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FEATURE: Sharing learning on NDC implementation – Lessons from Kampala

Last year, CDKN hosted a two-day South-South learning exchange in Kampala, Uganda on the theme of NDC implementation. The event convened government representatives and project managers from Uganda, Kenya, Zambia and Bangladesh – all countries that had been piloting the NDC Quick-Start Guide to NDC Implementation, with assistance from Ricardo Energy and Environment. Claire Monkhouse and Emma Baker reflect on the themes.

Within the broad theme of integrating NDC implementation into national development planning, the exchange included discussions around governance, awareness, capacity, financing the delivery of NDCs, and measurement, reporting and verification (MRV). Following were the key messages from the discussions:

NDCs build on existing climate actions

Although NDCs are new, for many countries the commitments build on existing action on climate change. Participants reported that the challenge now is in deciding what should be classed as “NDC implementation”, and from what date; and in aligning the existing policy landscape and the NDC. In  particular, their countries are linking NDCs and climate policy with national development planning cycles; and creating linkages to the Sustainable Development Goals and Sendai Framework. Without these connections it was felt that the NDC would risk being a stand-alone commitment that doesn’t strengthen what was in place before, rather than something that is commonly owned and relevant across all sectoral Ministries, at the national and local level.

Capacity for NDC implementation is critical

Capacity was an overarching issue over the two days. Participants raised the need to identify both what capacities are needed, and who needs to have them. Those present were keen to undertake a comprehensive review of capacity requirements for NDC implementation, and to then use this to inform the development of a capacity building plan, which could be integrated into their broader NDC implementation plans. The main capacity issues raised can be grouped in two ways:

Institutional capacity – Participants reported challenges in how to co-ordinate implementation of the NDC at different levels of government (national and subnational), and across ministries, departments and agencies. There was no clear understanding yet about what financial and human resources, skills, knowledge and tools would be needed to do this effectively; and what official mandates or agreements might be needed to support it. The capacity of the central coordinating team was seen as the immediate priority.

Technical capacity – A broad set of technical capacities will be needed for NDC implementation, but the two main ones raised by participants were around measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) and access to finance.

  • Financing NDCs
    Financing NDC implementation is clearly a major concern. The most pressing need identified was for local capacity to develop bankable proposals to secure access to finance, and the GCF in particular. Anecdotally, of all the concept notes for funding developed in one of the countries, only a small percentage were of sufficient quality to take forward. It was recognised that these are specific skills that will need to be developed. They also shared a common challenge of how to engage the private sector, noting that it is not a homogenous group and there is a need to identify which actors are most important with respect to implementation. Lessons were also shared around setting up national climate change funds to help advance NDC implementation (e.g. Bangladesh).
  • Measurement, reporting and verification
    For MRV, participants raised a number of issues, noting also that the specifc reporting requirements of the Paris Agreement have not yet been agreed and so there is a degree of uncertainty as to what will be required. It was recognised that more capacity is needed to co-ordinate data centrally, and collect high quality data sectorally. It is not yet fully understood what needs be collected in order to meet miscellaneous national and international reporting requirements, and consequently whether the tools and systems that are already in place will be sufficient or (most likely) need to be modified. Once there is clarity on this it will be possible to identify what skills (and resources) will be needed and where. There was also an issue raised about how the institutional memory can be improved to guard against lost information and staff changes. In addition, where reporting is on a voluntary basis, there can be issues with the centralised co-ordinating body accessing the data. Legal mandates or Memoranda of Understanding for data sharing are one potential solution (e.g. Kenya’s Climate Change Act requires this).

National ownership is needed – and can’t be taken for granted

Participants emphasised the need to develop broad national support to support NDC implementation, inside and outside government, and at different levels of government, i.e. national and subnational. Parliament also needs to be aware of the NDC, given its role in signing off national budgets and in connecting national policy with action on the ground locally. There is a difference between raising general awareness of the NDC to build a mandate; and in engaging those stakeholders who have a specific role to play in implementation. Although stakeholders had been involved to varying degrees in the development of (I)NDCs, on reflection participants felt that the process hadn’t necessarily engaged all the right or most critical stakeholders, and that it was now necessary to identify who these are, for what reason, and to design ways of working with them specifically.

Key data is still missing

The lack of baseline data was identified as a barrier to setting appropriate mitigation targets. This was raised particularly for the agriculture, forestry and other land use (AFOLU) sector, where data is often poor, yet the sector comprises a large part of many countries’ mitigation contributions. Concerns were expressed about how realistic targets could be in these instances, with a suggestion that rather than being more ambitious, the next set of NDCs need to be better grounded in evidence.

Over the two days, the learning exchange provided space for participants to share the real challenges they were experiencing, to talk through practical solutions, and to hear lessons from other countries. Participants were also given the opportunity to devise action points in country groupings to take forward after the event.

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