Catalyzing Progress on National Climate Plans After Paris
By Michael Comstock, Climate Change Technical Specialist at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
For the last three years, UNDP – in coordination with the UNFCCC Secretariat and partners – has been regularly convening countries to advance progress for the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. Over 150 countries have benefitted from three global workshops and 14 regional dialogues since 2014. In the lead-up to the Paris negotiations, these dialogues and workshops contributed to countries successfully submitting their climate plans, or intended Nationally Determined Contributions (iNDCs), which formed the heart of the first truly global climate agreement.
Since Paris, the focus has shifted toward translating these plans into action in the context of countries’ development priorities. Through our international events, as well as our in-country work, UNDP has had the opportunity to learn from the experiences of countries from every corner of the globe as they begin to take steps toward achieving their climate goals. As we enter a new round of regional NDC dialogues, I would like to quickly outline three important messages that have emerged since Paris:
- Successful implementation of NDCs – which are ostensibly more ambitious in scope than previous climate-related efforts – necessitates a new paradigm. Countries are making concerted efforts to mainstream climate change and NDC goals into long-term planning processes and development efforts – notably, in the context of the global Sustainable Development Goals and sectoral priorities. This is critical given the intrinsic link between climate and development and the global mandate to continually ratchet up ambition through future NDCs every five years. Such a holistic approach to climate and development requires the engagement of a much broader set of players, including ministries of finance and planning; sectoral line ministries such as agriculture and energy; trade associations; project developers; and financiers, among others. Countries are therefore adopting government-wide approaches that enhance coordination among government agencies at all levels while actively engaging non-government stakeholders.
- Countries are grappling with how to fund NDC implementation. Many countries are already reviewing their national climate finance landscape – finance flows, public expenditures, and planned investments in key sectors – while undertaking assessments of finance needs for NDC implementation. Some of these costs will be covered by national budgets and international support; directly linking climate with development efforts can help mobilize funds from these sources. However, it is evident that the private sector, as the engine of low-carbon economic activities, will need to be front and center in financing NDC implementation. Catalyzing private finance at scale requires that governments invest public funding strategically. Countries have also clearly identified the need for assistance in articulating coherent NDC funding strategies, developing pipelines of investment-ready projects, and creating enabling environments for private investment.
- Peer-to-peer exchanges are critical for countries to learn from one another and to advance global progress. NDC implementation is ultimately about transforming development trajectories. Countries have found themselves navigating this uncharted territory together and advancing incrementally as needed. They are drawing on the experiences of peer countries, learning by doing, and building on past experiences. For example, countries are working through how to build on low-emission development strategies and national adaptation plans as they develop NDC implementation plans, and they are strengthening existing monitoring systems to track NDC progress. UNDP’s NDC dialogues and other platforms, including the NDC Partnership, are providing an avenue for learning what has worked in other countries, improving technical capacity, and building trust to collectively advance global progress on NDCs.
Going forward through 2018, the next round of regional NDC dialogues will make a conscious effort to expand participation to a broader range of stakeholders, including private-sector representatives and government agencies beyond ministries of environment. With a focus on opportunities to catalyze private investment and implement NDCs at the sectoral level, they will address:
- Refining targets and actions to align with changing national circumstances;
- Mainstreaming climate change into sectoral line ministries’ decision-making;
- The role of sub-national governments in achieving national targets while taking into account local needs;
- New skills and technical capacities that may be needed at the national level for NDC implementation; and
- How new technologies and innovative approaches in the near term can contribute to a low-carbon future in the longer term.
The next NDC dialogue is scheduled for 30 August to 1 September 2017 in Ecuador for Latin American countries, followed by a dialogue for African countries in Morocco from 26-28 September 2017. The dialogues are being implemented in close collaboration with the NDC Partnership, which is facilitating knowledge sharing and technical assistance for countries.