Realizing the vision of the Paris Agreement: How UNDP is helping countries access the finance they need to address climate change

How are climate change and sustainable development interlinked? What are Nationally Determined Contributions? And how is UNDP supporting countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America to meet their climate action commitments, with the support of the Green Climate Fund? Insights from climate finance consultant Alexander Koch who currently supports UNDP in 14 countries.

Firstly, Alexander, what is the role of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in addressing climate change? How is climate change linked to UNDP’s mandate to achieve zero poverty and to reduce inequalities?

It must be said – climate change and sustainable development are closely interlinked. The impacts threaten lives, livelihoods and economies around the world.

We can see the devastating losses sometimes caused by more extreme weather events and sea level rise. But the impacts of rising temperatures and shifting rainfall are also emerging over time.

Unless we act to both mitigate and adapt, the impacts could be catastrophic, particularly for developing countries. Tackling climate change is critical to a sustainable future. 

In this context, helping developing countries address the challenges is a key priority for UNDP. This is reflected in the fact UNDP is now the largest implementing partner on climate action in the UN System, currently supporting over 140 countries with a portfolio of over US$3 billion in programming. Its portfolio leverages billions of dollars of public and private finance.

What are Nationally Determined Contributions and why are they important?

One of the most important tools in the fight against climate change are countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions. A Nationally Determined Contribution – known as an ‘NDC’ – is a pledge made by each country, defining what it will do to help meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.

They are critical because they chart the path for countries’ efforts to take climate action and are formally adopted by their own governments. They represent the first important step to reduce emissions and adapt to impacts of climate change in line with the Paris Agreement goals.

How is UNDP helping countries to realize their Nationally Determined Contributions?

UNDP works directly with countries on preparing to implement their NDCs. An example is UNDP’s work in the context of the Green Climate Fund’s Readiness and Preparatory Support Programme.

As a delivery partner of the programme, UNDP is supporting so-called ‘Nationally Designated Authorities’ in 14 countries – Azerbaijan, Burundi, Cuba, Dominica, Ecuador, Ghana, Haiti, India, Iraq, Lao PDR, Nepal, Palestine, Sudan and Uruguay – to strengthen their country’s capacities to access and manage Green Climate Fund finance.

Among other activities, we work with the countries to map their financial gaps and needs to implement their NDCs, and to facilitate consultations to develop roadmaps for NDC implementation, linked to Green Climate Fund programming. We then help turn these into Green Climate Fund country programmes, in line with NDCs and other key national plans.

Each country programme presents a country’s climate change priorities with the Green Climate Fund, including a pipeline of projects that the country would like to develop.

It also provides an action plan that details how projects and programmes are to be developed, the type of entity to partner with and the readiness and project preparation support that is required.

What are some examples of countries that have successfully designed programmes linked to their NDC?

With UNDP support, the Central African Republic, Uruguay, Lao PDR and Guinea recently completed their Green Climate Fund country programmes, or are about to do so. In all four countries, the programmes were developed fully in line with their NDCs.

Another three country programmes – Timor-Leste, Kazakhstan and Haiti – are currently in advanced stages, and in another four countries – Sudan, the Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People, India and Azerbaijan – UNDP has supported first drafts of country programmes that are currently with the Green Climate Fund for feedback.

These are successes worth highlighting.

Finally, how are countries leading the way and learning from each other?

UNDP sees ‘south-south’ cooperation, or collaboration between developing countries, as an accelerator and multiplier of sustainable development.

We have been supporting the countries to share lessons and best practices. The Central African Republic, Uruguay and Lao PDR recently conducted exchanges with other countries to strengthen their Green Climate Fund-related capacities, and, to varying extents, their country programming processes:

In February 2019, Lao PDR led the way by being the first country to host a joint mission of the Green Climate Fund and Global Environment Facility for a National Dialogue. This joint mission sought to ensure complementarity and coherence of initiatives funded by the two global funds, and to signal joint support for climate action. As part of the National Dialogue, Lao PDR launched their draft Country Programme, Stakeholder Engagement Guidelines and No Objection Procedure. In July, Lao PDR also conducted training in climate finance – including details on Green Climate Fund investment criteria; climate vulnerability assessment and designing adaptation projects; and pointers on writing successful proposals – for the Nationally Designated Authority and participants from across several sectors and government ministries.

The Central African Republic has conducted two exchange missions of its Green Climate Fund government focal team members to Benin and Senegal, to exchange with National Designated Authority teams/governments about their experiences on Green Climate Fund decision-making and direct access to funding, and to enhance south-south cooperation on climate change;

Uruguay has held consultations with Brazil and Chile, with a focus on the development of the national Green Climate Fund coordination mechanism and no-objection procedure.

By strengthening their capacities for Green Climate Fund programming, the countries are preparing themselves for strategic engagement with the fund which can accelerate NDC implementation and help them progress in the fight against climate change.

This is how we have an impact.


Related articles

Government of Uruguay launches new project to boost resilience of cities and reach targets outlined in Paris Agreement’, May 2018

Connecting people with planning in Uruguay’, May 2018

New programme to strengthen Lao PDR’s readiness to cope with impacts of climate change’, November 2017

Lao PDR hosts major global funds in push for a climate-resilient, sustainable future’, May 2019

National Validation of the Central African Republic Country FVC Program’, October 2018

The agricultural sector is a mainstay of the Uruguayan economy, contributing seventy percent of exports and seven percent of Gross Domestic Product. Production is vulnerable to climate change and climate variability, with extreme events such as floods and droughts becoming more intense. To address the challenges, the country has developed an advanced suite of climate change policies, strategies and plans. Photo credit: Angela Rowell/UGA CAES (Flickr Creative Commons)

Central African Republic (CAR) has rich agricultural lands, a favorable climate and significant natural resources, yet it is currently among the least developed countries in the world. As the country strives to develop – facing also the challenges of ongoing conflict – climate change threatens to throw a spanner in the works. Photo credit: UN Photo

Climate change is already affecting the livelihoods, food security, water supply and health of much of Lao PDR”s population. The frequency and intensity of climate related hazards such as droughts and floods are expected to increase in future. Recognizing the challenges, Lao PDR was the first ASEAN country to ratify the Paris Agreement by agreeing on an Intended Nationally Determined Contribution. Photo: A remote, rural community in Lao PDR where renewable energy solutions will be implemented in support of mitigation actions. Credit: Ildiko Hamos-Sohlo/UNDP Lao PDR

About the Green Climate Fund

The Green Climate Fund (GCF) is a global fund created to support the efforts of developing countries to respond to the challenge of climate change. GCF helps developing countries limit or reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change. It seeks to promote a paradigm shift to low-emission and climate-resilient development, taking into account the needs of nations that are particularly vulnerable to climate change impacts.

The GCF Readiness and Preparatory Support Programme (the Readiness Programme) is designed to support countries’ engagement with the GCF, the building of a pipeline of climate change projects, and enhance country ownership.

About the United Nations Development Programme

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) partners with people at all levels of society to help build nations that can withstand crisis, and drive and sustain the kind of growth that improves the quality of life for everyone. On the ground in nearly 170 countries and territories, we offer global perspective and local insight to help empower lives and build resilient nations.

For Further Details:

For more information on UNDP-supported Green Climate Fund Readiness projects, please contact:

Magdalena Preve (UNDP Uruguay)

Edith Assani (UNDP, Central African Republic)

Margaret Jones Williams (UNDP Lao PDR)

Last Updated: 19 Aug 2019