Sri Lankan MRV ensures transparent and impactful NDCs

By Fatemeh Bakhtiari and Subash Dhar (UNEP-DTU)

UNEP DTU Partnership experts under the ICAT project have helped Sri Lanka in designing a national Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) system for the transport sector as well as revising transport related NDC policies.

The Initiative for Climate Action Transparency (ICAT) project in Sri Lanka has been a successful collaboration between the Climate Change Secretariat of the Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment, the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation, UNEP DTU Partnership and the local consultancy team, Climate Smart Initiatives (Pvt) Ltd (ClimateSI).

The collaboration has resulted in a unique institutional arrangement for data collection and the development of the country’s first MRV system for climate action.

The MRV system covers the transport sector, a sector prioritised by the Sri Lankan government for climate and NDC action. Its design is based on methodologies from ICAT and follows the Paris Agreement’s Enhanced Transparency Framework.

Through the UNEP DTU Partnership expertise and approach, local ownership of processes, data and results have been ensured in the project, paving the way for replication in other key sectors in Sri Lanka.

Data is key

Working with Sri Lankan stakeholders, experts from UNEP DTU Partnership helped create a data management system, and an infrastructure for sharing data across ministries. Part of this work also included raising awareness and improving communication between national stakeholders.

Building on an already existing legal framework and collection of data, the MRV system for the transport sector benefits from a strong institutional setup and capacity, and can be replicated to other sectors.

Through the project, all stakeholders in Sri Lanka now has a solid understanding of the MRV system and the benefits of transparency in climate actions and NDC reporting.

Using the GACMO model, developed by UNEP DTU Partnership, Sri Lankan stakeholders were also able to use the data to ensure additional funding for climate action.

“UNEP DTU Partnership helped us revise NDC on transport by applying the GACMO model to scientifically asses the greenhouse gas index for our transport NDCs,” Buddika Hemashantha, Chief Executing Officer in ClimateSI, explains.

The GACMO model result were presented to the Green Climate Fund – using the data to justify projects for future funding.

Translating ICAT methodologies

Buddika Hemashantha has been working with UNEP DTU Partnership and local stakeholders on the project since its inception in 2018.

According to him, a key aspect of the project was using methodologies developed in ICAT, adapting them into something that could be used in Sri Lanka.

“We received very helpful guidance from the UNEP DTU Partnership experts, translating the ICAT methodologies into a Sri Lankan context,” he says, adding:

“It was challenging in the beginning of the project, but it turned out to be very successful, among other things because of the good team work between UNEP DTU Partnership and all the stakeholders”.

With the MRV in place for the transport sector, and the data management system implemented by all stakeholders, the knowledge gained through this process will spread to other sectors. As transport is intrinsically liked to other sectors, such as industry, waste and finance, the capacity building for this MRV will spread to other sectors.

Transparent NDCs

Another important aspect of developing the MRV and data management system is that Sri Lanka can use the systemised data for NDC reporting, measure and report on impact of climate action and thus help mobilise finance.

The MRV system can be used to translate overall NDC targets to sector sub-targets, while providing a framework and data for reporting on those targets, making NDCs more realistic and transparent.

“At the same time, the improved data from the MRV system is crucial in choosing the most effective climate action and for prioritising actions”, Buddika Hemashantha says.

Phase two started

In early 2020 the second phase of UNEP DTU Partnership’s work on MRV systems in Sri Lanka began, this time focusing on sustainable development, revising and tracking NDCs and a continuation of the previous work.

Again using the GACMO model, the sustainable development impact of mitigation actions will be added to the system, enabling reporting and planning on both climate and development impacts.

The continuation of the project will also focus on solidifying the MRV system, among other things through digitalisation and expanding capacity-building to new sectors in Sri Lanka.