority to represent it before a jurisdiction. The ANCB is also self-sufficient on all matters affecting the life of the communes.
To this, we feel the need of capacity building for the technicians of the Executive Secretariat of the ANCB, in order to strengthen the efficient and effective response of such requests in our jurisdictions. We believe that the nrg4SD with its multiple experiences in many areas will help us to fill these gaps in expertise to better defend the interests of the ANCB members, which are the communes.
The ANCB currently faces many challenges in the areas of local economic development, resources mobilization, water and sanitation, agriculture, land use planning, climate change, in general, everything regarding the sustainable development and the achievement of the SDGs.
nrg4SD: One of the nrg4SD’s areas of work are the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In the capacity of the ANCB as representative of the different communes of Benin, how are you involved in the Agenda 2030 and the SDGs? Can you tell us about the best practices or actions for their implementation in Benin?
ANCB: The ANCB is one of the main actors in the implementation of the Agenda 2030. To this end, it has created a multi-stakeholder thematic committee for the exchange of ideas called SDGs/ANCB, which is in charge of:
- To accompany the ANCB in the capitalization and the valorization of the achievements of the SDGs at the local level.
- To advise the ANCB’s National Office on the representation of the communes’ interests regarding the SDG ownership process at the national level;
- To devise tools for proposing them to the communes, with regard to the consideration of the SDGs in local planning;
- To support the communes in mobilizing resources for financing the SDGs from the baseline.
In addition, since 2017, the ANCB has been training the Beninese communes on the integration of the SDGs in the planning documents. During February 2018, in collaboration with the German Technical Cooperation (PDDC/GIZ) and the General Directorate of Control and Monitoring of the SDGs, the ANCB launched on national territory, a capitalization activity of good practices on the implementation of certain sustainable development goals of the 2030 Agenda. This is the contribution of the communes to the implementation of SDGs 6, 7, 12, 13, 15 and 16, some of which will be addressed at the High Level Political Forum in New York in July 2018.
nrg4SD: What are the ANCB’s actions in terms of multilevel governance linked to national plans for sustainable development, climate change or biodiversity?
ANCB: In co-relation with the national development plan, Benin has recently developed a National Sustainable Development Plan. The ANCB took active part on this in partnership with the Ministry of Planning and Development. Four thematic groups were set up: (1) Human Capital, Social and Cultural Affairs; (2) Economy, Productivity and Competitiveness; (3) Environmental Planning of the Territory; (4) Policies and Governance. The ANCB was represented within each thematic group by its technicians. The provisional version of the National Development Plan was submitted and is awaiting validation at the national level.
In relation to climate change, the ANCB has been involved since 2015 with its participation in the COP 21, 22 and 23. The ANCB has appointed a focal point for climate change, which is in contact with all the ministries involved in that field. All information gleaned here and there, is disseminated via the ANCB website and through the emails of the communes and departmental associations of communes. In October 2017 and as a prelude to COP 23 in Bonn, the ANCB organized a capacity-building workshop for members of its National Office. This activity was ratified with the development, by the mayors and their deputies, of a “Climate Change Action Plan” that it is urgent to implement this year. Though the financial difficulties have not yet enabled us to implement it. It is with pleasure that we will share this action plan with nrg4SD. The extension needs of NDCs, the internalization of the NAP process currently underway in Benin and the production of national vulnerability maps are the consistent elements of this plan.
As for biodiversity, the ANCB has recently made the necessary contacts with the Forest Research Center of the Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development. The first results of our collaboration are the responses to biodiversity questionnaire promoted by the Regions for Biodiversity Learning Platform. This questionnaire has already been completed online as requested.
nrg4SD : On February 7th, the RegionsAdapt initiative launched its 2017 Report which presented climate risks and data from 35 regional governments, 25% of which come from the African continent. Can you tell us about the challenges that Benin has faced in terms of climate change and what adaptation measures are being taken by subnational governments to face this problem?
ANCB: Indeed, Benin faces enormous challenges in terms of climate change such as:
- Droughts, floods and late and violent rains constitute the first three major climatic hazards;
- Violent winds and excessive heat are also two climatic risks that may be of great importance in certain localities and in certain situations;
- The occurrence of localized climatic risks, such as sea-level rise, with a low geographic footprint, but capable of major economic and social impacts.
These climate risks threaten the livelihoods of the local population. Several adaptation measures have been already adopted in Benin through the National Action Plans for Adaptation to Agriculture and Energy (PANA). However, the challenges continue and persist. The process of preparation of the National Adaptation Plan (NAP) is underway and the ANCB is actively participating.
nrg4SD: A delegation from the ANCB participated in COP 23 in Bonn last year. Can you tell us about this participation (main objectives and activities) and highlight some of your actions for the implementation of the Paris Agreement?
ANCB: The problem of implementing the Paris Agreement remains unresolved for the ANCB. A delegation from the ANCB participated in COP 23. Several reasons justify our participation:
- Capacity building through participation in different side events;
- Exchange of experiences between countries;
- The search for technical and financial partners that can accompany the ANCB to support its members on climate change issues.
Therefore, the main activities carried out were:
- Participation in several side events, including the side events focused on the financing sources of the climate action; on the Covenant of Mayors for Climate, on the launch of the UCLG Africa Climate Task Force;
- A working session at the GIZ office in Bonn on “What are we doing to the planet? With a delegation I personally led. After COP 23, the ANCB signed a partnership agreement with GIZ / PROSEHA;
- Sharing experiences between countries since I participated as a panelist during some sessions on the Covenant of Mayors on Climate;
- We supported the commune of Copargo, winner of the award “Climate Initiatives Trophy”, thanks to the technical support of the ANCB;
- Bilateral talks.