In the context of NDC implementation, MRV refers to the process by which countries track and report on the implementation and impacts of mitigation and adaptation actions, and the finance used to support these actions. These three core elements – mitigation, adaptation and finance 85 – can be elements of one integrated, national MRV system, or separate MRV systems. Table 2 lists the MRV systems needed to track NDC implementation under each of these elements.

Table 2. National MRV systems for tracking NDC implementation

MRV system Relevance to NDC implementation
  • Assess current progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions towards the overall target (by reviewing the greenhouse gas inventory), and expected future emissions (by reviewing greenhouse gas projections), at national and sectoral levels, to understand the aggregate impact of mitigation actions now and in the future.
  • Undertake M&E 86 to track the implementation and assess the impacts of individual mitigation actions, to ensure actions are contributing to NDC commitments and capture lessons learned on which policies work best (and why) to inform the design of future policies.
  • M&E to track implementation and assess the effectiveness of adaptation actions taken, to inform regular updates of the National Adaptation Plans.
  • Integrate lessons learned into subsequent actions of the National Adaptation Plan process. 87
  • Track climate finance flows for NDC implementation, including international public finance, national domestic budgets and private climate finance, to improve the overall transparency of climate finance flows, and assess whether the scale/type of financing requirements for NDC implementation are being addressed.

Given the overlaps between the SDGs and climate change action, the MRV systems used for NDC implementation can potentially be used to track SDG implementation as well, especially the goals related to mitigation, adaptation and finance. 88  They could also be used to track the gendered impact of climate actions and the effectiveness of gender mainstreaming initiatives.

Figure 7. Key activities in the MRV module
Reference Manual Figure 7. Key activities in the MRV module

Tracking and reporting progress on NDC implementation is needed to meet countries’ international reporting requirements, as well as to meet domestic requirements. These could include reports to parliament and the public to improve transparency, and to policy-makers to inform decisions to update or complement existing mitigation or adaptation actions. MRV systems for NDC implementation can build on existing MRV systems, as summarised in Table 3.

Figure 8. Reporting for domestic and international audiences
Reference Manual Figure 8. Reporting for domestic and international audiences

Note: Annex I Parties include the industrialised countries that were members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in 1992, plus countries with economies in transition. Non-Annex I Parties are mostly developing countries. 89

Table 3. Existing MRV systems for tracking NDC implementation

Sector Existing MRV systems
  • Developing countries are likely to have an MRV system for reporting on national greenhouse emissions (greenhouse gas inventory) for their Biennial Update Report. In addition, countries may report on the implementation and impacts of mitigation actions as part of Biennial Update Reports reporting. These data collection and reporting systems are likely to provide the foundation for mitigation MRV for NDC implementation.
  • Potential enhancements may be required, depending on the scope and type of mitigation contribution included in the NDC. For example:
    • where the NDC includes an emission-intensity mitigation contribution in relation to GDP, then GDP data will be needed
    • Where the NDC specifies a mitigation outcome relative to a dynamic business-as-usual baseline, data on the drivers of these projections will be required (e.g. population, GDP).
    • More information on assessing progress towards mitigation goals can be found in the WRI’s Greenhouse Gas Protocol Mitigation Goal Standard. 90
  • Countries may already have an MRV system for reporting on the implementation and impacts of adaptation actions for their National Communications, or as part of implementing the UNFCCC National Adaptation Plan process technical guidelines (there is no requirement to report on adaptation actions in the Biennial Update Reports).
  • The Paris Agreement sets a requirement for periodic Adaptation Communications in conjunction with other key reports.
  • Hence, for countries that included an adaptation component in their NDC, these existing systems are likely to provide the foundation for adaptation MRV for NDC implementation, with potential enhancements required depending on the scope of the adaptation contributions in the NDC.
  • Countries may already have in place an MRV system for reporting on support received for their Biennial Update Report. Hence, for countries whose NDCs are conditional upon the receipt of international support, there may be existing systems which can provide the foundation for a finance MRV system for NDC implementation.

When reviewing this module, countries may find it useful to refer to the mitigation and adaptation modules, to consider what indicators might be appropriate to track the implementation and effectiveness of mitigation and adaptation actions, the finance module with regards to tracking finance flows and the governance module with regards to the institutional structures and processes for robust national MRV but also how MRV outputs can be used to inform decision-making and increase buy-in for climate action.

Box 7. MRV and the Paris Agreement

“In order to build mutual trust and confidence and to promote effective implementation, an enhanced transparency framework for action and support, with built-in flexibility which takes into account Parties’ different capacities and builds upon collective experience, is hereby established.” – Article 13.1

References to MRV are interwoven throughout the Paris Agreement, but are primarily found in Articles 13 and 14. 91  The framework mentioned in Article 13.1 will help track mitigation and adaptation actions (Articles 13.5 and 13.6) and will have flexibility for certain parties (Article 13.2). The framework has yet to be decided, but will build on and enhance the existing transparency arrangements under the UNFCCC, such as National Communications, Biennial Update Reports and International Consultation and Analysis (Article 13.3), as well as introducing a new requirement to report on adaptation communications.

The new transparency framework will inform the global stocktake (Article 14), which will be used to assess global progress against the goals of limiting warming to 2°C or, more ambitiously, 1.5°C, and the state of adaptation efforts. The Capacity Building Initiative for Transparency is established (Decision P.85) to support developing countries with meeting the enhanced transparency requirements under Article 13.

Key activity 1: Review current MRV activities

1a. Review the NDC

  • Identify the areas for which MRV is required, based on your NDC: mitigation, adaptation, climate finance, SDGs or any important co-benefits of climate actions (e.g. energy access, job creation).
  • The MRV system can be designed in a stepwise way, with some elements becoming operational in later years.
  • Review whether the NDC already stipulates any specific MRV approaches and/or roles.
  • Consider the data needs to allow for this.

1b. Review existing national MRV processes

  • Review recent Biennial Update Reports and/or National Communication submissions, identifying how data (e.g. mitigation, adaptation, climate finance) were generated for these reports, the frequency of data collection and who is involved (e.g. statistical offices, sectoral ministries and their affiliated institutions).

Key activity 2: Establish institutional arrangements for the oversight and coordination of MRV activities

See activity 3 in the governance module for additional content on institutional arrangements.

2a. Set up an MRV steering group

  • The role of this group is to oversee the stepwise design and implementation of the national MRV system for adaptation, mitigation and climate finance. This could be a sub-group to a wider NDC implementation steering group.
  • Align the group’s work plan with the five-year NDC cycle (see the introduction to the Quick-Start Guide for more details) so that data can be collected to track progress towards NDC goals and inform future policy decisions (e.g. the introduction of new policies and changes to existing policies).

2b. Agree an overall lead institution for the MRV system

  • This institution should have capabilities across adaptation and mitigation.
  • It will be responsible for the overall set-up and coordination of the MRV system and receive guidance from the steering group.

2c. Develop appropriate rules and guidance

  • Put in place appropriate rules on data sharing, stating which data will be shared, by whom and how often between government ministries, departments and agencies. This could be set out in legislation (see activity 6 under the governance module) or as a memorandum of understanding between data-sharing parties. This should apply to all parties that hold relevant data, including non-government actors (e.g. academia).
  • Develop and publish MRV-related technical guidance as necessary for policy teams, within government and any other stakeholders likely to be involved in the MRV system. As a minimum, this guidance will need to follow any rules and procedures agreed at the international level.

2d. Develop plans for reporting

  • Develop a plan for reporting, considering the intended audience, what data are needed, and the format, frequency and responsibilities. As a minimum, this will need to meet current UNFCCC reporting requirements, and any other reporting arrangements that are agreed for the new transparency regime under the Paris Agreement. It should also consider other audiences and their needs, particularly domestic audiences (e.g. public reports, reports to parliament).
  • Establish how actions at the subnational level will be captured and reported at the national level.

Key activity 3: Assess data gaps and needs

3a. Assess and prioritise data gaps

  • Identify the scope of data required across mitigation, adaptation, finance and other areas to track NDC implementation. As part of this process, it may be useful to reflect on the overall international MRV requirements for climate change, in order to set out what data are needed and by when.
  • It may be useful to consider MRV requirements for SDG reporting, for example the incorporation of gender-specific benchmarks and indicators to track gender equity within climate change actions.
  • Having mapped existing national processes (see activity 1 within this module), consider potential data gaps, for example, data which are not yet collected, not available, not in the right format or frequency, or not of the required quality.
  • Prioritise addressing these data gaps, based on their relative importance for domestic and international reporting.

3b. Identify how existing MRV systems can be extended to address data gaps

  • Consider how existing data flows, responsibilities and processes might be adjusted and extended to build a system which can collect the required data for tracking NDC implementation.
  • This could include exploring complementary MRV systems for both NDC and SDG implementation, and considering options for integrating gender considerations into the MRV system (e.g. gender-specific benchmarks and indicators to assess the effectiveness of gender mainstreaming initiatives).
  • Following the stepwise approach described in activity 1a, consider how any existing MRV systems can be complemented and refined over time.


Key activity 4: Design the MRV system for mitigation, adaptation and finance

Key activity 5: Establish data management processes

5a. Develop systems to improve data quality

  • This can include a number of approaches, from the robust independent verification of data, to internal data audits and quality checks, and consultation with stakeholders.

5b. Develop data management systems

  • There should be clear and transparent archiving of data. Consider making online data systems accessible to all or to certain individuals through password-controlled access.

5c. Address data gaps

  • These could, at least in the short term, be filled by using generic factors or international benchmarks, until the data can be improved.

5d. Develop data improvement plans

  • Develop plans for improving data sets as necessary, with suggested responsibilities, timings and resource requirements. This could be part of the wider NDC implementation plan or a stand-alone plan.

Key activity 6: Build MRV capacity

  • Assess capacity-building needs for the design and implementation of each element. Capacities of subnational and local governments should be enhanced to coordinate cohesive tracking of development plans linked to the SDGs and NDC.
  • The following areas might require capacity-building support, both within the central MRV team and across stakeholders involved in the implementation of the MRV system:
    • compiling and improving the national greenhouse inventory, and understanding IPCC guidelines
    • M&E of the impacts of mitigation and adaptation actions, and their developmental co-benefits
    • MRV of climate finance
    • data management issues, including robust quality assurance and archiving
    • reporting to the UNFCCC, in particular keeping abreast of guidance being developed by the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement
    • the ability to draft memoranda of understanding, legal requirements and other mechanisms that ensure the provision of relevant, long-term data
    • the translation of technical data into messages for policy-makers; see the governance module for more information.

Key activity 7: Improve the MRV system over time

7a. Ensure MRV reports are relevant

  • Establish a mechanism to ensure that the outputs from the MRV systems can inform regular updates of the mitigation, adaptation and climate finance planning processes, and lessons learned can be integrated into subsequent actions within the implementation of the NDC.

7b. Consider options for continuous improvement

  • Evaluate the effectiveness of the MRV system in collating and reporting relevant data, and adjust the implementation plan and the systems according to any lessons learned.
  • Engage with stakeholders to seek feedback on the working and effectiveness of the MRV system.
  • Work with countries with similar NDC targets and MRV needs to share lessons learned and best practice.


Learning from others

Case study 20. South Africa: an integrated M&E and MRV system

South Africa has developed a comprehensive MRV system for climate change that is integrated into national M&E processes and meets international MRV requirements. Its aim is to track progress in South Africa’s transition to a low-carbon, climate-resilient economy. The system collates information on mitigation and adaptation actions, greenhouse gas emissions and climate finance in an integrated way, to provide insights into the individual and collective impacts of the measures taken. The system builds upon the National Climate Change Response Database, developed in 2009 to formalise data-reporting mechanisms through technical working groups.

Design elements of the MRV system included the following.

  • An initial review. The system design was based on a thorough review of existing institutional structures, processes and capacities related to M&E and MRV, and incorporated these wherever possible and appropriate.
  • A phased implementation plan. The system will be implemented in three phases over six years. Phase one involved developing a basic set of tiered indicators to track the transition to a low-carbon, climate-resilient economy, and setting up memorandum of understanding with data suppliers, as well as a legal framework to formalise data-collection structures. During phases two and three, the scope and accuracy of data collection will be improved, for example by developing more specific indicators for adaptation (e.g. project-specific) and climate finance (e.g. public money spent).
  • Flexibility to adjust the system. Continuous learning and improvement of the MRV system was an important component; phase three in particular will be devoted to adjusting the system based on lessons learned during the first two phases. 92
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Case study 21. Chile: ensuring comparable MRV approaches for NAMAs

The Government of Chile faced a challenge: how to encourage ministries and agencies to develop their own mitigation actions, while maintaining oversight of the quality and comparability of information provided on the results achieved. Chile met this challenge by setting up a clear, robust national MRV framework for mitigation actions, supported by guidance and reporting templates for all steps. Chilean stakeholders were widely consulted throughout its development, and the framework approach was tested on the MRV of a NAMA under development at that time. 93

The framework covers all sectors of the economy and ensures MRV approaches for individual mitigation actions are developed using a uniform process. In addition, the Office of Climate Change at the Chilean Ministry of Environment is responsible for approving MRV plans. The development of the framework took one year.

Common standards and learning from others: The system is based on the WRI’s Greenhouse Gas Protocol Policy and Action Standard 94 and includes experiences from the MRV approach used in the UK carbon budgets system. 95

Common sectoral assumptions: The system uses common sectoral assumptions to provide comparability with existing projections. It aligns data and emission factors in the national greenhouse gas inventory where feasible, avoids double counting, and encourages annual reporting using standardised reports on implementation and impacts.

This system has proved highly effective. It has increased transparency and comparability, and improved data quality. The reported data provides quality information for political decision-making, as well as inputs for compiling the Biennial Update Report.

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  • 85 For simplicity, we use the term ‘MRV’ here for all three, although for adaptation the term ‘monitoring and evaluation’ (M&E) is more commonly used. It is also sometimes used for mitigation when referring to assessments of the impacts of mitigation policies.
  • 86 Monitoring and evaluation (M&E) often refers to tracking the impacts of mitigation and adaptation actions
  • 87 The UNFCCC National Adaptation Plan process technical guidelines emphasise three elements for the M&E of adaptation: (1) documenting progress in implementation of the process; (2) measuring and communicating the effectiveness of adaptation actions taken; and (3) assessing gaps, including in the evidence base, capacity and plans, so that these can be filled. In the context of tracking the progress of NDC implementation, the second of these will be the most important.
  • 88 See these modules in this reference manual, and Appendix 2 in the Quick-Start Guide, for more details.
  • 89 More details can be found at: UNFCCC (2014) ‘Parties & observers’. Bonn: United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. (
  • 90 WRI (2014b) Op. cit.
  • 91 This covers the proposed new transparency framework under the Paris Agreement. Existing international reporting requirements were agreed at COP 16 in Cancún, Mexico, in 2010, where parties agreed to submit National Communications every two years and Biennial Reports or Biennial Update Reports every two years. See: International Partnership on Mitigation and MRV (no date) ‘Measuring, reporting and verification (MRV)’. Bonn: International Partnership on Mitigation and MRV. (
  • 92 International Partnership on Mitigation and MRV (no date) ‘An integrated MRV system in South Africa’. Bonn: International Partnership on Mitigation and MRV. (
  • 93 Wartmann, S., Harries, J., Salas, R. and Petrarulo, L. (2015) Directrices para un Marco General de MRV de NAMAs en Chile. Didcot: Didcot: Ricardo Energy & Environment. (
  • 94 WRI (2014a) Op. cit.
  • 95 CCC (no date) ‘Carbon Budgets and targets’. London: Committee on Climate Change. (