The NAP process and the Sustainable Development Goals

Strengthening the means of implementation

Climate change and our responses to it will have implications for our ability to achieve (and pay for) all of the proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The National Adaptation Plan (NAP) process recognizes this inherent link between adaptation and overall development planning with its focus on integration of adaptation considerations to ensure climate-resilient outcomes.

In some respects, the role of the NAP process in achieving the SDGs is self-evident. Under Goal 13, “Taking Urgent Action to Fight Climate Change,” the focus on building adaptive capacity and resilience—as well as integrating climate change considerations into national policies, strategies, and planning—is synonymous with the objectives of the NAP process.

Beyond these explicit climate-focused links, however, the NAP process is also an example of an approach to supporting the means of implementation of the SDGs—namely Goal 17 and related targets on “Strengthening the means of implementation and revitalizing the global partnership for sustainable development.” The NAP process and engagement around it, including activities being convened through the NAP Global Network, can support implementation of this goal in the following ways:

  • Building respect for each country’s policy space and leadership on adaptation.
  • Convening North–South and South–South cooperation to build capacity for implementing NAPs with the potential to climate-proof the SDGs.

Building Respect for Each Country’s Policy Space and Leadership

Target 17.14: Enhance policy coherence for sustainable development 

Target 17.15: Respect each country’s policy space and leadership to establish and implement policies for poverty eradication and sustainable development.

The NAP process is an opportunity for countries to define their adaptation priorities in relation to their overall development objectives, establishing a policy space to pursue climate-resilient development.  The underlying principles of the NAP process state that it should be country-owned and country-driven. The Technical Guidelines on the NAP process provided by the Least Developed Countries Experts Group (LEG) are purposely non-prescriptive, acknowledging that NAP processes may take different forms according to what best fits a particular country’s circumstances.

Already, countries engaged in NAP processes are putting in place the mechanisms required to integrate adaptation considerations into sector and overall development planning. Examples demonstrate that while countries are taking different approaches to creating a policy space for collaboration among actors from ministries of environment, planning, finance, and climate-sensitive sectors to achieve this integration, all include a strong leadership and coordination function. As we’ve described elsewhere, this process can also help to build domestic policy coherence through coordination of in-country actors and ministries around efforts to achieve common goals.

Convening North–South and South–South Cooperation to Build Capacity

Target 17.9: Enhance international support for implementing effective and targeted capacity-building in developing countries to support national plans to implement all the sustainable development goals, including through North–South, South–South and triangular cooperation.

As the OECD and participants in the NAP Global Network’s first Targeted Topics Forum have recently pointed out, the NAP process can help countries articulate a clear narrative around their adaptation needs and priorities. These narratives can help facilitate conversations with development cooperation agencies providing support for adaptation and/or for climate-sensitive sectors such as agriculture, infrastructure, and water, making clear how they can align their support with developing countries’ priorities.

Building on this potential, the NAP Global Network aims to enhance bilateral support for NAPs by bringing together representatives of institutions involved in and/or supporting these processes from the North and the South. With the diversity of participants, the Network aims to support North–South and South–South cooperation: It supports South–South sharing of experiences and in-depth technical discussions on challenges and best practices that contribute to an understanding of what NAP processes can look like in practice. By bringing together both development cooperation agencies and partner countries, the Network helps ensure that developing countries have a voice in how bilateral aid can best be used to support climate-resilient development, and that development cooperation agencies have the best possible understanding of how they can leverage their ODA portfolios to ensure adaptation is taken into account.

More than an approach to planning for adaptation, the NAP process and engagement around it provide an example of how we can strengthen the means of implementation (and financing) of the SDGs.

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Any opinions stated in this blog post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of the NAP Global Network, its funders, or Network participants.

Photo: Alec Crawford (IISD)