Local governments are having a say in how their nations revise climate goals ahead of COP26

One of the most unique features of the Paris Agreement is perhaps represented by the preamble paragraph itself: “Recognizing the importance of the engagements of all levels of government and various actors, in accordance with respective national legislations of Parties, in addressing climate change.


However, none of the first national climate plans (formally known as Nationally Determined Contributions – NDCs) fulfill this requirement, since they were all prepared before the Paris Agreement was adopted. Submitting revised NDCs before the upcoming UN Climate Conference (COP26) can enhance national governments’ active collaboration with local and regional governments in delivering national plans and raising their ambitions. 


This is why ICLEI joined forces with NDC Partnership in September 2019 through the Climate Action Enhancement Package (CAEP). Through the CAEP, the NDC Partnership is delivering targeted, fast-track support to countries to enhance the quality, increase the ambition, and implement their NDCs, as part of the 2020 update process ahead of COP26 in Glasgow. The CAEP currently works with more than 50 national governments in the Global South, with more than half of them having reportedly incorporated an engagement element for subnational governments. 


ICLEI takes on a key role in seven of these countries - the Dominican Republic, Peru, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Gambia and Mozambique - by actively engaging at the local and regional level through training of public servants on climate policies, climate assessment and climate reporting and finally by supporting their dialogue with national governments. 


In the Dominican Republic, the ICLEI Mexico, Central America and Caribbean Secretariat successfully trained nine municipalities on climate finance and policies, as well as supporting them through capacity-building initiatives aimed at designing ambitious climate projects. Through such engagements, these local governments are now able to better attract and access financial resources for their low-emission and climate-resilient projects, as well as contributing to the goals of their federal NDC


In Peru, the overarching goal was to strengthen regional capacities to better prepare regional GHG inventories. For this purpose, ICLEI developed a capacity-building series for Peruvian regional governments. In the first virtual meeting, Peruvian Minister of Environment H.E. Gabriel Quijandría notes that engaging local and regional governments has been one of the three most important drivers to raise the ambition of his country’s 2nd NDC, via the CAEP. 


The engagements in Africa have been similarly successful. In Zimbabwe, for example, ICLEI Africa led a project aiming to develop a baseline assessment of current climate change risks. Despite the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the project implementation was pivoted and adapted mostly as a result of the strong and historical relations already in place with Chinhoyi University of Technology and other partners, proving once again that building off previous work ensures sustainability and lasting impact. Flexibility and dedication allowed them and ICLEI to make tangible progress in the CAEP, and create a sense of optimism for the next steps. 


ICLEI’s experience in the NDCP CAEP program is further integrated into the COP26 Roadmap of the Local Governments and Municipal Authorities (LGMA) Constituency “Towards Multilevel Action COP”. In 2020 South Korea and Japan also announced their 2050 climate neutrality commitments, building on the ambitions of their local and regional governments. In addition to the NDCP CAEP route, this kind of initiative could also constitute different variations for multilevel NDCs. The Biden Climate Action Summit on 22-23 April and the announcement of the 2nd US ND will increase momentum for “Multilevel NDCs”. This is an incredible opportunity for countries to learn about and most importantly to adopt NDCs that include all levels of government. If all goes well, multilevel and collaborative climate action might well become the new normal for global action against climate change. 


To learn more about regional priorities, challenges, and opportunities for climate action don’t miss the UNFCCC Climate Weeks in Latin America and the Caribbean (11-14 May) and Africa (15-18 June).
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