Developing an NDC implementation plan is no different from any other policy-making exercise, and each country will want to develop its own tailored approach. However, it is likely that each country will follow certain steps: preparatory work, developing an NDC implementation plan, and delivery. (Download the pdf version of the full report here.)

There are a number of inputs to the process of implementing NDCs, including the INDC that was prepared and submitted to the UNFCCC, existing climate, development and green growth plans, and other climate-related activities. Figure 2 illustrates these.

Figure 2. The national NDC process
Figure 2. The national NDC process

This guide and the accompanying Reference Manual are practical tools that can support each step in this process (see Box 1). Together, they aim to assist policy-makers in building a picture of the activities they need to undertake, appreciating the synergies and connections among different activities, and better understanding what is needed to kick-start or advance NDC implementation in their country. The Reference Manual includes case studies that provide examples of good practice; both documents highlight where further information is available.

Box 1. The three main steps of national NDC implementation

Step 1: Preparatory work
Countries must submit their first NDC by the time that they ratify the Paris Agreement. They will have the option of updating their INDC before submitting the first NDC. The Reference Manual provides suggested activities that a country may want to complete before they submit their first NDC (e.g. improving the evidence base in certain areas). Preparatory work also includes consideration of key strategic questions, such as the scope, timeframe and status of the NDC implementation plan.

Step 2: Developing the NDC implementation plan
This guide sets out the key activities a country must undertake to develop their NDC implementation plan. These include initial gap analysis, an assessment of resource needs, the prioritisation of activities, and documenting their agreed implementation activities. The Reference Manual can support this process: for example, it contains lists of possible NDC implementation activities, against which countries can compare their current status (gap analysis). The Reference Manual can also help countries to consider the resources they need to fully implement their NDC.

Step 3: Delivering the NDC implementation plan
This is where actions are delivered on the ground, supported by capacity building and stakeholder engagement. The delivery of the NDC implementation plan may also include work to update the NDC in advance of 2020. The Reference Manual can support countries to identify capacity building needs and what types of stakeholder engagement could be beneficial for NDC implementation, as well as what work might be carried out to update the NDC.

Using the Quick-Start Guide to develop and frame the NDC implementation plan

This guide can help countries to frame their NDC implementation plan, and establish the national systems and processes that are needed to support its development and delivery. It sets out the overall NDC implementation process and provides a high-level outline of the steps that countries need to take.

It is structured around the three steps identified above. In practice, these steps may be undertaken iteratively, rather than strictly sequentially. In addition, there will likely be ongoing iteration between direction and guidance provided by the central coordination point for NDC implementation in a country, and ownership and information coming from government ministries and other key actors responsible for NDC implementation (see the governance module in the Reference Manual for more details).

Using the Reference Manual to identify specific activities

The Reference Manual will help countries to identify the detailed activities needed to meet their countries’ NDC commitments and then give consideration to likely priorities, timings, resource requirements and capacity needs for NDC implementation.

These activities are set out in five modules, based on Ricardo Energy & Environment’s NDC implementation framework, 7  summarised in Box 2.

Box 2. The NDC implementation framework

NDC implementation requires coordinated action across five distinct – but intrinsically linked – areas.

  • Governance: good governance maintains momentum in implementing NDCs. This includes: creating an enabling environment for action; driving progress; coordinating activities, processes and structures for decision-making; stakeholder engagement, both inside and outside of government; and maintaining strong political will at the highest levels.
  • Mitigation: long-term mitigation strategies aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through national and sector plans that are aligned with development priorities, and by using the right tools to minimise costs and deliver transformational changes.
  • Adaptation: integrated adaptation planning builds long-term resilience to the impacts of climate change by mainstreaming adaptation into national and sectoral plans, drawing on UNFCCC’s National Adaptation Plan process.
  • Finance: a climate finance framework should match a country’s needs against funding streams, and include strategies to access these.
  • Measuring, reporting and verification: these systems track implementation and apply the lessons learned, thus enhancing analytical capacity and understanding about which policies and actions work best, and why.

Each module follows a common format:

  • an introduction to the module and its key issues
  • a diagram showing the key activities under that module
  • a short explanation of the module in the context of the Paris Agreement
  • a table of detailed activities that countries can take
  • country case studies of how other countries have tackled the activities in each module.

Figure 3 provides an example of the figure included for each module (this one is for the finance module). The activities in the diagrams should be read from bottom to top, as they represent the building blocks of NDC implementation. Each figure shows where there are links with other modules, so that countries can take a holistic and integrated approach.

Figure 3. NDC implementation activities under the finance module
Figure 3. NDC implementation activities under the finance module

The Reference Manual is structured so that it can be applied in its entirety or as individual modules. Please refer to the Reference Manual for more details.


Effective governance involves driving progress, coordinating decision-making processes, ensuring accountability, engaging stakeholders inside and outside of government, and maintaining political will at all levels. Key activities that countries can undertake to strengthen governance arrangements include the following.

  1. Review current institutional arrangements
    1. Review the NDC
    2. Review the existing governance landscape
  2. Establish an NDC implementation coordination team
    1. Identify a central NDC coordination team
    2. Define the team’s roles and responsibilities with regards to NDC implementation
    3. Agree cooperation approaches with key government ministries, departments and agencies
    4. Provide resources and support for NDC implementation
  3. Set up institutional arrangements
    1. Integrate with existing processes
    2. Ensure integration includes wider ministries, agencies and subnational authorities
    3. Ensure effective communication across government
  4. Build capacity within government
    1. Identify the capacity across government that is needed to enable NDC implementation, and develop a programme of ongoing support
    2. Improve institutional memory
  5. Engage external stakeholders
    1. Undertake stakeholder mapping
    2. Agree responsibilities for engagement
    3. Develop a clear stakeholder engagement plan
  6. Develop legal frameworks


While it is recognised that adaptation is a priority for many developing countries, they will also need to show progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 8  Doing so can have wide benefits, as mitigation actions can be designed to deliver not only emissions reductions, but also wider co-benefits in relation to climate change adaptation, development, employment, energy security and public health, for example. Key activities that countries can undertake to strengthen long-term mitigation planning include the following.

  1. Review the current mitigation policy landscape
    1. Review the NDC
    2. Review the existing mitigation policy landscape
  2. Set up institutional arrangements for the coordination and oversight of mitigation activities
  3. Analyse the national mitigation potential to identify priority sectors and mitigation options
    1. Identify key sectors
    2. Analyse mitigation potential and costs across these sectors
    3. Shortlist and prioritise mitigation options
    4. Undertake barriers analysis for each shortlisted option
    5. Model greenhouse gas emissions under a business-as-usual scenario and emissions-reduction scenarios
    6. Allocate national mitigation efforts across sectors
    7. Build capacity and improve the evidence base
  4. Conduct a detailed appraisal of priority actions for key sectors
    1. Review the strategic priorities for each key sector
    2. Carry out further analysis and prioritisation
    3. Appraise policy options
    4. Prepare a mitigation-sector action plan
  5. Design mitigation policies
    1. Design the policy
    2. Agree arrangements for ongoing implementation
  6. Access financing for mitigation actions
  7. Implement mitigation policies
    1. Implementation
    2. Resources and support
    3. Evaluate policies, structures and processes
  8. Design and implement a mitigation MRV system
    1. Design and develop a greenhouse gas inventory
    2. Design a system for the monitoring and evaluation of mitigation actions
    3. Develop projections for greenhouse gas emissions
    4. Develop interim milestones
  9. Prepare for future NDCs


Adaptation is the process of adjusting to the impacts of a changing climate, seeking to moderate or avoid harm, and exploit beneficial opportunities. The adaptation module in the Reference Manual sets out the activities needed to implement the adaptation activities contained in countries’ NDCs, drawing on the UNFCCC’s National Adaptation Plan process, which provides a country-driven, comprehensive approach to adaptation planning and implementation. It includes the following steps.

  1. Review the current adaptation policy landscape
    1. Review the NDC
    2. Review the existing adaptation policy landscape
  2. Undertake groundwork and governance
    1. Apply Element A of the National Adaptation Plan process technical guidelines
    2. Incorporate additional or enhanced activities into the National Adaptation Plan process to make the link with the NDC, as appropriate
  3. Undertake preparatory work for adaptation plans
    1. Apply Element B of the National Adaptation Plan process technical guidelines
    2. Incorporate additional or enhanced activities into the National Adaptation Plan process to make the link with the NDC, as appropriate
  4. Access financing for adaptation actions
  5. Implement policies, projects and programmes
    1. Apply Element C of the National Adaptation Plan process technical guidelines
    2. Incorporate additional or enhanced activities into the National Adaptation Plan process to make the link with the NDC, as appropriate
  6. Monitor and report on progress and the effectiveness of adaptation actions
    1. Apply Element D of the National Adaptation Plan process technical guidelines
    2. Incorporate additional or enhanced activities into the National Adaptation Plan process to make the link with the NDC, as appropriate


Finance is critical for implementing the mitigation and adaptation actions set out in countries’ NDCs. International public financing sources, such as the Green Climate Fund, will not be able to provide the large-scale investment needed alone; financing sources such as the private sector and domestic fiscal budgets will therefore be needed. Key activities that countries can undertake to strengthen financing of their NDC include the following.

  1. Review the climate finance landscape
    1. Review the NDC
    2. Review the current status of climate finance strategies
  2. Establish institutional arrangements for the oversight and coordination of climate finance activities
    1. Identify and delineate key roles on climate finance within the country
    2. Identify a team within government to lead on national climate finance coordination
    3. Mainstream climate change into national budgeting processes
  3. Compile an overall costing for the NDC
    1. Undertake a desk review to identify and cost the main sub-actions within each mitigation and adaptation action
    2. Check desk-based estimates with relevant national experts and stakeholders
  4. Identify funding gaps and needs
    1. Scope and prioritise the actions to be undertaken during NDC implementation
    2. Assess the funding status of each priority NDC action
    3. Identify the level and type of support needed to address each funding gap
  5. Assess public and private financing options
    1. Assess the potential for further domestic fiscal support for each action
    2. Assess the eligibility of each action against bilateral and multilateral funding sources
    3. Assess options for private sector investment for each action
  6. Develop a country climate investment plan
  7. Secure direct access to international climate funds for national and subnational institutions
  8. Develop a project pipeline and financing propositions that can be put forward to different financing sources
    1. Build technical and relational capacities within government ministries to develop a project pipeline
    2. Develop funding proposals that can be shared with bilateral and multilateral funders
    3. Develop funding proposals that can be shared with potential private sector financing sources
  9. Increase private sector engagement and overcome barriers to investment
    1. Assess and enhance the domestic investment environment
    2. Strengthen the capacity of relevant departments to identify and develop financially viable opportunities for the private sector
    3. Increase private sector engagement in national climate policies, strategies, coordinating committees and national financing bodies
  10. Design and implement a climate finance MRV system
    1. Identify climate-related spending across all relevant finance flows
    2. Track and report climate-related spending across all relevant finance flows
    3. Expand and improve the MRV of climate finance

Measuring, reporting and verification

MRV for the implementation of NDCs refers to the process by which countries track and report on the implementation and impacts of mitigation and adaptation actions, 9  and the finance used to support these actions. In this sense, MRV has three core elements: mitigation, adaptation and finance. These can either be the elements of a single integrated national MRV system, or be separate MRV systems. Key activities that countries can undertake to develop MRV systems for their NDC include the following.

  1. Review current MRV activities
    1. Review the NDC
    2. Review existing national MRV processes
  2. Establish institutional arrangements for the oversight and coordination of MRV activities
    1. Set up an MRV steering group
    2. Agree an overall lead institution for the MRV system
    3. Develop appropriate rules and guidance
    4. Develop plans for reporting
  3. Assess data gaps and needs
    1. Assess and prioritise data gaps
    2. Identify how existing MRV systems can be extended to address data gaps
  4. Design the MRV system for mitigation, adaptation and finance
  5. Establish data management processes
    1. Develop systems to improve data quality
    2. Develop data management systems
    3. Address data gaps
    4. Develop data improvement plans
  6. Build MRV capacity
  7. Improve the MRV system over time
    1. Ensure MRV reports are relevant
    2. Consider options for continuous improvement


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