Capacity building for implementation of nationally determined contributions under the Paris Agreement

The majority of developing countries have indicated capacity building as a condition for implementing their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement. This is in the context of shortfalls in past initiatives on capacity building under different bilateral and multilateral agencies including bodies of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which can be largely attributed to their short-term, ad-hoc, supply-driven, and project-based nature. Article 11 of the Paris Agreement points to a potentially new paradigm for capacity building. Based on a review of literature on past experience, as well as analysis of countries’ capacity building perspectives in the NDCs, this paper attempts to draw lessons for better capacity building for NDC implementation. The paper aims at answering the questions: What are the capacity building needs expressed in the NDCs? Where are the matches and mismatches with past efforts, and what kind of capacity building can address the current needs? We propose a capacity building framework that addresses climate change as a long term problem. We suggest that universities in developing countries should serve as central hubs for a sustainable, institution-based capacity building system, supported by strengthened partnerships and long term financing. Finally, we suggest that, for the next round of NDCs, developing countries should be more explicit and specific in their demands and approaches to capacity building.

Key policy insights

  • The next round of developing countries’ NDCs should be more specific about their capacity building needs and align them better with the financial support system under the Paris Agreement.
  • The capacity building needs identified in the NDCs fall short of learning from previous efforts, including that capacity building must be specific and demand-driven, to ensure country ownership.
  • A new framework for capacity building needs to be established, with: a capacity building mechanism under the UNFCCC, developing country universities as the central hub; strengthened partnerships; and a long term financial support system.
  • This framework should be tailored towards the differences in capacity needs among different groups of developing countries.

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