Local governments take the spotlight in talks of NDC implementation and post COP 23 deliberations

(L-R) Associate Programme Officer, Cross Cutting Support and Outreach, Adaptation Programme, UNFCCC, David Oehmen; UNDP- Vietnam Technical Specialist, Jenty-Kirsch-Wood; Climate Change Specialist, UN-Habitat, Liam Fee; Chief, Sustainable Urban Development Section, Environment and Development Division, UN ESCAP, Curt Garrigan; Deputy Director General, Department of Climate Change, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Vietnam, Pham Van Tan; Planning Officer V and Chief, Implementation Oversight Division, Climate Change Office of the Climate Change Commission, Philippines, Sandee Recabar; Deputy Chief, Programming Division, Planning Commission, Government of Bangladesh, Dr. Nurun Nahar; Assistant Director, Climate Change Secretariat, Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment, Sri Lanka, Sujith Ratnayake; ICLEI- Local Governments for Sustainability Secretary General Gino van Begin talked about the role of local and subnational governments in NDC implementation.

The first plenary session of RCAP 2017 brought together representatives from various UN agencies to discuss the role of local and subnational governments in the implementation of the NDCs as per the Paris Agreement of 2016, as well as the impacts of the UNFCCC COP 23 on ongoing dialogues of urban resilience.

Picking up where we left off: Post COP 23 deliberations and NDC implementation

ICLEI Secretary General Gino van Begin moderated the session. He shared the success of the Climate Summit of Local and Regional Leaders which ICLEI co-hosted for this year’s COP. This is the first joint Local and Regional Leaders’ summit conducted in conjunction with the climate negotiations and it was attended by participants from all over the world. He noted the significance of Paris Agreement as it came into force this year, describing it as “unstoppable and irreversible.” As such, cities and regional governments are invited to take on the challenge of scaling up local climate action. “This is the perfect time to engage local and regional governments in delivering national commitments and raise ambitions globally,” van Begin explained.

Liam Fee, Climate Change Specialist at the UN-Habitat shared the recently published Sustainable Urbanization in the Paris Agreement- a global review of NDCs as compared to urban context. He noted that urban challenges in Asia are directly concerned with adaptation and issues of flood, drought, and sea level rise threaten the region.

To address these issues, there is a need to step up planning and implementation of adaptation strategies. Ms. Jenty Kirsh-Wood of UNDP Vietnam underscored three things: ambition, finance, partnerships. She noted that progress in these key areas are instrumental in defining the ability to meet the global challenge that urban systems are facing. The operationalization of these three key areas should involve not only government agencies but the private sector, academe, and other stakeholders as well.

For UNFCCC Associate Program Officer for Adaptation David Oehmen, the rulebook for Paris agreement is one of the most important outcomes of CO23. Echoing Ms. Kirsh-Wood’s point on better collaboration, Oehmen brought forth the launch of the Fiji Commitment which has inputs from local and national governments along with the private sector and other actors.

Country plans and strategies towards creating resilient cities

In order to look into post-COP23 deliberation through a national level perspective, Pham Van Tan, Deputy Director General of the Department of Climate Change, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of Vietnam shared that in their opinion, central governments should ensure NDC implementation that cuts across all levels of governance. To achieve this, Vietnam is currently reviewing its NDC. In this vein, the climate change office is working hard to involve not only external stakeholders but other relevant ministries as well.

In the case of the Philippines, Sandee Recabar of the Climate Change Commission reported that COP23 set the stage for local communities to be involved in the negotiations. The Commission has been working with the Leauge of Cities of the Philippines during the negotiations to enable local governments to set their stake at global level discussions. She shared the four Ms of Philippine NDC process and formulation: mainstreaming, mobilizing partnership and support, module or manual development for capacity building, and monitoring and evaluation.

Speaking for Bangladesh, Dr. Nurun Nahar, Deputy Chief of Planning Commission stated that adaptation is one of the primary priorities but it goes along with efforts to create more jobs and reduce poverty. Planning for better urban resilience is a challenge and finance has always been an issue for them. However, Bangladesh is striving towards getting their ministries to work together and synchronize resilience planning into further development goals which are inclusive and gender-responsive.

Deputy Chief, Programming Division, Planning Commission, Government of Bangladesh, Dr. Nurun Nahar reported that Bangladesh is planning for resilience but economic pressures requires the government to effectively plan for poverty alleviation as well.


Meanwhile, in Sri Lanka, Sujith Ratnayake, Assistant Director of the Climate Change Secretariat shared that their country is taking a systems-based approach as they have to consider both rural and urban landscape. Planning for human settlement, especially in urban areas, has to ultimately achieve climate resilience along with socioecological and economic resilience as well. Towards this end, Sri Lanka was glad to share that they have just approved the green building policy which promotes principles of green building and architecture, especially for government buildings.

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