Combatting climate change requires every effort by individuals, organizations, and institutions, no matter how big or small. Prioritizing the climate while maintaining the credibility, integrity, and inclusivity of electoral processes, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) is partnering with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to promote environmentally conscious elections.
Elections are often the single largest event in a country. While electoral processes generate a fraction of the greenhouse gas emissions of industry, transportation, or deforestation, reducing the environmental impact of highly visible public events like elections can set an example of the efforts needed to fight climate change.
This new project, “Elections for People and the Planet—Promoting Environmentally Conscious Elections,” will support key electoral stakeholders in identifying and minimizing the negative environmental impacts of electoral processes, tracking positive impacts from implemented actions, and suggesting climate-conscious actions. It will adapt UNDP’s existing carbon footprint calculator to help electoral stakeholders make responsible, data-informed decisions regarding the sustainability of various elections-related activities. IFES and UNDP will also produce a practical guide to identify good practices and offer practical steps to conduct more environmentally conscious elections, considering all phases of the electoral cycle.
“This unique, first-of-its-kind tool will be a great asset to the election sector to lead in an area that is an existential threat to democracy and human rights,” said IFES Senior Global Advisor for Conflict, Displacement, and Minority Rights Vasu Mohan when announcing this launch.
As a trusted leader in the protection of the promotion of democracy worldwide, IFES is in a unique position to partner with UNDP, the largest implementor of U.N. electoral assistance, to support effective electoral assistance around the world.
At a time when it is critical to address the effects of climate change on democratic rights and governance, the project will further IFES’s existing body of knowledge produced by IFES’s Environmental and Climate Impact on Elections Toolkit and Electoral Rights of Environmentally Displaced Persons paper. These resources offer unique research, resources, and recommendations to address the intersection of climate change with electoral and political rights.
This project will also leverage existing knowledge and expertise from UNDP’s Climate Promise initiative, the world’s largest offer of support to countries on national climate pledges under the Paris Agreement. These pledges, or Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), are crucial stepping stones towards net-zero emissions and meeting the Paris goals. The initiative supports over 120 countries in collaboration with over 35 partners and is a major contribution to the NDC Partnership.
“Elections for People and the Planet—Promoting Environmentally Conscious Elections” is a joint project by UNDP Governance Unit, UNDP Climate Promise, and IFES. In September 2022, IFES and UNDP reaffirmed through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) their joint commitment to continue their longstanding partnership to support effective electoral assistance around the world.