Green Accountability: A crucial yardstick for making the Green Economy work

22 August 2023
by Wayne Rukero

Experts estimate that globally, USD100-billion of climate finance is being lost through a lack of accountability, transparency and participation per year. As such, there is growing public demand for access to information relating to the Namibian Government and its role in just renewable energy and green hydrogen projects. It is also vital for development finance institutions, institutional investors, governments and developers to pull together and upscale conversations around green accountability.

Global spend on climate change is nearing USD2.4-trillion annually and so high standards of accountability and transparency are essential to avoid corruption and mismanagement and to ramp up the just renewable energy and green hydrogen industry. In addition, to optimise the benefit of investments into the green economy, transparency, equity, and inclusion must be at the heart of renewable energy and green hydrogen finance decision-making.

Conceptualising green accountability

Green accountability is an approach that creates systemic ways for people to have a voice and role in just renewable energy and green hydrogen related decisions that most affect their lives. It places citizens and civil society at the heart of just renewable energy and green hydrogen finance to direct funding, implement solutions and hold decision-makers accountable for effective and equitable finance and action. It is a process through which communities on the front lines of the climate crisis can co-create and oversee climate prevention, mitigation and adaptation efforts; reduce corruption in climate-related programming; and ensure greater inclusion and equity within their societies.

The basis for a more coherent green accountability framework exists in the Paris Agreement. It enshrines the principles of country ownership, transparency, and public participation, and recognises the rights of indigenous peoples, local communities and vulnerable groups, as well as gender equality. Article 13 of the Agreement establishes an Enhanced Transparency Framework to build trust among parties and promote effective implementation, providing the ability to track progress towards climate goals. However, this does not go far enough in terms of putting in place broad, global standards for accountability, monitoring the transparency of climate finance or ensuring meaningful participation of communities in this process.

Creating systems for accountable green finance

Ideally, financing of just renewable energy and green hydrogen projects should not only succeed in reducing carbon emissions. It ought also to address inequality and exclusion. By adopting a joint approach that considers both the supply and demand side of governance, carbon emissions may be reduced, resilience ignited, and a way paved for more inclusive and sustainable growth. Civil society could also play a crucial role in co-creating systems for accountable just renewable energy and green hydrogen finance. 

A participatory and transparent architecture for just renewable energy and green hydrogen finance that truly puts people at the centre of the energy transition agenda is therefore essential. It has been known that in times past, large sudden in-flows of financing, such as those following oil discoveries have often failed to benefit vulnerable communities and led to increased capture and corruption (the so-called “resource curse”). Thus, through effective monitoring and green accountability, the mistakes of the old can and should now be avoided.

Alternate accountability frameworks in Namibia

In terms of the Harambee Prosperity Plan (2021 to 2025), the Namibian President has indicated that accountability and transparency are one of the five pillars of effective governance in Namibia. Moreover, in the national Vision 2030, a policy framework for the long-term socio-economic development of the country, good governance, accountability and transparency are marked as chief cornerstones for creating an enabling environment for sustainable development in Namibia.

From a constitutional standpoint, the Public Service Commission and the Office of the Ombudsman are in place. Both these offices are important administrative and democratic safeguards. If implemented effectively, they could enhance accountability and openness in government as far as it relates to the financing of just renewable energy and green hydrogen projects. In particular, the Office of the Ombudsman was specifically created to promote administrative accountability in the public service.

However, it must be noted that the progressive Access to Information Act, 2022 has not become fully operational yet. That may be a cause of complacency on the part of government and government officials for not proactively and promptly making information available relating to just renewable energy and green hydrogen related projects. As such, green accountability remains a rather novel concept in ordinary Namibian parlance with no specific guiding policy framework in place at present.

Reviewed by Jessica Blumenthal, an Executive in ENS’ Banking and Finance practice.

Wayne Rukero
Associate | Namibia