Mainstreaming the NDC in National Planning Processes

About This Opportunity

NDCs should be country-led and country-driven, so it is important they align with domestic needs and priorities whilst also seeking to reflect the highest possible ambition. Ensuring that the NDC itself is anchored in and informed by national development plans and policies, strategies, and commitments in the country, and is mainstreamed into and reflects sectoral plans, can help to better drive implementation. It might also help promote greater alignment of climate ambitions to national budgeting processes, national KPIs, and reporting and tracking processes. It can also support a more comprehensive technology needs assessment (TNA) process, increasing coherence between the implementation of national plans with national strategies to achieve climate resilient and low emission development. Furthermore, an NDC that is a Whole-of-Government plan owned and understood by all, integrated into wider national plans, and cascaded vertically and horizontally, can better enable effective implementation and engagement at all levels.

The following strategies could help to implement this Opportunity:

Aligning the NDC with national planning processes:

NDCs are ideally undertaken as a continual process and should also not add extensive additional burden to stakeholders. Identifying opportunities to align the NDC with national planning processes can help to maximize synergies, including between analytical work underpinning different documents, actions and strategies contained within them, and visions and goals. Embedding the NDC within national planning documents can also help to take forward commitments nationally across government decisions.

Developing a common vision:

Mainstreaming climate and development goals across government could be facilitated through the development and articulation of shared long-term visions and strategies. This can, for example, provide a clear framework with goals and a roadmap, around which other plans and strategies can be aligned, actions identified, and targets and indicators set. Existing visions and strategies (such as those in national development plans) could be updated to align with climate goals, or new visions and strategies developed, through stakeholder processes. Long-Term Strategies (LTS/LT-LEDs) also provide an opportunity for developing and aligning visions across All-of-Government as well as with non-Party stakeholders. See also “Opportunity: Aligning the NDC with LT-LEDS and Net Zero Goals.”

Forming working groups to aid coordination and mainstreaming:

Establishing groups to help oversee integration and mainstreaming processes, can help to utilize knowledge and skills from across government, ensure effective consultation, engagement, and input, and provide a consistent approach to integrating the NDC and wider planning processes across government. This is particularly useful given the many crosscutting issues relating to NDCs, and especially where countries do not have ministries of planning or similar, or where plans are taken forward at a sector level, for example. In this instance, a Whole-of-Government approach might require extra coordination. See also “Opportunity: Ensuring Effective Coordination Across Government.”

Integrating climate into budget cycles:

Aligning and integrating the NDC with national budgeting, and budget cycles – not as a separate climate budget, but as part of a normal budgeting process – may help in leveraging finance for activities, ensure implementation, ensure monitoring of impact and course correction if necessary. Thiscan also help to drive the mainstreaming of climate action across government. Medium-term expenditure frameworks or other budgeting processes could be utilized to systematically link strategic climate objectives and related outputs and outcomes with actions required to achieve them across ministries. A Climate Public Expenditure and Institutional Review (CPEIR) can be used as a diagnostic tool to assess opportunities and constraints for integrating climate change concerns within the national and sub-national budget allocation and expenditure process. See also “Opportunity: Assessing Sources of Climate Finance.”

Utilizing existing strategies and planning instruments for NDC implementation:

Successful implementation of an NDC requires harmonization of national strategies to ensure they are working in tandem to meet the NDC objectives. Countries with an existing implementation plan could use that as a starting point for their investment planning, and their NDC 3.0. Those that do not, could develop them in tandem to ensure alignment with wider objectives.

Supporting synergies between NDCs and other national instruments:

This includes National Adaptation Plans (See also: “Opportunity: Improving Interlinkages Between NDCs and NAPs”), Long-Term Strategies (LTSs/LT-LEDs) (See: “Opportunity: Aligning the NDC with LT-LEDS and Net Zero Goals”), and National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAP), through, for example, ensuring that national policy planning processes are integrated in the development of sectoral strategies, prioritizing and pooling financial resources for policy measures such as nature-based solutions that can contribute to both climate and biodiversity objectives, and ensuring greater representation and resources for Indigenous Peoples and local communities to act on climate change and biodiversity through holistic approaches.

Using SDGs in a ‘development first’ approach, to bring together climate mitigation, adaptation and development agendas:

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can help shape national development agendas that NDCs and other plans such as NAPs and LT-LEDS can support. SDGs can provide a framework or reference point for guiding approaches to climate mitigation and adaptation. SDGs can help identify priority goals, set nationally relevant targets, and integrate them into national development plans and strategies. Whilst there is a need to ensure that indicators chosen for tracking progress are achievable in scope and number, SDGs and a ‘development first’ approach can help to support the prioritization of sectors, geographies, communities, and goals that the NDC process could then strengthen.

Mainstreaming into sectoral planning:

NDC processes can facilitate engagement and coordination with sector stakeholders, to ensure reflection of sector priorities and plans, and to flow down climate-related goals and priorities. To support effective implementation, consistent actions and scaled-down targets can drive accountability and ownership and present a more robust and consistent policy message, important for channeling finance and investment. Rigorous engagement with sector leads, technical working groups, and consultation processes can help to support this alignment. For example, aligning with the ministry responsible for education can help to anchor skills development in the NDC, and encourage reference to skills development that will support NDC implementation in respective education and labor market policies.

Using the NDC as a vehicle to formalize climate goals and actions within government:

The NDC could be used as a driver for the establishment of more formal decrees or regulations, to cascade down priorities and actions to sectors and ministries, which can also help to ensure effective and joined-up action, and reporting and tracking. Policy and regulatory frameworks could be added or strengthened at all government levels, to aid the mainstreaming of climate goals and implementation. This might include climate change laws (e.g. enshrining targets, carbon budgets), new taxation regulations, carbon pricing, environmental protection measures (such as for forestry or ecosystems), new standards (such as for buildings or fuels), or sectoral targets (such as for renewable energy). Climate Change Laws of the World provides a useful repository of climate policies and laws by country.

Country Examples

Ethiopia has aligned the NAP and NDC at sector level.Alignment is at the core of Ethiopia´s climate effort. The country is aligning its NAP process with its NDC and development agenda through a sectoral Climate Resilience Strategy and Ethiopia’s 10-year Perspective Development Plan (2021-2030). Ethiopia is planning to increase adaptation action in its NDC through 1) updating and adding information on trends, impacts, and vulnerabilities, 2) updating and adding current and near-term planning and actions, 3) updating and adding monitoring, evaluation, and learning plans, 4) updating and adding information on national long-term goals or vision, and 5) updating and adding information on gaps and barriers.

(Source: “Raising Adaptation Action Through Aligning Naps and NDCs in African LDCs”, Global Support Program)

The Seychelles has integrated the NDC objectives into the National Development Strategy (NDS). In the Seychelles, an exercise was undertaken to mainstream priority climate adaptation and mitigation objectives outlined in the NDC within the NDS (2024-2028) with the aim of ensuring that investment decisions are consistent with the outcomes expected in the NDC. The NDS outlines and maps the linkages between the NDC objectives and the priority areas of Government for the duration of 2024-2028. These priority areas are: i. A Modern Public Service ii. Transformative Economic Agenda iii. A Healthy Nation iv. Law and Order v. A Modern Education Systems aligned with Future Needs vi. Environmental Sustainability and Climate Change Resilience. For example, under ‘A Modern Public Service’ NDS priority area, is the NDC objectives “Investing in local skills development, professional development and peer to peer support networks to assist in mainstreaming climate change mitigation and adaptation considerations into key economic sectors; Make climate change part of human resource planning and development in order to effectively respond to climate change impacts and protect the most vulnerable population in society; Build capacity to implement and monitor climate change actions in sectoral plans and strategies. The key NDC-NDS actions identified are: “Training of public servants to foster an understanding of climate change” and “Adopting a strategic foresight framework for climate action at the national level will support the Government’s efforts to meet NDC targets in the short run while also building long run resilience to the impacts of climate change”.

(Source: “Seychelles National Development Strategy”, Ministry of Finance, National Planning & Trade)

Further Resources

The following guidance and tools can provide further support for integrating and mainstreaming other plans and strategies with NDCs:

Using NDCs, NAPs, and the SDGs to Advance Climate-Resilient Development (the NDC Partnership, undated)
Part of an expert perspective series that invites internationally recognized experts to explore key issues countries face as they implement their NDCs.

NDC-NAP Alignment (NAP Global Network)
A set of briefings on alignment to advance climate-resilient development. These include briefs on ‘getting started’ on alignment, and country perspectives on aligning NAPs and NDCs.

Breaking Silos: Enhancing Synergies between NDCs and NBSAPs (WWF, 2023)
This report sets out how national governments can strengthen synergies between their national climate plans (NDCs) and national biodiversity strategies (NBSAPs). The report identifies several entry points to ensure that policy planning and implementation processes work together to deliver for climate, nature, and people.

Connecting the Dots: Elements for a Joined-Up Implementation of the 2030 Agenda and Paris Agreement (WRI, 2018)
This paper provides core elements and concrete examples for jointly advancing these agendas, with a focus on five challenges: coordinating institutions, ensuring alignment and synergy of SDG and NDC targets, mainstreaming both sets of goals into policy planning, optimizing financial resources, and building mutually reinforcing monitoring and reporting frameworks. The research also explores how international development can better support national efforts at linking both agendas.

NDC-SDG connections (German Institute of Development and Sustainability (IDOS) and Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI))
The NDC-SDG Connections tool analyses connections between climate change and the Sustainable Development Goals, with the aim of enabling more effective and ambitious national action to implement the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement. By visualizing connections between the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement this initiative supports efforts to maximize synergies and minimize trade-offs between climate change and sustainable development, for coherent implementation.

Aligning NDCs with green recovery: Guidance framework (UNDP, 2022)
This resource provides a comprehensive framework for integrating NDCs with COVID-19 green recovery efforts. It outlines a systematic process for countries to design and assess green recovery options that build on NDC processes and incorporate climate action, including securing political support, financing, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation. The framework is aimed at ensuring that recovery efforts contribute to the transition to green and resilient economies while supporting climate goals under the Paris Agreement.

Guidelines for Voluntary Subnational Reviews (UCLG, 2021)
This publication provides guidelines for those Local and Regional Government Associations (LRGAs) that are willing to embark on the project of developing their own Voluntary Subnational Reviews (VSRs) in a way that serves as input for their national voluntary national reviews (VNRs), with the aim of helping to strengthen the localization of the SDGs. It provides the tools necessary to further enhance the potential of VSRs as instruments with which to increase LRG ownership of the 2030 Agenda and other global commitments and to strengthen multi-level and multi-stakeholder dialogue. The Guidelines are meant to be flexible so that each LRGA can adapt them to its own needs, objectives, resources, and capabilities.

Impacts of Climate Framework Laws: Lessons from Germany, Ireland and New Zealand (Grantham Research Institute, 2024)
This report and accompanying technical annex analyses the impact of climate framework laws in three countries, Germany, Ireland, and New Zealand. The report covers impacts on climate governance; political debate; climate policies; citizens and stakeholders; and society and climate. An overarching analysis of how climate laws have impact and the types of impact they produce is accompanied by policy recommendations for legislators, policymakers, businesses and civil society groups.

Climate Change Laws of the World (Grantham Research Institute, 2024)
Climate Change Laws of the World covers national-level climate change legislation and policies globally. The database covers climate and climate-related laws, as well as laws and policies promoting low carbon transitions, which reflects the relevance of climate policy in areas including energy, transport, land use, and climate resilience. It can be used to find examples of laws, policies, and other processes to guide and inspire.

Climate Investment Planning and Mobilization Framework (NDC Partnership & GCF, 2023)
Developed jointly by the NDC Partnership and GCF, which builds on their previous NDC Investment Planning Guide and Best Practice Brief providing step-by-step guidance and a non-prescriptive menu of options that countries can consider, leveraging concrete experiences of countries adopting successful strategies.

Strengthening the Role of Ministries of Finance in Driving Climate Action (Coalition of Finance Ministers for Climate Action, 2023)
This resource provides a framework and guide for the engagement of Ministries of Finance in Climate Action, building on support provided through the NDC Partnership and the Coalition of Finance Ministers for Climate Action (CFMCA), specifically focusing on the key role of Ministries of Finance in the design, update, and implementation of NDCs and LT-LEDS. This builds on our long-standing collaboration with CFMCA, including the elaboration of the first and second reports exploring the role of Ministries of Finance in NDCs.

Climate Public Expenditure and Institutional Review (CPEIR) (UNDP, 2015)
Developed by UNDP, this Methodological Guidebook seeks to equip practitioners with information on a systematic process, methodologies, and tools to conduct a CPEIR. A CPEIR is a diagnostic tool to assess opportunities and constraints for integrating climate change concerns within the national and sub-national budget allocation and expenditure process.

How to Make the Management of Public Finances Climate Sensitive—“Green PFM” (IMF, 2022)
This How to Note provides a “green public financial management (PFM)” framework and illustrates how climate change and environmental concerns can be mainstreamed into the Government’s institutional arrangements in place, to facilitate the implementation of fiscal policies. 

How This Links to Other Routes

Integrating and mainstreaming the NDC in national planning processes has particularly important linkages to the following Routes. Navigate to these to read more:

Route: Aligned to the Paris Agreement Temperature Goal

Supporting the embedding and accountability of mitigation targets and actions across government plans and into sectors, including development of sectoral targets can help to raise ambition.

Route: Aligned to Paris Agreement Global Goal on Adaptation

Key synergies between NAPs and NDCs are important to leverage to ensure coherent strategies, and to help ensure environmental and ecological integrity.

Route: Unlocks Finance

Mainstreaming the NDC across government and into development plans ensures consistency and coherence of national priorities, and when also mainstreamed into budgeting processes, can help unlock finance.

Route: Technically Sound and Transparent Documents

An integrated and mainstreamed approach can facilitate better tracking and reporting of actions, when targets and actions are consistent and embedded into existing reporting structures and processes.

Support Opportunities

Support is available to countries to apply the learning from the navigator and develop ambitious NDCs 3.0.

Share Additional Resources

Contribute new guidance, tools and strategies to be reflected in the NDC 3.0.