What we learned from analysing 124 Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs)

We recently analysed Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) and NDCs of 124 countries for one of our clients. More specifically, we looked at adaptation priorities in the agricultural sector – fisheries and aquaculture, forestry, crops, livestock, and pastures. Yes, it was a tedious task, but definitely worthwhile. Here are our top five insights gained:

    1. Technology reliance: There is still an emphasis on technology transfer in many of the NDCs to address adaptation needs. However, this technology focus often ignores the capacity-building needed to successfully implement technological innovation.
    2. Ecosystem and Nature-based Adaptation is a key priority: Healthy ecosystems have been widely recognized in the NDCs as a key to resilient agricultural sectors. Conservation and rehabilitation of ecosystems, and the sustainable use of natural resources are commonly cited as priorities. The question is how to implement these at scale, and what funding mechanisms exist to encourage Ecosystem-based Adaptation?
    3. More room for social protection and DRM: Social protection, such as the diversification of livelihoods and weather derivatives, are more often prioritized in Africa than other continents. Disaster risk management (DRM) for agriculture could definitely find more room in most NDCs. Of the NDCs that include DRM measures (excluding insurance), climate information services are stated most frequently.
    4. Adaptation in forestry: Forestry is foremost recognized as a sector with mitigation potential. Its adaptation needs, however, are less often prioritized. Despite this negligence, most mitigation measures in the forestry sector have adaptation co-benefits, such as reforestation, forest protection and sustainable forest management.
    5. Continental differences: The extent to which agricultural adaptation priorities are included in NDCs varies between continents. Sub-Saharan Africa has the most "adaptation champions" – countries that state adaptation priorities in all agricultural sub-sectors. Latin America, Asia and the Pacific have the least champions. This is partially due to all sub-sectors being relevant in the majority of Sub-Saharan African countries (e.g. fisheries and/or aquaculture sector, pastures). It also shows that adaptation is a major concern in Africa. 

    Overall, NDCs vary significantly in their depth and scope. Some do not include adaptation at all, or only minimally. Others have comprehensive, sub-sector divided plans, occasionally linking them to existing policy and programmes. Adaptation priorities are usually broad terms, compressed into a few paragraphs – not nearly as detailed as mitigation priorities. This leaves room for countries and their partners to design measures that build capacity and fill adaptation gaps. At the same time, it can be more difficult to turn broad priorities into concrete adaptation action. Detailed or not, NDCs are an important policy instrument for strategic climate action and offer a chance to drive coordinated adaptation.

    For a good collection and overview of INDCs/NDCs, see https://ndcpartnership.org

Countries included in the analysis
Adapt Now: The Case for Adaptation