NDCs: an opportunity to prioritise flood resilience in national plans

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

To increase efforts to respond to increasing risk it is vital to ensure that flood resilience building is central to national governments efforts to tackle the climate crisis. The UNFCCC mandated five year action plans that document national commitments to climate action the aptly named Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) are a great opportunity to do this. 

What are Nationally Determined Contributions?

The Paris Agreement  requires all parties to document their efforts to combat climate change and achieve the long-term goals of the agreement: limiting global temperature rise and building resilience to climate impacts. These Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) are mandated for each party of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) . All the NDCs that have been submitted can be accessed here

Why are the NDCs so important right now? 

The Paris Agreement objectives will only be met by accelerating climate action. It requires parties to report on their proposed climate actions every five years. The next round of updated NDCs need to be submitted by 2020, at least 9 months in advance of the COP26. 

This provides a narrow window of opportunity until March 2020 to influence the national process for NDC update to ensure that flood resilience is  included. 

Achievement of the NDCs involves action from all aspects of society, not just governments, this provides a unique opportunity for Civil Society to be proactive and share knowledge on how to build flood resilience in the face of escalating climate risk. Especially as the narrow timeframe means many government agencies will be eager for support to meet commitments. 

For effective revision and implementation, the NDC and national development plans, strategies and budgets need to be harmonised. This provides the additional opportunity to use sustainable development levers to influence national planning. It is also an opportunity to capture needs and expectations on finance, technology transfer and capacity building. The NDC process must focus on both the global and national context, it is not one or the other, but both. 

How do we best engage in the NDC process? 

Reach out to responsible ministries; start with national focal points (usually the Environment ministries) to find out their plans. Read the existing NDCs and identify possible points for engagement. Even if the words ‘flood resilience building’ are not mentioned there are often other entry points we can use to engage. Gender and inclusion is often a great way to start a flood resilience discussion with a government ministry, noting that women are often disproportionately impacted by flood events.

Reach out to UN agencies; the UN system will be supporting national stakeholders to review, revise and update their NDC prior to submission. Hence reaching out can be a great way to engage in this process. The first point should be the UNDP office, try to reach staff involved in the NDC support programme. They could advise not only who in the UN system to reach out to, but also on who are their counterparts in government. If this draws a blank then reach out to UN agencies with sectoral responsibilities: UNEP for environmental best practice, UNDRR for DRR.  Don’t forget that people in UN-Energy may also be very good sources of information on the process. 

Explore funds for NDC update; a lot of international public climate financing aims to help increase transparency and access. These funds are likely to be mobilised via World Bank/UNDP offices in country but having intelligence on funding can open doors and allow discussions to start now.

Document best practice; the NDC offers the opportunity to make policy and funding asks better linked to government programmes. By sharing examples of best practice we can ensure that existing initiatives that support the work of government agencies are considered in their adaptation plans. The Flood Resilience Portal Library is a great source of best practice examples. 

Coordinate with allies in country; for example via national climate change coordination groups, to align and influence the messaging for inclusion in the NDC. Also think about how to feed in written submissions, reports and knowledge products to inform the process even when not in the room. It is important to not ignore the Private Sector in each country as they have a dedicated support programme under the UNDP NDC partnership.

Engage with national media; the role of the media can be significant and by cooperating with journalists we can help highlight the NDC process, why it is important and how it should be performed. 

To learn more about the NDC processes and how to engage with it watch this recording from a Flood Resilience Alliance Webinar earlier this autumn. 

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