Change is never easy. Most countries will need to build more capacity in order to undertake the technological, political and societal changes to transition to a climate-resilient and low-carbon economy. Without the appropriate capacity-building support, they may not be able to implement and operationalize their commitments under the Paris Agreement.

Developing countries undertaking capacity-building activities to support their climate and development agendas have found varying levels of success and frustration. At a time of climate emergency, as countries strive to implement the Paris Agreement and enhance their climate action, as well as their ability to mobilize and access support, they have a growing need for the most effective and efficient capacity-building interventions. This is why discussions on capacity-building will be an important issue to watch at COP25 in Madrid.

In a previous blog, we explored the importance of capacity-building for the Paris Agreement's enhanced transparency framework. Here we focus on four areas where capacity-building will be center stage at COP25.

1. Review of the Paris Committee on Capacity-building

Alongside the adoption of the Paris Agreement in 2015, countries also created the Paris Committee on Capacity-building (PCCB). At that time, countries decided that they would review "the progress, need for extension, the effectiveness and enhancement of the [PCCB]" in 2019. This process will take place at COP25.

Extending and enhancing the PCCB will help governments explore and develop capacity-building efforts that get closer to achieving the capacity-building objectives of the Paris Agreement. Last month, WRI prepared a submission to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on the PCCB, which laid out how the Committee can continue to play important roles in enhancing collaboration among capacity-building stakeholders and improving the effectiveness of capacity-building efforts.

In particular, the PCCB could support collaboration between key stakeholders — such as policymakers, practitioners, grassroots organizations, the private sector, universities, civil society organizations, indigenous people, women and youth — to build capacity for localized climate action by:

  • Facilitating engagement on the regional, national and subnational levels;
  • Building synergies among a broader set of institutions, within and beyond the UNFCCC, to better integrate gender equality, indigenous peoples' rights and other human rights into climate action; and
  • Expanding multi-stakeholder networks to promote knowledge-sharing and best practices.

The PCCB could also improve capacity-building efforts through monitoring and awareness, specifically by:

  • Developing a periodic assessment report on capacity-building to facilitate better decisions and hold stakeholders accountable. Such a report could examine progress in enhancing capacity building and the challenges and limitations in capacity building. Preparing this type of report would require the mobilization and collaboration of various experts and other UNFCCC bodies due to the cross-cutting nature of the exercise.
  • Developing and disseminating tools and methodologies to best measure, monitor, and implement, and to evaluate capacity-building efforts through awareness-raising and communication.

2. Review of the Capacity-Building Framework

In 2001, countries agreed on a capacity-building framework under the UNFCCC for developing countries, which highlighted 15 priority areas. This framework and its priority areas remain in place. At COP25, countries will continue discussing progress toward the various priority areas, including all efforts under the UNFCCC. Governments will also discuss new and emerging areas for capacity-building, especially in the context of implementing the Paris Agreement. Through this COP25 review, countries will examine gaps and challenges in capacity-building, identify lessons learned and best practices, and consider ways to build capacity more effectively and efficiently.

The review of the capacity-building framework is important as countries explore how best to support capacity-building for the implementation of the Paris Agreement. During the review, countries should also take the opportunity to consider whether the existing priority areas are still fit for purpose, and whether to change them or add new priority areas given the adoption of the Paris Agreement.

3. Terms of Reference for the Consultative Group of Experts

Parties to the UNFCCC created a Consultative Group of Experts (CGE) in 1999 to support developing countries in fulfilling their reporting obligations, and provide them with training materials. In 2018, countries extended the CGE's mandate through 2026, deciding that the group will support countries in implementing the Paris Agreement. This support helps countries build their capacity to respond to the new transparency requirements of the Paris Agreement. However, negotiators still need to agree on the terms of reference for the CGE, and define how exactly the group will operate, in support of the Paris Agreement.

The Paris Agreement's enhanced transparency framework presents new challenges for countries and the CGE is likely to play a role in preparing governments for the new requirements. As countries examine and elaborate specific roles for the CGE, they will have to consider how best the experts can support implementation of the Paris Agreement.

4. Second Capacity-Building Hub

The PCCB will host the Second Capacity-Building Hub at COP25 from December 4-11. The Capacity-building Hub is a space for governments and civil society to come together, share their experiences and knowledge, and explore opportunities for further collaboration. The Capacity-building Hub is organized around several different themes — including transparency, knowledge to action, means of implementation, local governments and cities.

The Capacity-building Hub provides space for valued exchanges among governments and civil society organizations. Ultimately, the Hub aims to yield concrete results and coherent outcomes that can lead to higher ambition and greater action for all Parties and stakeholders.

The effectiveness of capacity-building efforts becomes more crucial as countries enhance their NDCs. Providing ample space for engagement on capacity-building at COP25 will inform the development and design of tools and methodologies, and foster better synergy among stakeholders on the interventions needed to fulfill the objectives of the Paris Agreement. COP25 provides an important opportunity to strengthen capacity-building in global climate action, with an end goal of mobilizing key stakeholders and equipping all countries with the tools they need to tackle climate change.