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Paving the way for LCDS

Low-carbon development strategies (LCDS) have attracted interest in the climate discourse as a soft alternative to voluntary or obligatory greenhouse gas emission reduction targets in developing countries, many of which have taken the initiative to embark on the process of drafting them. The ultimate aim of LCDS is to catalyse concrete actions that support development with fewer emissions without intervention. This study explores the prerequisites for developing an effective LCDS. It also looks at how international support for the development of LCDS works in practice. The aim of the report is to help move the discussion on LCDS forward towards a useful climate policy instrument. The study uses country case studies from Ghana and Indonesia.

On international support for LCDS, the paper makes the following observations:

  • a low-carbon development strategy is indispensible to sustainable development
  • there is a need to provide incentives to support low-emission development strategies
  • best practices and lessons learned suggest that the requirements for effectively developing and implementing an LCDS are high
  • specifically tailoring assistance to the country context may be more important than putting emphasis on the delivery of the strategy itself.

Based on the above analysis, the report makes additional recommendations to guide the discussion on LCDS as an international climate policy instrument.

  • A detailed prescription of the instrument may be impossible and counterproductive, and would not do justice to this variation across countries, though it is possible to define building blocks for an LCDS, derive lessons learned and give guidance for the process of developing an LCDS.
  • Flexibility in the process – ensuring buy-in and ownership of the development and outcomes of the LCDS requires stakeholder involvement and flexibility.

The paper offers the following guidance for developing a national LCDS:

  • creating an effective LCDS needs to be a participatory process under strong senior leadership within the government
  • it is important to align the technical and political process of LCDS development in order to ensure that the strategy has strong buy-in, is properly integrated into the policy process and informed by sound analysis
  • it is also important to be realistic in planning the LCDS process without expecting fast results.