Public Participation? invites Civil Society Organizations, Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples to take advantage of opportunities for public participation included in the Paris Agreement.  We call on governments to ensure effective participation of the public in all decision-making processes related to climate mitigation, adaptation and food security, and budgeting for climate response. 

Full and effective participation of civil society in national climate action planning is essential for effective NDC implementation. Appropriate consultation processes should be developed for planning, as well as partnership ideas for NDC implementation.

Members of the public most likely to be impacted by climate change need to have their voices heard.  Decisions related to forests and agriculture lands must involve current users.  This is key to the legitimacy of national climate plans and the NDC, and to ensure long-term public support for its implementation.

Paris Agreement on Participation

The Paris Agreement calls on Parties to “cooperate in taking measures leading to public awareness, public participation and access to information.”  The Paris Agreement requires inclusive stakeholder engagement in all of its processes, including NDCs, national adaptation plans (NAPs), and REDD+.

Making use of traditional knowledge, and developing systems for monitoring progress toward adaptation and mitigation goals, are two examples of where engagement can lead to better results.

Finally, effective involvement of civil society and indigenous peoples in the planning of the NDC is critical to ensure that the policy choices that underpinning the national commitment is in the broad public interest – and not captured by the interests of a small set of actors.

Civil society is to a great extent the only reliable motor for driving institutions to change at the pace required.  

IPCC, 2018 Special Report

Through COP decisions and under other international legal agreements, governments have committed to guarantee the effective participation of specific segments of the population whose contribution to environmental decision-making is of particular importance.  This includes indigenous peoples, forest-dependent communities, women, and youth.

Participatory NDC Planning

Only through a transparent, inclusive and participatory process can the contributions submitted by governments under the Paris Agreement be truly “nationally determined”. The IPCC has noted civil society’s central role in bringing about the transformational changes required by the Paris Agreement. To ensure that national participation is effective, members of the public must be provided with relevant information and their input must be taken seriously throughout the process.

Scientific research has demonstrated in many instances that climate policies conceived in a participatory manner yield greater results. For instance, emissions from deforestation and forest degradation are lower in regions with greater levels of land tenure and forest rights for local communities and indigenous peoples empowering them to maintain or improve their forests’ carbon storage. Similarly, adaptation policies designed with the expertise of the communities directly impacted result in greater resilience than those imposed through top-down approaches. Governments have also recognized that traditional and local knowledge can greatly improve the impact and resilience of climate responses. Guaranteeing the effective participation of all segments of civil society in the planning of the NDCs is also critical to map and identify opportunities for climate ambition beyond those perceptible through the lens of the national government.

Implementation and Monitoring

The communication of the NDC to the UNFCCC is only the beginning of a multi-year process. While public participation is critical in the design of the NDC to inform the ambition and scope of future climate actions, it is also critical throughout the domestic implementation of the NDC to ensure that climate policies and programs – particularly those impacting land – provide benefits to communities while respecting human rights.

Rights of Indigenous Peoples

The planning and implementation of the NDCs must respect the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities to make decisions related to the use of their land and forests. Due account should be taken to the existence of these particular rights and implications. This includes respect for local and traditional knowledge in line with international obligations as provided under the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the ILO Convention 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples.

What to Look For
  • Key decisions about the NDC must take place with the full and effective participation of civil society and indigenous peoples.
  • The government should identify specific groups and constituencies whose participation will be essential for planning and implementation of the NDC. The government should design approaches that guarantee the effective participation of each of these groups, and account for different capacities and cultural contexts including language.  Planning and implementation measures must ensure the equal and equitable participation of men and women.
  • Consultation processes involving different stakeholders should be designed to promote transparency, minimize inequality, and avoid the exercise of undue economic or political influence in the design and implementation of the NDC.
  • The participatory process should take place along reasonable timeframes ensuring meaningful and effective participation before decision-making Relevant information must be communicated to members of the public in an understandable and accessible manner.
  • Members of the public should be notified about how their input was effectively taken into consideration, and about the outcomes from participatory process
  • The NDC should lay out mechanisms and/or processes (to be) established to guarantee the effective participation of the public in decisions related to the implementation of the NDC. This includes the right of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) for indigenous peoples.
Further Resources

In this 2016 policy brief, CLARA member Carbon Market Watch looked at stakeholder involvement, making information available in appropriate languages, and ideas/requirements for successful consultations.

Two dozen Latin America and Caribbean nations have signed the Escazu Agreement.  This agreement is focused on environmental governance and human rights – guaranteeing the right to live in a healthy environment.  It also has provisions to protect environmental defenders.  It is comes into force in 2021.  See the International Justice Resource Center briefing here

Library Resources

Participatory NDC Planning

  • NAMA lessons for NDCs
  • VPCs and NDCs

Rights for Indigenous Peoples

  • Securing Rights
  • IPs in the INDCs