3 February 2021
More than Just Words: Working Together Accelerates Ambition for Climate and Sustainable Development
Santiago, Chile. Photo Credit: Mauro Mora/Unsplash
story highlights

Action on the speed and scale demanded by the Paris Agreement does not just mean setting better targets or raising more money.

It also means working together in new ways to combine everyone’s strengths in the most effective ways.

The NDC Partnership enters its next five-year Work Program, aiming to support countries in facing the impacts of rising temperatures and accelerating ambitious action for the climate.

By Pablo Vieira

In 2020 the world pivoted to face the oncoming challenge of COVID-19—both its immediate health impacts and the economic recovery that must come next. Political attention and budgets were diverted toward the crisis. On a more mundane level, many ways in which we work together—international conferences, in-country stakeholder meetings, exchange of experts—became impossible or much harder. 

Achieving the Paris Agreement requires combining everyone’s strengths in more effective ways.

But it is encouraging to see what has remained steady at the NDC Partnership, a global coalition of countries and institutions collaborating to drive transformational climate action while enhancing sustainable development. Despite the challenges, we have seen our members maintaining their commitment to ambitious action. Enhancements to countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) – expected in 2020 – were delayed in some cases but have not been derailed. Our members have adapted with impressive speed to find new ways to support each other in advancing their climate commitments, including through the deployment of economic advisors to support green recovery efforts. 

The Partnership was set up in the conviction that action on the speed and scale demanded by the Paris Agreement does not just mean setting better targets or raising more money—important though those are. It also means working together in new ways to make sure that everyone’s strengths are combined in the most effective ways. We look to countries to lead, and we align support among many members working through public, government-owned plans. This puts countries in the position to take a strategic, integrated approach to climate and sustainable development. It allows members and partners to deliver support in line with country needs and their own comparative advantages while avoiding duplication. And it helps us learn more effectively as we go by sharing knowledge and data across all members.  

In 2020, we came to the end of our first Work Program. The Partnership’s support for countries’ NDC efforts is summarized in our yearly publication ‘Partnership in Action,’ which shares the experiences of 11 countries: Burkina Faso, Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, Ecuador, Jamaica, Mozambique, Pakistan, Peru, the Philippines, Rwanda, and São Tomé and Príncipe. These are just some of the most interesting stories from the 75 countries being supported through the combined efforts of 120 members and non-member partners. Our experience has demonstrated that, working together, we can all be more effective and impactful. 

As we start the implementation of our 2021-2025 Work Program, we need to build on this model and keep its spirit. But we also need to significantly boost our efforts. For all the encouraging response to the COVID-19 crisis, countries face a number of challenges, including budget shortfalls, greater debt burdens, and the urgent need for economic recovery. While we see many countries presenting revised NDCs and greater ambition, global efforts remain far below those demanded by the Paris Agreement. And even with extraordinary efforts to limit emissions, countries face rising temperatures for the foreseeable future. 

Countries need to prepare for the impacts of these rising temperatures. The year 2020 was among the hottest ever recorded. It may also turn out to be among the coolest in the next few decades. 

For all our progress, we have a lot of work to do. But the Partnership is ready. By working together, we can accelerate ambitious action for our climate and a sustainable future.

The author of this guest article, Pablo Vieira, is the Global Director of the NDC Partnership. The multimedia version of Partnership in Action 2020 is available here. Please register here for a 22 February webinar on the Partnership in Action report findings.

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