High-Ambition NDC

A successful NDC process should produce three results:

  • An NDC that embraces immediate, drastic climate action, in mitigation and adaptation, backed by high-level political support.
  • For developing countries, a clear ‘conditional’ NDC with details on how climate finance would be used to advance climate action. For developed countries, an NDC that includes a commitment to providing climate finance, based on the stated needs of developing countries.
  • For all countries, a clear process to make the implementation of climate action a ‘whole of society’ effort. This should include the development of a consultation mechanism between government and civil society, monitoring and evaluation plans, and an agreement on the periodic review of the NDC in order to improve implementation and increase ambition.

The Paris Agreement includes a so-called “ratchet mechanism” that requires countries to continuously improve the ambition level in their NDCs.  Developing a monitoring and evaluation plan is one of the best ways to ensure continuous improvement and enhanced ambition in your country’s climate-change response (see below).

Equally important to the setting of national ambition is the multi-agency process whereby sector- or  economy-wide targets are adopted.  Simply put, preparing an ambitious NDC requires both good coordination between ministries, but also sincere and sustained outreach to CSOs, indigenous groups, women’s groups, businesses, and other stakeholders.  There are, of course, both political and technical components to this collaboration.  Both are important to ensure that climate change concerns are mainstreamed into sectoral plans, and that technical capacity informs political decision-making and financing.

But that coordination can be challenging.  A recent survey of government officials involved with NDC development found the biggest coordination challenges associated with assessing economic impacts; measuring and promoting ‘co-benefits’ from mitigation actions; and assessing what constitutes a ‘fair and ambitious’ NDC.  Almost half of respondents acknowledged the challenge of the lack of technical capacity.  However, other studies have shown that the process by which NDCs are prepared itself increases the capacity and knowledge base for grappling with climate change – one of the reasons CLARA created this website!  Improved capacity should in future result in greater NDC ambition, and improved ability to implement the plans outlined in the NDC.  For this, a monitoring and evaluation plan is particularly useful.

Monitoring and Evaluation

Action phases of this website include ‘Checklists for Climate Action’.  Action pages list ‘things to look for’  in an existing NDC or national climate action plan.  In the Ambition phase, you’re invited to develop ideas for potential new actions and requirements.  Every country’s political and economic situation is different enough that general recommendations for engagement are less useful; but one common action all civil society and indigenous groups can take is to develop a monitoring and evaluation plan, based on your major priorities in the NDC.  Here are a few suggestions for participating in the development of, and improving, national monitoring and evaluation plan.

  • Key Objectives: In some cases you and your team will want to focus on identifying and remedying problems in existing project- and program-implementation approaches – that is, focusing on improving implementation of agreed measures.  Another approach would be to monitor current outcomes in order to feed this information back into new and ambitious program approaches. 
  • Baselines and data: Do you have good access to the information you need for monitoring and evaluation? What are you monitoring for – ecosystem integrity, community well-being, how climate finance is being spent?
  • Stakeholder engagement: Who else should be involved in this effort? Will there be consultations at the regional or local level about monitoring priorities? What’s the role of universities and scientific bodies in this process? 
  • Create an M&E framework: Once you’ve defined your objectives, gathered the necessary baseline data, and engaged key stakeholders, an M&E framework can be built.  That framework doesn’t have to be ‘static’; in fact, the best frameworks will allow for continued learning and improvement, based on observations in the field and how new data informs policy formation and implementation. 
  • Integrate the framework into national development planning: most governments recognize that climate change is a central challenge of our time; but that doesn’t necessarily means that climate change mitigation and adaptation thinking has made its way into the mainstream of development planning. Civil society has a particularly important role to play here.
Help from CLARA members

CLARA members are active in all regions of the world, and many are already involved in developing climate action plans and responses.  If you are interested in guidance or assistance, please contact us at

Further Resources

A number of countries have come together to form a ‘High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People’.  Members of this coalition recognize these key objectives:

  • No net loss of natural habitats.
  • Sustainable and equitable sharing of benefits from nature.
  • New spatial targets to protect biodiversity.
  • Improved management of existing protected areas.
  • Increased funding for conservation and restoration.
  • Enforceable implementation mechanisms. 

Specifically, the High Ambition Coalition members want to see at least 30% percent of the land and sea areas under effective conservation management by 2030.  CLARA members agree with this interim goal; while we push further to call for 50% of the planet – ‘half-Earth’ — to be managed for biodiversity and climate adaptation by 2050.  The CLARA report Missing Pathways to 1.5°C identifies how this goal can be accomplished – primarily by recognizes indigenous rights and promoting indigenous-led conservation.  You can view the High Ambition Coalition website here.


A summary of the links to pages and PDFs listed on this page.

Stay Tuned...

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