ICAT at COP25: Some highlights

ICAT events and participation in other events

ICAT actively participated in the 25th session of the Conference of Parties (COP25) of the UNFCCC, which was held in Madrid, Spain on 2-13 December 2019. ICAT hosted and participated in several events. A summary of these events is presented below.

ICAT organised two side events:

Enhanced transparency frameworks as a basis for effective climate policies: practical insights

Jointly with the Dominican Republic on 11 December, ICAT hosted Enhanced transparency frameworks as a basis for effective climate policies: practical insights. The side event focused on Latin America and the Caribbean with perspectives from Europe and Africa.

A high-level political panel discussed the potential of enhanced transparency to drive climate action and ambition. This panel highlighted lessons learnt from experience in countries in utilizing comprehensive transparency frameworks to support effective climate action and advance climate change policy domestically. The experiences shared by the high-level panellists demonstrated direct benefits of enhanced transparency.

H.E. Mr. Carlos Manuel Rodríguez (Minister of Environment and Energy, Costa Rica) highlighted the role of transparency for domestic policy processes, for instance in engaging other ministries such as the finance ministry. “Climate action transparency is more than having reliable data, but a tool to assess progress in critical fields which helps to plan, budget and implement. It is also critical to ensure well-informed political control by civil society”.

Mr. Moises Alvarez (Technical Director, National Council for Climate Change and Clean Development Mechanism (CNCCMDL), Dominican Republic) highlighted the contribution of enhanced transparency to increase national ownership and accountability in climate reporting. “One of the main co-benefits of establishing a transparency framework in the Dominican Republic has been the empowerment of institutions from government and academia to lead the establishment of sound institutional arrangements for climate reporting”. 

The importance of transparency to mobilize finance and contribute to evidence-based policies to achieve the targets established by the Paris Agreement was highlighted by several speakers. Mr. Karsten Sach (Director General, Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, Germany) underlined that “If you cannot stand in front of the finance minister with sound and credible data, you are lost as an environment official”

Ms. Katia Simeonova (Coordinator, Subsidiary Body for Implementation; and Manager, Transparency Framework Sub-Programme, UNFCCC Secretariat) emphasized the critical role of transparency for the international climate process: “Transparency is the glue that holds the Paris Agreement together.

The second half of the event witnessed a panel discussion of practitioners highlighting country experiences advancing climate action transparency. During the discussion, some of the leader countries that drove the policy to implement climate action transparency presented their achievements. Mr. Daniel Benefor (Head of Low-carbon Development and Transparency Programme, Environmental Protection Agency, Ghana), Ms. Macarena Maia Moreira Muzio (Climate Change Mitigation Coordinator, National Directorate of Climate Change, Argentina) and Ms. Luz Alcántara (Mitigation Expert, National Council for Climate Change and Clean Development Mechanism, Dominican Republic) presented concrete examples on how transparency contributed to more informed policy discussions domestically in Ghana, Argentina, and the Dominican Republic, respectively, long-term planning and better integration of mitigation, adaptation and private sector actions.

Collaboration between Costa Rica and ICAT

On 11 December 2019, ICAT signed a collaboration agreement with Costa Rica to promote Costa Rica’s national climate change metrics system SINAMECC. The system will now be available to other countries with support from ICAT for its implementation and use.

H.E. Mr. Carlos Manuel Rodríguez highlighted Costa Rica’s focus on supporting South-South and triangular cooperation. The country will share lessons learnt and best practices from its experience in establishing SINAMECC. The system helps to facilitate country compliance with the Paris Agreement’s enhanced transparency framework and to improve the data-based decision making to meet the challenges of the climate crisis. 

Mr. Henning Wuester (ICAT Director) highlighted the importance of integrated data systems as a basis for sound climate policy making and monitoring of implementation. He expressed his satisfaction with the collaboration which puts ICAT in a position to support developing countries which want to create such a system and become part of a global community of practice around a strong tool like SINAMECC.

Capacity building for ambitious climate action: How transparency can help raising ambition

At the Capacity-building hub organized by the UNFCCC Secretariat on behalf of the Paris Committee on Capacity Building, ICAT opened the Capacity-building talks on 11 December with a session Transparent and ambitious climate action: How transparency can help raising ambition. 

The session focused on the tools ICAT offers to countries as part of their capacity-building support, including the ICAT series of assessment guides and various modelling tools. Participants discussed how these tools can be used to drive climate action and ambition. Mr. David Antonioli (CEO, Verra), Ms. Karen Holm Olsen (Senior Researcher, UNEP DTU Partnership) and Ms. Cynthia Elliot (Associate, Global Climate Program, World Resources Institute), co-authors of the guides, explained how these publications provide methodologies to help users assess the impacts of policies and actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, achieve sustainable development outcomes and drive transformational change. 

Two case studies of application of the several guides were presented by panellists from Sri Lanka (Dr. Sunimal Jayathunga, Climate Change Director at the Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment; and Mr. H.M. Buddika Hemashantha, CEO of Climate SI) and Costa Rica (Ms. Ana Lucía Moya Mora from the Ministry of Environment and Energy (MINAE)). They showcased how the understanding of the impacts of climate action and policies can help improve policy design and implementation, inform the development of realistic targets for the NDCs, track progress, enhance cross-ministerial information sharing and attract finance by demonstrating the results of effective policies. 

The discussion highlighted the important role of looking beyond climate variables in driving action and ambition. In particular, a good understanding of the link between climate action and sustainable development was recognized as critical.

Mr. Wuester also participated in two other side-events.

UNFCCC side event: Moving towards sustainable institutional arrangements for the reporting to the Convention and Paris Agreement

The side-event Moving towards sustainable institutional arrangements for the reporting to the Convention and Paris Agreement was organised by the UNFCCC Secretariat. At the event, Mr. Wuester highlighted the importance of continuity and presented some of ICAT’s support to institutional arrangements and tools in partner countries. 

The panellists highlighted the importance to look beyond reporting requirements and assessment of the impacts of greenhouse gas emissions reduction towards building institutional arrangements that are integrated in the national decision-making processes. Integrating climate policies and action with national development strategies, supported by transparent data on sustainable development benefits and strong stakeholder engagement, can support countries to move toward more ambitious action. 

AOSIS/IRENA side event: Facilitating planning and financing of renewable energy projects in SIDS

Another side-event Facilitating planning and financing of renewable energy projects in SIDS was co-hosted by AOSIS and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). Mr. Wuester emphasised the importance of looking beyond the greenhouse gas emissions’ reductions achieved through climate policies and assessing sustainable development impacts in order to allow for mobilization of climate finance.

During his presentation, he presented ICAT assessment guides, designed to provide a step by step methodology for assessing transparently the impacts of climate policies and actions in various sectors, including renewable energy. Mr. Wuester highlighted that “credible and transparent monitoring and evaluation processes encourages public and private investors, mobilizing finance”. 

Joint Italian, ISPRA, UNDP and GHGMI side event: Building trust and transparency to enhance climate action

At this side event Building trust and transparency to enhance climate action, panellists discussed the new requirements under the enhanced transparency framework, a key element of the Paris Agreement and initial experiences from the national and subnational level. The Italian Ministry of Environment, Land and Sea Protection started the event with welcome remarks and ICAT’s implementing partner ISPRA presented how ICAT helps countries to enhance capacity on transparency. UNDP presented results on lessons learnt from the MRV process, highlighting steps already undertaken by countries and what is still to be developed especially considering the different level of experiences countries are facing. GHMI and the climate advisor to Los Angeles Mayor climate advisor to Los Angeles presented the experience of cooperation between regional and subnational action, specifically how a climate action plan for the city of Los Angeles was developed upholding the Paris Agreement at a city-scale.

Joint ICCCAD, LUCCC, and UNEP-DTU Partnership side event: Developing indicators for monitoring & evaluation of capacity-building initiatives

At the Capacity-building hub event Developing indicators for monitoring & evaluation of capacity-building initiatives organized by the UNFCCC Secretariat on behalf of the Paris Committee on Capacity Building, Mr. Henry Neufeldt, Project Coordinator of ICAT Adaptation Project at the UNEP-DTU Partnership, presented ICAT work on adaptation. Experiences from Bangladesh and India under the ICAT adaptation project were shared. Dr. Saleemul Huq, Director of ICCCAD, consortium partner in Bangladesh, highlighted the effectiveness of ICAT’s bottom-up capacity building approach, built and designed based on national priorities and nationally identified needs and gaps. His intervention showcased that to monitor capacity-building activities efficiently, processes must be built upon strong institutional arrangements developed by national stakeholders. 

UNEP-DTU Partnership side event at the Caribbean Cooperative MRV Hub

At the Caribbean Cooperative MRV Hub, Mr. Fernando Farias from the UNEP DTU Partnership presented the work of ICAT as an example of an opportunity for a multicountry project in the region to enhance climate action transparency. Mr. Farias highlighted that “ICAT aims to expand during 2020 the countries receiving technical support on climate transparency and CARICOM countries are invited to apply to ICAT, joining Trinidad and Tobago which is already an ICAT country. Peer-to-peer learning is an opportunity that can be fully used by countries belonging to ICAT, as we showed successful examples in a range of side events in this COP25 and that can fit very well to CARICOM countries”.

ICAT work with countries

MEETINGS WITH ICAT COUNTRIES

ICAT held a series of bilateral meetings with ICAT countries to discuss strategic matters related to the ICAT work in the country. 

ICAT met with the following 18 countries which have either a work plan in place or have formally agreed to be part of ICAT and are developing a work plan:

  • Argentina
  • Brazil
  • Botswana
  • Cambodia
  • Costa Rica
  • Cuba
  • Ethiopia
  • Ghana
  • India
  • Iran
  • Kenya
  • Mexico
  • Rwanda
  • Senegal
  • Sri Lanka
  • Sudan
  • Tanzania 
  • Viet Nam

In countries where ICAT implementation is advanced or close to finalization, the discussions were focused on strategic planning to finalize the implementation and start scoping areas of collaboration for a possible second phase, including various opportunities for peer-to-peer knowledge exchanges. The meetings with countries that are in the process of developing the scope of the country engagement focused on the country’s needs and priorities and how ICAT’s support can maximize impact.

MEETINGS WITH NEW COUNTRIES

The ICAT team also met with seven countries which are interested in joining ICAT, further to the published Call for Expression of Interest. 

Meetings were held with:

  • Chad
  • Cote d’Ivoire
  • Eswatini
  • Nigeria
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Venezuela
  • Zimbabwe

The discussions highlighted country priorities, including a broad interest among countries to enhance their domestic transparency frameworks. As a response to this interest, Mr. Wuester described ICAT’s offer and competitive advantage to meet some of these priorities. 

Following a fruitful meeting with Director Peter Terfa from the Ministry of Environment, Nigeria submitted its Expression of Interest in joining ICAT. Other countries are now submitting their Expressions of Interest.