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Terms of Reference: Article on ‘Local governance and sustainability’
Type of contract: Individual contract (consultant)
Languages required: English or Russian
Duration: 20 August – 20 September 2011
Application deadline: 15 August 2011
As UNDP is unable to accept incomplete applications, interested parties should ensure that their applications contain all the information specified below.
These terms of reference (ToRs) describe the work to be conducted in order to write an article for the November 2011 issue of UNDP’s Development and Transition regional research bulletin.1 This article will be on the topic of “Local governance and sustainability in the developing and transition economies of Europe and Central Asia”.2 The article will be 1000-1200 words in length. A first draft is due 9 September 2011; the final draft is due 20 September 2011. The consultant who writes this article will work under the direction of the Development and Transition management team in UNDP’s Bratislava Regional Centre.
The 18th issue of UNDP’s Development and Transition regional research bulletin will be launched in November 2011, together with the release of UNDP’s global human development report on “Sustainability and Equity”.3 This issue of Development and Transition will examine links between environmental sustainability and questions of equity and justice in the transition and developing economies of Europe and Central Asia.
While sustainable environmental policies must be nested in appropriate national frameworks, effective programmatic responses must inevitably reflect the specifics of regional economies and local ecosystems. For example, progress in climate change mitigation depends very much on decisions made by municipal and regional authorities regarding public versus private transport infrastructure, and the zoning of industrial, agricultural, and residential construction activities. Likewise for waste management. In some countries in the region, industrial and household recycling standards are approaching global best practices. In others, recycling remains one the sadder dimensions of the informal sector, characterized by desperate people without other livelihood options scavenge trash bins and municipal waste dumps for potentially valuable materials.
While such differences can be explained in part by differing poverty levels, successes or failures in decentralization and local governance also have an influence. Waste collection and disposal may be the responsibility of municipalities, but the local authorities do not always possess the financial resources, control over local infrastructure, or institutional capacity needed to manage these tasks effectively—especially in small cities and towns, particularly in rural areas.
What are the lessons of effective communal services and local governance reform within the region? Are they transferable? To what extent must tariff increases be part of efforts to more effectively address the environmental risks associated with waste management? Might higher waste management tariffs pose hardships for low-income households? If so, what might be appropriate policy responses?
Description of responsibilities
The researcher to be engaged under this consultancy will write an article on the topic of “Local governance and sustainability in the developing and transition economies of Europe and Central Asia”. It will reflect the themes discussed in the previous section, as well as in the appendix. The article, which may be written in English or Russian, will be 1000-1200 words in length.
This article will provide concrete answers to the following set of questions:
Management arrangements and timelines
The consultant who writes this article will work under the direction of the Development and Transition management team in UNDP’s Bratislava Regional Centre.
Competencies and qualifications
The consultancy(s) engaged to do this work will have:
Applications should be sent electronically to Ms. Zuzana Aschenbrennerova, Development and Transition communications associate (Zuzana.Aschenbrennerova@undp.org). They should contain:
Payments will be made only upon confirmation of UNDP on delivering on the contract obligations in a satisfactory manner.
General terms and conditions as well as other related documents can be found under: http://europeandcis.undp.org/home/jobs
Qualified women and minorities are encouraged to apply.
Due to large numbers of applications received, UNDP regrets that it is unable to provide all interested parties with information about the status of their applications.
Evidence is mounting that development models based on consumerism and the perpetual exploitation of fossil fuels and biodiversity are placing unsustainable burdens on the planet’s carrying capacity. This is most apparent in terms of climate change: the common property resource represented by the earth’s capacity to absorb greenhouse gas emissions is being depleted at an unsustainable rate. Significant pressures are also apparent on global fisheries, clean water supplies, and more generally on the ecosystem services upon which human habitation relies.
Environmental sustainability is closely linked to questions of equity and justice, in at least three respects:
If not addressed, equity concerns can slow or stop movement towards more sustainable environmental policies. Perceptions of historical injustice are at the root of many developing countries’ resistance to adopting binding reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Attempts to raise household energy tariffs, inter alia to internalize the negative externalities associated with extracting, refining, and consuming fossil fuels, can meet with strong popular opposition—particularly from low-income households, and especially when combined with public perceptions of corruption or inequities within the energy sector.
In many respects, the sustainability and equity challenges facing the developing and transition economies of Europe and Central Asia4 are no different than those facing economies elsewhere. Problems of climate change mitigation and adaptation, of unsustainable demands on biodiversity and ecosystem services, and of the distributional consequences of higher energy and resource prices, are present in this region, as they are globally. But in other respects, these challenges in Europe and Central Asia do differ from those facing other regions. For one thing, the north-south paradigm that dominates international discourse around sustainability issues does not serve this region particularly well. In contrast to “northern” OECD-DAC countries—which have traditionally dominated global governance institutions, and whose carbon-intensive development has afforded their citizens relatively high (but arguably unsustainable) levels of welfare—and “southern” G77 countries, where worldviews and policies reflect the imperative of poverty alleviation, and the historical legacies of colonialism and dependency—most of the transition and developing economies of Europe and Central Asia are newcomers to this discourse.
Instead, the paradigm of transition from the state-socialist development models toward market economies and pluralistic polities at the very least supplements—and often dominates—north-south approaches in these countries. As a result, the logic, lexicon, and leitmotifs of the sustainability debate—in terms of sustainable production and consumption, green jobs and the green economy, and the like—do not always resonate in this region. This can limit these countries’ engagement in global sustainability debates, and in the global governance architecture. For example, while virtually all countries in the former Soviet Union and the Western Balkans are eligible for carbon finance flows that can help modernize their energy sectors, many do not actively participate in the global climate change negotiations. Likewise, only a handful of countries in the region have yet to put in place the regulatory framework needed to attract this finance. On the other hand, the region’s poorest countries in Central Asia are perhaps most vulnerable to climate change, as melting glaciers threaten the long-term water supplies on which some 55 million people, heavily irrigated agricultural sectors, and hydroelectricity infrastructure depend. Rising temperatures and more arid climatic conditions could further aggravate problems of desertification, land degradation, and falling crop yields already experienced by much of the region.
Many of these contradictions are also present in the case of the Russian Federation, which is both world’s fourth largest emitter of greenhouse gases, and one of its largest “carbon sinks” (in terms of forest cover). On the one hand, Russia is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change—particularly in the Far North, where melting permafrost is releasing growing amounts of methane and placing housing and transport infrastructure at risk. On the other hand, Russia could also benefit from the accelerated exploitation arctic energy and minerals, as well as from increased shipping along the northeast passage, made possible by the shrinking of the polar ice cap.
The imperative of combating climate change could further boost the development prospects of Russia, Azerbaijan, and Turkmenistan—exporters of natural gas, one of the world’s cleaner power sources. Despite this, Russia, Kazakhstan, and some other countries are moving to increase the share of coal and nuclear power in their primary energy balances—power sources with dramatically different implications for climate change, energy security, and worker health and safety. Nonetheless, perhaps the region’s largest contribution to climate change mitigation could be in the area of energy efficiency. If combined with increases in the shares of biomass and other renewables in primary energy balances, energy efficiency efforts could play large dividends, in terms of both mitigating climate change and reducing poverty by improving energy security and reducing energy costs.
The 18th issue of UNDP’s Development and Transition regional research bulletin, which will be launched in November 2011 together with the release of UNDP’s global human development report on Sustainability and Equity, examines these questions in the transition and developing economies of Europe and Central Asia. Particular topics that could be investigated include the following:
What is the region’s environmental footprint? Some observers have argued that unsustainable environmental practices and policies helped precipitate the collapse of the Soviet Union,5 and predetermined the unfavourable post-Soviet health and demographic trends apparent in the region. Others see the collapse of Soviet-era nature protection regimes (giving rise to poaching) and transition-era growth in consumerism as having caused irreparable biodiversity losses. Whereas some see the relatively low resource utilization levels and carbon emissions in the region’s low-income and lower middle-income countries as elements of sustainability that should be preserved, others see them as manifestations of poverty, to be relegated to the ash-heap of history by economic growth. What, really, do the data say about the region’s environmental footprint? How should these data be interpreted?
What does the region’s carbon profile look like? Trends in most countries’ greenhouse gas emissions during the past two decades fall into one of two categories. Most developing and some developed economies show monotonic increases in emissions during this time, tempered somewhat by the impact of recent high global energy prices, the global economic crisis in 2008-2009, energy conservation measures, and climate change mitigation efforts. On the other hand, greenhouse gas emissions from EU-15 countries, as well as from Switzerland and Norway, have essentially remained unchanged for two decades—reflecting large declines in emissions per dollar of GDP. Transition economies, by contrast, fall in neither of these categories. Most reported large declines in greenhouse gas emissions during the 1990s, due to the transition recession, sharp increases in relative prices for energy and raw materials, and the replacement of coal- by gas-fired boilers and power plants.6 Combined with the fact that many transition economies were not independent states when the Kyoto Protocol was signed, these trends met that few if any countries in the region have faced binding targets on their greenhouse gas emissions.
However, these same data indicate that the world’s most carbon-intensive economies are to be found in the former Soviet space. Moreover, in some countries, progress made in the 1990s has been partially undone in the subsequent decade, in countries where resource-based economic recoveries have led to disproportionate increases in the shares of GDP produced by energy, and raw-materials, and energy intensive manufacturing sectors (e.g., metallurgy, petrochemicals). How then, does the region’s carbon profile look today? Which countries have made the most progress toward “decarbonisation”? Should the countries that have made the most progress be treated as models for those that have not? Should the region’s low-income and lower middle-income economies—some of which face serious national and household energy insecurities—refrain from development strategies based on fossil fuels?
Carbon production, consumption, and trade in the region. Although official greenhouse gas metrics measure emissions, growing numbers of specialists are calling for a re-examination of production-based measurement of contributions to global warming. If County A emits carbon in order to produce goods that are consumed in Country B, shouldn’t Country B bear at least some of the blame for these emissions? Or should Country A be punished for investing in carbon-intensive industries—for engaging in “carbon dumping”? These questions could be particularly relevant for the region: a recent report finds that—after China—Russia, Poland, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan (along with Australia) were the world’s largest “carbon exporters” in 2008.
Carbon finance and transition. Their relatively carbon-intensive economies affords many countries in the region opportunities to attract carbon finance, either under the Kyoto protocol, or (for the new EU member states and some accession countries) within the framework of the European Trading System’s (ETS) cap-and-trade regime. In addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and helping to finance energy sector modernization, these flows can create green jobs. However, carbon finance inflows into the region to date have been below expectations.7 In the former Soviet Union, some governments have effectively chosen to remain outside the Kyoto framework, while others have been unable to create the regulatory framework needed to attract carbon finance. In the new member states, governments have often tilted the playing field to protect carbon-intensive domestic industries from the strictures of the ETS. What are the prospects for ramping up carbon finance flows into the region—particularly in light of the current and anticipated future evolution of the relevant global institutions (e.g., the climate investment funds, green climate fund)?
Sustainable production and consumption, and green jobs, in transition economies. The prevailing discourse on these topics often revolves around the world’s most developed economies, or rapidly growing developing economies like China and India, which are among the world’s largest waste emitters, and are often presented as competitors/challengers to the developed economies. The transposition of the “sustainable” and “green” concepts to lower-income developing and transition economies remains something of a rarity.8 How are concepts of transition toward sustainable environmental policies and practices most appropriately reconciled with transition toward market democracies? Which transition economies really are on the cutting edge of sustainability debates? To what extent production and consumption patterns become more sustainable because of economic transition? What shares of employment in these economies can be classified as “green jobs”?
Local governance and sustainability. While climate change mitigation must be nested in appropriate national policy frameworks, programmatic responses must inevitably reflect the specifics of regional economies and local ecosystems. In particular, climate change mitigation depends very much on decisions made by municipal and regional authorities regarding the development of public versus private transport, zoning and regulation of industrial, agricultural, and residential construction activities, and the like. Likewise for waste management. In some countries in the region, industrial and household recycling standards are approaching global best practices. In others, recycling remains one of the informal sector’s sadder dimensions, characterized by the unhealthy scavenging of trash bins and municipal waste dumps by desperate people without other livelihood options. While these differences can be explained in part by differing poverty levels, success or failure in decentralization and local governance also influence these outcomes. Whereas waste collection and disposal generally falls within the purview of municipalities, local authorities do not always possess the financial resources, control over local infrastructure, or institutional capacity needed to manage these tasks effectively—especially in small cities and towns, particularly in rural areas. What are the lessons of effective communal services and local governance reform within the region? Are they transferable? To what extent must tariff increases accompany efforts to more effectively address the environmental risks associated with waste management? Might higher waste management tariffs pose hardships for low-income households? If so, what might be appropriate policy responses?
Biofuels, commodity speculation, and food and fuel prices in the region. Russia and Kazakhstan are among the region’s largest producers and exporters of both food and energy (oil and gas). This makes them potentially important global players in biofuels—which implicitly force countries to choose between food and fuel production. It may also allow the prices of these countries’ key exports to be influenced (if not determined) by “speculation” in global commodity markets, rather than by underlying food and energy “fundamentals”. How are these issues playing out in Russia, Kazakhstan, and other important energy- and food-producing countries in the region?9
Capacity for effective climate change mitigation and adaptation: How can it be assessed? Governments—but also companies and civil societies—face many challenges in designing and implementing policies and changing practices in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change. How can institutional capacity for this response be assessed? Which countries in the region are best prepared for this response?
Energy, environment, and regional inequalities: Lessons from projects. Many energy and environment projects implemented by UNDP and other development agencies also address issues of regional disparities. Which projects have been most effective in this respect? What are the lessons learned from these projects?
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1 Development and Transition (http://www.developmentandtransition.net/) is disseminated to all UNDP staff working in the Europe and Central Asia region, as well as to 4000 external subscribers, in English and Russian. The concept note for this issue is appended to these ToRs.
2 Reference is to the new member states of the European Union, Turkey and the Western Balkans (including Kosovo, as per UN Security Council Resolution 1244), and the Soviet successor states.
4 Reference is to the new member states of the European Union, Turkey and the Western Balkans (including Kosovo, as per UN Security Council Resolution 1244), and the Soviet successor states.
5 See, for example, Murray Feshbach and Alfred Friendly, Ecocide in the USSR: Health and Nature Under Siege, Basic Books, 1992.
6 In some countries, declines in the share of GDP generated by carbon-intensive industrial sectors also contributed to reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. For more on this, see the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development’s recent The Low Carbon Transition report (http://www.ebrd.com/downloads/research/transition/trsp.pdf).
7 See, for example, Gábor J. Takács, “Hot Air? Carbon Markets and Sustainable Development”, Development and Transition, 25 June 2008 (http://www.developmentandtransition.net/Single-Article-Issue.118+M5a2df7d44fe.0.html); and Marina Olshanskaya and Ben Slay, “Carbon finance in Europe and the CIS”, ibid. (http://www.developmentandtransition.net/Single-Article-Issue.118+M58850d82380.0.html).
8 For an exception, see “Uzbekistan: Capabilities and Prospects for Transitioning to a Green Economy”, Development Focus issue 14 (June 2011), Center for Economic Research, Tashkent.
9 For more on this, see Thomas Legge, “Opportunities for Biofuels and Biomass in the Region”, Development and Transition, 25 June 2008 (http://www.developmentandtransition.net/Single-Article-Issue.118+M5cb2a615f27.0.html).