Achieving NDC commitments will involve ongoing effort, coordination and engagement across governments to implement the activities contained in the NDC implementation plan. The majority of implementation activities are likely to be undertaken at the sectoral and subnational level, and many actions will need to be delivered by non-state actors. Consequently, a number of cross-cutting issues should be considered: the coordination of climate actions; capacity-building; stakeholder engagement; and updating the NDC. (Download the pdf version of the full report here.)

3.1 Coordinating climate actions

An ongoing coordination process will be needed to drive progress and decision-making, and ensure accountability. A dedicated central coordination team will be needed for this (see activity 2 of the governance module in the Reference Manual). The team can use support materials such as:

  • the overarching NDC implementation plan to track the progress of actions
  • the work streams that align to the individual modules of NDC implementation, or to the individual sectors; these group together connected activities under a single responsible owner to maximise synergies between activities (see activity 3 of the governance module in the Reference Manual)
  • a climate investment plan that sets out the programme of investment and support needed to implement the NDC (see activity 6 of the finance module in the Reference Manual)
  • a capacity-building plan, which sets out the range of capacities that need to be developed in the medium term, and maintained in the long term, to support NDC implementation. 17

The climate investment plan and capacity-building plan could be stand-alone documents, or could be included in the overall NDC implementation plan. But, as noted in Section 1.2.3, even stand-alone documents should align closely and link with other relevant documents.

The governance module in the Reference Manual provides a list of additional activities that could be considered under coordinating climate actions. These include agreeing cooperation approaches between key departments, putting in place plans for periodically reviewing ambitions, and allocating resources for NDC implementation (see activity 3 of the governance module in the Reference Manual).

3.2 Capacity-building

For most countries, additional capacity will need to be built in a range of areas to support NDC implementation. In this context, capacity means having the financial and human resources needed, together with the ability to apply skills, knowledge and tools and the willingness to deliver change. Capacity applies in a number of different aspects, including: (1) institutional capacity for governance and coordination; (2) technical capacity to carry out modelling and evaluation, including sectoral expertise; (3) relational capacity to build partnerships and invest time in processes; and (4) strategic capacity for systemic policy design and implementation. 18  While all four aspects apply in their own right, enabling relevant actors to develop all of them together, tailored to their specific country context, is likely to lead to a self-sustaining system.

Most countries will have some level of capacity in place; the process of NDC implementation should look to complement this and address gaps as required. Even where external support is needed initially, countries should look to include a balanced mix of all four aspects of capacity-building in all technical assistance, so that every piece of work carried out contributes to building and strengthening a self-sustaining, autonomous system in the country. Countries may benefit from an initial comprehensive review of capacity requirements and the subsequent development of a capacity-building plan, which could be integrated into the wider NDC implementation plan.

Any capacity-building plans should be developed following the UNFCCC Capacity Building Frameworks. 19  These set out the guiding principles to be followed, such as capacity-building being country-driven, involving learning by doing, and being supported by existing national institutions. In addition, the Paris Agreement established the Paris Committee on Capacity Building, which will identify capacity needs and gaps, and help facilitate global cooperation on capacity-building initiatives and ideas. Countries can engage with this process to help steer their capacity-building efforts in a strategic and synergistic manner. Capacity-building also encompasses civil society and countries should consider the UNFCCC’s Action for Climate Empowerment agenda, which focuses on education, public awareness and access to data.

Examples of the kinds of activities that may be relevant for capacity-building plans include the following.

  • Capacity needs assessments analyse country and stakeholder capacity-building requirements in order to develop actionable interventions and strategies. These can be submitted to the Paris Committee on Capacity Building; they also provide the basis for discussions with technical assistance providers and funders.
  • Capacity development strategies ensure that interventions are designed to develop institutional, technical, relational and strategic capacities to meet immediate and long-term capacity-building objectives.
  • Training courses should be aligned with the overall training strategy and be suitable for their audience.
  • A national programme of climate change education (e.g. inclusion in school curricula) can strengthen public awareness.
  • Learning exchanges between countries are an opportunity to share insights and emerging practices, and explore common challenges and questions on NDC implementation.
  • Stakeholder workshops can provide updates on global changes in legislation, policies and tools, for example to ensure that government officials are kept abreast of latest best practices, guidance and approaches.
  • Support for policy-makers in effective decision-making can develop the skills and relationships needed to drive forward new strategies, policies and climate change actions.
  • Shadowing or secondments can foster knowledge and the exchange of skills, building capacity among different institutions.
  • Other potential capacity-building activities include institutional strengthening and knowledge transfer programmes, ‘train the trainer’ programmes, and coaching and mentoring during on-the-job learning.

These activities should be set out in a capacity-building plan with clear responsibilities and timings for when activities will happen. An example of designing a capacity-building plan in Rwanda is provided in the Reference Manual.

Capacity-building will take place at different levels: individual, organisational/ institutional, country and regional/global. In order to ensure that it has a long-term impact, countries should think creatively about how to build capacity at the organisational/institutional level in particular. In some cases, it might make sense to build capacity outside of the government, for example in academic institutions. This is especially important in countries where there are regular enforced job moves within the civil service. Governments can also consider institutionalising capacity-building efforts to ensure that civil servants have the appropriate skills.

The Reference Manual provides further information on capacity-building for NDC implementation, setting out the specific capacities needed to implement each module. An archive of individual capacity-building activities can be found at the UNFCCC’s Capacity Building Portal. 20

3.3 Stakeholder engagement

Throughout the NDC implementation planning process, it will be necessary to engage stakeholders. Gaining consensus on an NDC implementation plan through stakeholder engagement, within government and with external stakeholders, will be critical to the successful delivery of NDC implementation plans. Despite the urge to push ahead with NDC implementation, the importance of full, measured and comprehensive stakeholder engagement should not be overlooked.

Firstly, it will be important for relevant stakeholders to buy into the Paris Agreement and the first NDC that is being implemented. Most countries carried out some form of stakeholder consultation during the development of their INDCs. The most extensive engagements covered key sector ministries (e.g. agriculture, energy, transport, industry, finance) and different groups of civil society (e.g. private sector, academic institutes, NGOs, civilians). The scope and effectiveness of these engagements varied, and in many cases they were limited due to the tight timetable for preparing INDCs in advance of COP 21. However, they provide a useful platform on which to build, in order to engage with key stakeholders and/or the public. Some countries have already used the same stakeholder groupings to raise awareness of the outcomes of COP 21 and to strengthen support and buy-in for the NDC and the implementation activities that will follow. 21

Given the broad range of actors from government, the private sector and civil society that are likely to be involved in NDC implementation, we recommend that appropriate stakeholder engagement processes are included in all NDC implementation planning activities. The exact structure and scope of engagement will depend on the circumstances of each country, but all countries should adopt an inclusive approach so that all relevant constituencies and actors are involved, including subnational and city authorities.

There are a number of ways this ‘socialisation’ can be carried out, including national stakeholder workshops, online consultations and regional engagement. Wider public socialisation approaches could include using social media, traditional media and appropriate interventions targeted at specific communities and groups. More details on stakeholder engagement in the context of NDC implementation can be found in the Reference Manual (see activities 3 and 5 in the governance module, and case studies from The Gambia, Pakistan and Laos).

3.4 Updating the NDC

A final but central aspect of NDC implementation is updating the NDC itself. As set out in Figure 1, the Paris Agreement provides for the preparation and communication of successive NDCs every five years from 2020, with each being a progression and reflecting the country’s “highest possible ambition”. 22

Having just gone through the preparation, drafting and approval of their INDC, countries are particularly aware of the analytical and technical capabilities required to prepare an NDC, and the resources and time needed for stakeholder engagement and approval processes. Given the short timescale for INDC preparation, it was necessary for many countries to seek technical support from external experts and international sources. However, by the 2020 deadline for communicating their next NDC, it is hoped that countries will have increased their technical capabilities so that much of this analysis can be carried out by national experts.

Given that there are now only a few years until countries are invited to submit their next NDC, and that the activities needed for this may take some time to complete, they should ideally be built into NDC implementation plans. This will ensure that their implementation and progress can be tracked and managed, and that the next set of NDCs are submitted on schedule in 2020.


This Quick-Start Guide sets out the key steps and considerations that a country can take to implement its NDC. The accompanying Reference Manual provides a wealth of further information that can be used to carry out these steps. It is important to remember, though, that NDC stands for Nationally Determined Contribution: NDCs and their implementation will vary from country to country.

That said, there are likely to be common themes between countries, such as the need to ensure high-level political buy-in and leadership, and the importance of integrating NDC implementation into existing economic plans and development processes. There is also a good opportunity for peer-to-peer learning, and for countries to exchange good practice and lessons learned, to mutual benefit. We hope that this guide and the accompanying Reference Manual provide a useful resource as countries work together to build capacity, exchange ideas and implement activities to ensure that the Paris Agreement is a success.


Download the pdf version of the full report here.

  • 17 Note that Article 11.4 of the Paris Agreement states that “developing country Parties should regularly communicate progress made on implementing capacity-building plans, policies, actions or measures to implement this Agreement”. UNFCCC (2015) Op. cit.
  • 18 For more information on typical climate change-related capacity requirements for developing countries, see: UNFCCC (no date) ‘Priority areas for capacity‐building in developing countries, as listed in decision 2/CP.7’. Bonn: United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. (
  • 19 See: UNFCCC (2014) ‘Capacity-building: Frameworks’. Bonn: United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. (
  • 20 See: UNFCCC (no date). ‘Capacity building portal’. Bonn: United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. (
  • 21 For example, Myanmar held a post-Paris stakeholder workshop to share the Paris Agreement with stakeholders and to kick-start discussions on NDC implementation.
  • 22 Note that in 2020, countries whose INDCs contains a time frame up to 2025 are urged to communicate a new one by 2020 and every five years thereafter, while countries whose INDC contains a time frame up to 2030 are requested to communicate or update their contributions by 2020 and to do so thereafter every five years.