Each country will approach the development of its NDC implementation plan as appropriate to its national circumstances. However, it is likely that, in each case, this process will include:

  1. gap analysis to identify priority activities
  2. an assessment of resource needs
  3. sequencing of activities
  4. documenting the NDC implementation plan.

This section sets out the process for developing an NDC implementation plan. The Reference Manual can be used to further inform each of these steps. (Download the pdf version of the full report here.)

2.1 Gap analysis

Gap analysis of the current situation in a country involves undertaking a detailed review of the lists of activities within each module (these are found in the Reference Manual) and assessing which activities have already been undertaken, and which could usefully be done; the latter potentially will become part of the NDC implementation plan.

As a minimum, countries should undertake the first activity in each module (review), which involves comparing the existing country policy landscape against any commitments made in the NDC. This will identify new or additional activities that may be required to implement the NDC.

Where countries have already started to implement their NDCs (or wider climate strategies and action plans), the gap analysis can identify which activities are complete and which have yet to be started. In addition, the gap analysis can identify activities which are in progress, or where an activity has already been carried out but could be improved (e.g. if better data are available). The results can be compiled into individual summaries for each module.

The gap analysis can provide a starting point for the ongoing implementation of the NDC, and identify which activities are most relevant and important. Figure 4 provides an example of a gap analysis in relation to the finance module, whereby the status in relation to each activity is shown by the circles (as indicated in the key) and the activities from the module that could be incorporated into an NDC implementation plan are indicated on the right-hand side.

Figure 4. Example of gap analysis on finance
Figure 4. Example of gap analysis on finance

2.2 Resource needs

Having carried out this gap analysis, countries will be in a position to undertake an initial assessment of the resources needed for implementing the activities identified. This includes the finance required, but also staff time, expertise, technology and tools (e.g. emissions-scenario models). It is also advisable to carry out an initial assessment of the expected duration of the different activities, for example distinguishing between those that could be completed in less than a year and those that will be multi-year.

These initial assessments can inform the prioritisation of activities for NDC implementation, helping to identify ‘quick wins’. However, it is likely that a more detailed assessment of the type and scale of resources required, and timings, will be needed once activities have been prioritised (see Section 2.3). This can inform decisions on the funding and other support needed for NDC implementation, for example the extent to which requirements can be met via national budgets (supporting the delivery of ‘unconditional’ targets) or whether additional sources of financing will be needed (e.g. new domestic economic instruments, private sector investment and international support to meet ‘conditional’ targets). If additional sources are needed, governments will need to work with bilateral and multilateral funders to develop terms of reference for specific projects (for further information, see activity 5 of the finance module in the reference manual).

2.3 Sequencing of activities

Countries will need to sequence the various NDC implementation activities identified from the gap analysis, to identify which activities should be started immediately and which can be started in the future. In particular, they should consider if any activities are sequential, or are contingent on others. It should be noted that activities can be sequential and contingent upon each other not only within the modules, but also across modules. These links are highlighted throughout the Reference Manual.

The governance module in the Reference Manual provides an important overall basis for the other modules, and it is therefore likely that many countries will include governance activities in the first stages of their NDC implementation plans. For example, establishing or reinforcing appropriate institutional structures and processes for overall NDC implementation should help to drive forward mitigation, adaptation, finance and MRV activities.

In addition, in order to implement many of the activities in the finance module, it will be important to first prioritise the key mitigation and adaptation actions for NDC implementation, so that targeted funding strategies can be developed for these.

In general, the sequencing of activities in the NDC implementation plan will be informed by:

  • the relative priority of activities, including their alignment with wider national priorities (e.g. employment, economic growth, poverty reduction, food security); it will often make sense to programme higher priority actions ahead of lower priority actions
  • the assessment of resources (see Section 2.2), identifying which activities are feasible within the resources available and when these should be undertaken
  • the scope and timing of the NDC implementation plan overall (see Section 1.2)
  • identification of the ‘precursor’, or ‘critical path’, activities required to enable the achievement of key mitigation and adaptation results; for example, financing NDC actions, integrating NDC implementation into key departments or advancing certain technologies that take time to deliver benefits
  • the need to demonstrate quick wins in order to secure support from key decision-makers or stakeholders.

Countries may need to consult with key stakeholders to understand the priorities in different sectors and across national and subnational levels of government, and to identify activities for which there may already be support and momentum for their implementation. Accordingly, iteration may be required between sector entities, subnational entities and the central coordination unit for NDC implementation; see the governance module in the Reference Manual for more details.

Countries can make this sequencing process more robust and transparent by developing criteria (which could be agreed with stakeholders) on which to base this prioritisation. Not all criteria may be of equal importance, in which case it may be relevant to weight some criteria.

2.4 Documenting the plan

2.4.1 National implementation plan and roadmap

Whatever approach a country takes to NDC implementation – for example, integrating it into existing strategies and plans, delivering it through sectoral action plans, or producing a new work stream – it may be beneficial to have an overarching implementation plan across all the modules in NDC implementation.

The NDC implementation plan should clearly set out actions, timings and responsibilities. It can then act as a programme management tool for NDC implementation, allowing the central coordination team to track progress on the actions against the suggested timings. In addition, the plan should make clear links to the vision of what the government aims to achieve, as set out in its NDC, not only over the implementation period but also the longer term.

It is critical to note that involving stakeholders closely in the process of developing the NDC implementation plan will encourage ownership, engagement and buy-in. Consensus will be needed within government, as well as with key external stakeholders. Depending on decisions about the status and publication of the plan (see Section 1.2), it may also be desirable for some elements to be formally approved and/or published.

Lastly, it is likely that the NDC implementation plan will need to be revised over time. For example, a review of the policy enabling environment (e.g. legal, regulatory and institutional landscape), as part of implementing the mitigation module, may identify policy changes needed to deliver key mitigation actions and, hence, new activities or work streams may need to be added to the plan.

2.4.2 Sectoral and subnational action plans

In addition to developing a national NDC implementation plan, it may be useful to develop sectoral action plans to set out clear and detailed instructions for activities in the sector in which they will be implemented. These are likely to cover all aspects of NDC implementation, detailing what needs to happen to deliver mitigation and adaptation outcomes, and possibly MRV, financing and governance arrangements.

The development of sectoral action plans is described in the Reference Manual (see activity 4d in the mitigation module). In summary, the process involves:

  • reviewing strategic priorities for the sector
  • conducting further and more detailed analysis if needed (e.g. more in-depth analysis of mitigation potential and costs)
  • an appraisal of policy options for delivering emissions reductions or adaptation actions
  • a review of risks and barriers, as well as potential mitigating actions.

Overall, sectoral plans should set out the long-term objectives in each sector, how that sector will contribute to national-level implementation of the NDC, and details of the proposed activities, timings and responsibilities. They should build on existing work where available, such as sectoral master plans and strategies and any sector-specific components of development strategies. Case studies from Colombia and Kenya are provided in the Reference Manual.

While many countries have indicated that they will adopt a sectoral approach to implementation, some countries may also want to develop NDC action plans at the subnational (e.g. state or city) level.


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