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FEATURE: How are countries getting ready to implement NDCs?

The Global NDC Conference 2019 took place in Berlin, 12-14 June, with the aim of inspiring and enabling policy-makers and practitioners to accelerate NDC implementation and climate ambition. National governments shared experience of how they are preparing to deliver their NDCs. Mairi Dupar of CDKN  reports. 

Day one of the conference was rich with experiences from the global South and North on integrated governance. Specifically, countries shared insights on how they are implementing, or getting ready to implement their NDCs under the Paris Agreement. Readiness for NDCs is happening in three main ways: Prioritisation, Processes, and Partnerships. (See the related blogs by Sam Bickersteth on Finance and by Paul May on Transparency for more on those topics.)


Gearing up for NDC implementation is about getting climate action to the top of everyone’s priority list. Panellists and delegates were widely in agreement: climate change cannot only be the priority for one ministry or stakeholder group but it has to be a shared priority across government at all levels and across society. “Everyone is a climate change stakeholder now,” said one speaker.

The latest findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have put everyone on a much “higher level of alert” than before, said Gerd Trogemann of UNDP. “Now [climate change] is on everyone’s mind, whether you deal directly with [climate] or not. Now we have a clear scientific roadmap saying we have just a decade to put an end to catastrophic outcomes.”

Nicholas Heubeck, a young climate activist from Germany, is one of several representatives from youth climate movements around the world who have joined the conference. Heubeck had described, at the previous night’s reception, how Germany has more than 500 ‘Fridays for the Future’ chapters. These groups of school pupils go on weekly climate strike with one clear message: “Achieve the long term goal of the Paris Agreement.” According to Heubeck, this movement is “putting a face on the climate crisis and raising public awareness.” The initiative has been picked up by more than 1.5 million young people worldwide and continues to grow.


Institutional arrangements are the underpinning for effective implementation of NDCs and enable the ‘prioritisation’ of climate action to play out in practice.

Countries’ individual NDCs, together with the monitoring, reporting and verification obligations of the Paris rulebook, are bringing countries into new governance territory and call for new institutional arrangements and processes.

The German Federal Minister of the Environment, Ms Svenja Schulze, described how Germany has established a ‘Climate Cabinet’ whereby each Minister needs to report to the Chancellor on her/his department’s progress on integrating climate change into policies and investments.

Mukund Kumar Sinha of India’s Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs reflected that “The Paris rulebook is a pretty recent phenomenon,” and as such, the Government of India is applying the rulebook to ”policy decisions, project decisions, implementation and how we implement mid-course corrections” in policy.

It is especially important that policy processes should be adaptive and allow for mid-course corrections, he said, because countries are working at pace and trialling climate-smart approaches that are still relatively new.

To the countries’ emergent processes for NDC delivery may also be added ‘hard law’. In most countries, law is considered a vital prerequisite for hard-wiring climate ambition into national governance. Climate legislation can establish climate targets that withstand swings of the political pendulum and changes of government.

Several European countries are now legislating for net zero emissions by 2050, pushed by what Trogemann called the “harsh reality of the IPCC’s science”.


The third major governance pillar of NDC implementation is about nurturing the spirit of cross-society partnership among governmental and non-governmental actors. This is about both formal and informal cooperation and working together in the same direction to address climate change.

Rosa Morales, General Director for Climate Change and Desertification, Government of Peru, described how Peru has “a national roadmap to understand how 62 measures in mitigation and 91 measures in adaptation are going to be implemented and reach the results we want in 2030. [Now] we are starting a line of work with the subregional governments: this is important to have a territorial view on the implementation of the NDC in Peru. We have the vision of the central government but we need to understand the needs in the territories in Peru.

Furthermore, Peru has passed a Climate Change Law. The bylaw necessary for implementation has been developed via a participatory process and is now “in the process of prior consultation with indigenous people” she said.

“In multistakeholder work, even though we started working with indigenous people, private sector, civil society, NGOs, we think we need to strengthen this work. Climate change is an issue that needs everyone on board.”

It is necessary for every stakeholder group to be responsible for every climate action – she added – but rather, than everyone has ownership for climate ambition and knows how they can contribute to the solution.

Higher ambition

Indeed, new partnerships and forms cooperation will be essential, not just for delivering countries’ current NDC ambitions, but for the updated NDCs with increased ambition that countries are invited to submit to the UNFCCC by next year.

Increased ambition is vital because current NDCs together still commit the world to 3 oC of warming or higher.

Keynote speaker Stefan Rahmstorf, Professor and Head of Earth System Analysis, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, reminded delegates: “Global warming is unequivocal and ongoing, the impacts are not subtle and felt already. The NDCs are not enough.”

It will take everyone pulling together to dramatically increase our collective climate ambitions and achieve the 1.5oC long-term temperature goal of the Paris Agreement.

The Global NDC Conference 2019 aimed to inspire and enable policy-makers and practitioners to accelerate the pace and scale of transformational change through NDC implementation in order to reach the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement. CDKN was an organising partner; see



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