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Whole-of-Society Approaches to Inclusive Stakeholder Engagement

Cover photo courtesy of the NDC Partnership

Stakeholder engagement is vital for effective climate action, acting as a driving force for enhancing and implementing Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).  

To achieve transformative change, governments are increasingly embracing a whole-of-society approach to inclusive stakeholder engagement. This method seeks to boost involvement and contributions to climate action while prioritizing institutional arrangements and cultivating meaningful relationships among stakeholders. By leveraging existing capacities, inclusive engagement can foster commitments from actors new to climate action, embed climate priorities within stakeholders' commitments and ensure policies are just, fair and respectful of human rights. 

The NDC Partnership has received over 800 requests for stakeholder-engagement related support, as national governments seek to adopt more rigorous and holistic approaches to mainstreaming climate ambition and action on both a national and local level.  

In response, and alongside direct in-country support, the Partnership recently published a new Best Practice Brief to provide guidance and examples on how to apply a whole-of-society approach to effectively engage stakeholders in the enhancement, planning and implementation of NDCs. 

Recognizing that achieving ambitious climate policy goals requires public acceptance, political will and capacity building within government and society, the whole-of-society approach involves engaging diverse stakeholders at multiple levels and across various sectors. 

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In practice, this means building upon stakeholder engagement iterations to incorporate new actors and deepen engagement with existing ones until all relevant sectors and levels are actively involved and empowered to take ownership of climate action. 
In the Dominican Republic, for example, public sector bodies like the Ministry of Economy, Planning and Development (MEPyD) and the Ministry of Environment collaborate with inter-ministerial bodies like the National Council for Climate Change (CNCCMDL) to execute the National Climate Change Policy and update the country’s NDC. This demonstrates a whole-of-society approach in action, integrating national-level and sectoral stakeholder engagement throughout the NDC process to deliver transformative social and economic change in line with development priorities. 

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Given each country’s distinct social circumstances and institutional frameworks, the method by which a government seeks to implement a whole-of-society approach will vary accordingly. In all cases, governments should consider adopting institutional arrangements relevant to their national circumstances. These arrangements are the formal and informal policies, systems, and processes used to manage activities and coordinate with others, requiring whole-of-government and whole-of-society approaches to meet development and climate commitments. 

In Cambodia, for example, the National Council for Sustainable Development (NCSD) oversees climate efforts, supported by the Climate Change Technical Working Group (CCTWG) and the Department of Climate Change (DCC), promoting partnerships and inclusivity through regular consultations and alliances. Burkina Faso, meanwhile, has benefitted from Climate Analytics and GIZ's NDC Assist II Project support, which strengthens resource mobilization and fosters sustainable engagement through capacity-building and partnerships with national stakeholders. 

The brief provides other case studies and best practices drawn from NDC Partnership member countries for strengthening existing institutional arrangements, including recommendations to: 

  1. Coordinate actions across sectors with line ministries and specialized agencies to identify intersections and ensure inclusivity. 
  1. Create conditions for civil society and private sector input, acknowledging their crucial role in NDC processes. 
  1. Plan for stakeholder engagement throughout the NDC policy cycle to foster consistent involvement and accountability. 
  1. Build internal technical capacity to mainstream gender equality and social inclusion, ensuring diverse perspectives are incorporated. 

The strategies, standards and care that go into organizing each stakeholder engagement are key in building up institutional structures of coordination and joint action. Meaningful stakeholder engagement seeks to share ownership of NDC targets and actions, requiring agencies to communicate consistently with stakeholders and to tailor engagement strategies, especially when working with groups that are often left behind.  

Appropriate planning must encompass necessary technical assistance, funding, and resources for implementation. When crafting stakeholder engagement plans, it's essential to consider best practices that foster mutual trust, sustainability and co-ownership. These include tailoring engagement according to stakeholder needs and priorities, acknowledging the value of stakeholder contributions, maintaining consistent communication and following up on commitments and inputs.   

The Best Practice Brief shares examples of meaningful stakeholder engagement across the Partnership. In Peru, for instance, non-state actors like universities and indigenous peoples' organizations have actively participated in climate initiatives, with their contributions integrated into the government's coordination mechanism for climate action. Similarly, in Georgia, public comments gathered during climate policy consultations were actively and transparently captured for consideration through online engagement. 

While embracing a whole-of-society approach to NDC processes presents a complex challenge for governments, involving more stakeholders is essential for achieving transformative climate action. The NDC Partnership’s Best Practice Brief: Whole-of-Society Approaches to Inclusive Stakeholder Engagement draws on extensive experience from across the Partnership to offer guidance and recommendations for countries seeking to foster comprehensive partnerships with all national stakeholders engaged in climate action and NDC implementation. 

Through direct support from the NDC Partnership, specifically via the Global Call for NDCs 3.0 & LT-LEDS Alignment, Update, and Enhancement, governments can already begin integrating these best practices into their work. This paves the way for a stronger collective revision of NDCs in 2025 in line with the outcomes of the Global Stocktake.