Nearly all the world’s governments have prepared and submitted their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), setting out their climate pledges under the 2015 Paris Agreement. These NDCs are to be regularly updated, and many countries are expected to submit a new NDC in 2020. While several studies have assessed the content and potential impacts of the NDCs, this article focusses on the preparatory process and asks the question: under what conditions can countries be expected to develop NDCs that are sufficiently ambitious to contribute to fulfilling the Paris Agreement goals? For some countries, in particular developing nations and emerging economies, the process of preparing and implementing NDCs presents challenges in terms of political support; financial, human and technical resources; and analytical capabilities. With a view to improving future NDCs, this article provides insights from the first round of NDCs. Using results from four surveys carried out in 2015, 2017 and 2018 targeting government representatives and other stakeholders from primarily developing countries and emerging economies, the article finds that the NDC preparation process contributed positively to national climate policy processes. For example, it raised political awareness and preparedness for preparing and implementing climate policies across various ministries and agencies. It also prompted institutional innovation and more coordination between various policy areas. However, more can be done to enhance analytical capacity in order for countries to make commitments based on robust analysis and data. Key policy insights In many countries, the preparation of the NDCs positively contributed to national climate policy processes by raising awareness and catalysing institutional change. The NDC process improved political buy-in across government and non-government stakeholders thereby laying the foundation for future higher NDC and climate policy ambition. A better understanding of broader impacts and the involvement of affected stakeholders in a targeted way could be conducive to reaching the goals defined in the Paris Agreement and support realistic, yet ambitious target setting. Conversely, process-related problems may lead to implementation problems. More analytical, financial and technical resources are needed to implement the first round of NDCs and support countries in preparing future NDC cycles.
Bibliographical noteSpecial issue: Making climate action more effective: lessons learned from the first Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).
- Nationally Determined Contributions
- Paris Agreement