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Next Steps toward Implementing NDCs

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This week world leaders and ministers from around the world are descending on New York City to sign the much-lauded Paris Agreement – the first-ever global climate change agreement that aspires to put the world on a zero-carbon pathway while taking into account countries’ development priorities. In the context of the agreement, an astounding 189 countries have come forward with Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) that lay out national plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve resilience to climate change (these intended contributions will become NDCs once the Paris Agreement is ratified).

UNDP played a central role in the preparation of INDCs in the lead-up to Paris. We provided technical and financial assistance to 43 countries with generous support from donors, hosted 12 international workshops around the world to build technical capacity and exchange experiences among countries, and developed pioneering guidance with the World Resources Institute (WRI) on how to go about preparing INDCs. UNDP’s on-going work with countries on climate change mitigation and adaptation actions, sustainable development strategies, monitoring systems, and related areas also contributed to countries’ ability to submit INDCs.

Although the Paris Agreement and INDC submissions are important milestones, the challenge going forward will be turning the plans and goals outlined in INDCs into concrete actions. Countries are at different stages of planning for NDC implementation, and for many, support from the international community will be critical during this process. A recent UNDP survey of 58 developing countries identified a number of areas in which countries will need support. These include developing implementation plans to translate NDCs into concrete actions, building institutions and systems to manage NDC implementation, and mobilizing public and private finance to implement climate change measures.

In recent discussions with one Latin American country, a senior government official explained his country’s plans to distribute its national mitigation goal across sectors and geographic regions. He underscored the need for raising national awareness on NDCs, strengthening coordination among ministries, and building technical capacity at various levels of government in order to do so.

Taking into account UNDP’s survey and knowledge gained from our extensive NDC work with countries, we have begun developing with WRI a draft framework for NDC implementation. Although not necessarily chronological, the following are key stages of the NDC implementation process through which countries may find themselves navigating over the coming months and years:

  1. Building national awareness on NDCs (among ministries, local governments, the private sector, the general public, and other stakeholders);
  2. Strengthening institutional arrangements and technical capacities to manage NDC implementation;
  3. Identifying information gaps and undertaking technical analyses;
  4. Developing NDC implementation plans that prioritize concrete mitigation and adaptation measures to achieve NDC goals;
  5. Developing funding strategies to mobilize public resources, private investment, and international support based on implementation plans;
  6. Implementing mitigation and adaptation measures in sectors, including enabling conditions to remove barriers to implementation;
  7. Developing monitoring systems, collecting data, and transparently reporting progress toward NDC goals;
  8. Adjusting measures and designing new ones as needed to achieve NDC goals; and
  9. Planning for future NDC rounds beginning in 2020, including institutionalizing processes and updating long-term strategies.

Going forward, UNDP will remain a key partner for developing countries in this process, building on our past and current work. Support will include technical assistance in the above areas, direct financial assistance to countries, and additional international workshops to exchange country experiences and build capacity to implement NDCs. This support to countries will continue to emphasize the inextricable link between countries’ climate change goals and sustainable development priorities. For example, UNDP support to one African country is helping government officials to align NDC implementation with the strategic goals of its national climate change plan: to foster low-carbon, high-growth economic development and build a climate resilient society.

By effectively implementing NDCs while underscoring this link with sustainable development, we will be able to achieve not only the ambitious aspirations of the Paris Agreement but also progress toward the recent UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This link will be front and center as countries return this week to New York City, where they adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 SDGs just seven months ago.

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