New briefing supports greater ambition for countries’ NDCs

New or updated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) have been submitted by 110 out of 191 Parties to the Paris Agreement by the recent deadline. For those Parties that remain, IIED has unpacked the Paris Agreement guidance to show – taken together – they can enhance climate ambition in NDCs.

News, 12 August 2021
UN climate change conference (COP26)
A series of pages related to IIED's activities at the 2021 UNFCCC climate change summit in Glasgow
Woman holds a hose in a greenhouse of pepper plants

Farmer waters red peppers grown in a greenhouse in Tithokoze Farm, Mpingu, Malawi (Photo: Melissa Cooperman/IFPRI via FlickrCC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Parties to the Paris Agreement are committed to submit more ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) every five years to keep global warming below 1.5°C. While many countries have missed the 2020 NDC deadline, they are still expected to submit them before the UN climate negotiations (COP26) in November 2021. 

Updating an NDC presents technical and financial challenges, as it requires policy coordination among different ministries and stakeholders, access to information and analytical capacity.  

This can be even more challenging for least developed countries (LDCs), but they are committed to submitting updated NDCs and showing leadership in relation to the Paris Agreement goals. 

A new briefing shows how considering technical guidance agreed as part of the Paris Agreement ‘rulebook’ can help countries in preparing and communicating an NDC, as well as tracking its implementation. It draws on experience from Malawi to show how the guidance works in action. 

The guidance comprises: 

  • The modalities, procedures and guidelines (MPGs) of the enhanced transparency framework (ETF): applying the MPGs will be mandatory from 2024 as countries report progress in implementing their NDC (with mitigation goals at the core)
  • Information to facilitate clarity, transparency and understanding (iCTU): while currently optional, countries must follow iCTU guidance when preparing their second NDC, expected by 2025, and 
  • Guidance on adaptation communication: this is optional, but any country planning to include adaptation goals in an NDC is encouraged to consider this (87% of NDCs submitted in the first round did include adaptation issues, making this widely relevant). 

While submitting NDCs can be challenging, it gives countries the opportunity to take stock of their climate priorities and needs.  

The benefits to using the new guidance include greater consistency across reporting countries; coherence across NDCs results in a better picture of the collective progress towards the Paris Agreement goals. 

IIED researcher Fernanda Alcobé said: “Countries can benefit from considering the iCTU guidance during the NDC preparation as they can facilitate defining clear targets and selecting suitable indicators and methodologies to track progress, as this information will inform their ETF biannual reporting.”

Including adaptation in NDCs is beneficial at all levels, from sub-national to international. At sub-national and national level, setting adaptation targets can help prioritise adaptation needs, fill knowledge gaps and define where more external support is needed.  

At international level it can raise the profile of adaptation and help developing countries to attract finance for implementation.

IIED researcher Illari Aragon explained: “For countries who choose to include an adaptation communication in their NDC, applying the adaptation communication guidance could foster more consistent and complete information and facilitates reporting on adaptation progress.” 

The briefing goes into detail on the benefits of considering the guidance when drafting an NDC, and supports it with evidence from Malawi, which has drafted a more robust NDC, with enhanced mitigation and adaptation components accompanied by a cross-sectoral implementation plan and a monitoring, reporting and verification framework.