Planning for NDC implementation: A Quick-Start Guide


Resource: Planning for NDC implementation: A Quick-Start Guide

Published by: CDKN and Ricardo Energy and Environment

Available at:

A PDF version will be available soon

The Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) and Ricardo Energy & Environment have recently launched a “quick-start guide” to planning for NDC implementation.
We asked James Harries, Senior Technical Consultant at Ricardo Energy and Environment, about the background to its development, and its basic methodology. In future notes we will return to different modules of this important resource for those responsible for NDC implementation.

The genesis of the quick-start guide was the awareness at CDKN and Ricardo that, with the focus moving from negotiation to implementation after COP 21 in Paris, a number of countries were looking to get on with the process of planning the next steps in turning their INDCs into actionable projects.

James Harries, Senior Technical Consultant at Ricardo Energy and Environment
“In many cases” says James Harries at Ricardo, “the INDCs were quite high-level documents, and obviously you can’t go straight from that to implementation on the ground. There needs to be a phase of developing NDC action plans or roadmaps or sectoral plans.”

Though it covers the whole process up to and including implementation, it is these earlier preparation and planning stages where the quick-start guide will probably have most relevance to most countries, allowing them to get a handle on their priorities and immediate needs for NDC implementation.

The guide is built around a five module framework, which Ricardo began to develop during the course of their work with a number of countries on preparing their INDCs ahead of COP 21 in Paris.  These 5 pillars are mitigation, adaptation, finance, MRV (measurement, reporting and verification) and governance and co-ordination.

The guide suggests a three-phase approach to NDC implementation. The first of these phases is preparation, the second is the creation of the implementation plan (and, in many cases, supporting sectoral plans), and the third is delivery of the plan or plans.  The 5 modules can be used in each of these stages.

The main objective of the first (preparation) phase will be to scope out the implementation plan – what it will broadly cover, what its timeframe will be, how it will fit in with another sustainable development and low carbon policies that a country may have developed.  The last issue is particularly important in countries which already have significant climate related policies and strategies in place.

The preparation phase also looks at finalising a country’s initial NDC upon ratification of the Paris agreement. Many countries have submitted their pre-Paris INDC as their first NDC. But some countries have taken the opportunity to improve on their INDCs before submitting them as their first actual NDC. Morocco, as the host of COP 22, has set a good example in terms of submitting a revised NDC which is more detailed on costs than its pre-Paris INDC, and includes more ambitious mitigation targets.

There could be significant benefits to doing this.  “For example,” says Harries, “more detail in a revised NDC may make it a more useful basis for conversations with donors on funding mitigation and adaptation actions or capacity building plans.”  The revision process might also enable more buy-in between government and non-government stakeholders on key objectives, especially where this was not possible in the development of the INDCs in 2015, due to shortage of time.

Once countries get beyond the preparation phase and start on the detail of drawing up their implementation plan, an early activity will most likely be to carry out a gap analysis to identify priority next steps. The guide sets out how to perform such an analysis under each of the five modules, to identify the need for improvements in government and sectoral delivery capacity, finance needs etc.

Harries says that an approach being adopted in number of countries – for example Nigeria and Bangladesh – is to develop NDC implementation plans on a sectoral basis, but with an overall roadmap that identifies cross-cutting issues across sectors such as common MRV indicators to be used.

For the final – implementation – phase the guide covers issues such as ongoing coordination of delivery, capacity building and NDC revision ahead of the delivery of updated (and more ambitious) commitments in 2020.

While Harries sees the key audience for the guide as the government departments charged with NDC implementation, he also believes that it could be useful for other stakeholders such as donors, NGOs and DFIs and other finance providers in terms of identifying the ways that they may be able to provide useful support.

In government circles, Harries believes that while finance ministries will be key, the teams responsible for coordinating NDC implementation have often tended to sit within the environment ministry.  The Governance module of the guide provides advice to such teams on how to achieve the widest possible engagement in and buy-in of the implementation process.

“We see governance as the glue which really binds all this together,” says Harries.  “The degree to which countries will be able to deliver mitigation and adaptation actions and find finance for them will be heavily tied up with the extent to which they can get buy-in from the ministries which hold the levers of delivery –  that is, the ones with responsibility for planning and action in the sectors where delivery will need to take place, such as transport, agriculture, forestry, energy and power, minerals.”  The guide offers advice on how to set up a co-ordination team to best achieve this buy-in.

In future posts we will focus in on specific modules of the guide.

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