Key Message

To achieve their sustainable development goals, developing countries must overcome the daunting challenge of transitioning to a low-carbon economic development pathway while simultaneously adapting to a changing climate.

Developing Country Actions

Supporting Low-Emission Development in Developing Countries


Developing countries face the dual challenge of building stronger economies through actions such as expanded energy supply, increased agricultural production and better transportation systems, while also playing an active role in global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. To reconcile these needs, a growing number of developing countries are preparing national strategies and plans for low-emission development. They are taking advantage of various processes already operating or emerging from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), such as Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs). These and other initiatives, programs and partnerships are supported by a range of multilateral organizations, national governments and non-governmental actors. Moving from planning to implementation, however, is impeded by numerous challenges, such as attracting much-needed financing, leveraging scarce financial and human resources, and ensuring complementarity with broader sustainable development objectives.

IISD is working to help developing country governments prepare and implement low-emission development policies, strategies and plans that are practical, cohesive, aligned with national development plans and have high potential to provide sustainable development co-benefits.

Our recent contributions that enable low-emission development include:

IISD has also prepared policy briefs that present NAMA concepts for Bangladesh and Trinidad and Tobago that could be further validated and turned into NAMA proposals. Each brief is based on a review of government documents and application of a standardized NAMA Quick Screen process.

As part of our work on the green economy, IISD has collaborated with the United Nations Environment Programme as it conducts green economy scoping studies for a number of countries. In our first collaboration on this series of scoping studies, Green Economy Scoping Study: Azerbaijan, IISD contributed to the underlying macroeconomic and policy analysis and recommendations.

Supporting the Development of Kenya’s National Climate Change Action Plan

The Government of Kenya released its National Climate Change Action Plan in March 2013, the result of a year-long multistakeholder participatory process. Along with several other development partners, IISD led the following elements:

This work was funded by the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) and the Government of Norway.

Supporting the Enhancement of NAMA Capacities in Congo Basin Countries

IISD, in partnership with ÉcoRessources, undertook a multiphase project designed to enhance the capacity of government representatives in 10 Congo Basin countries in the selection, design and implementation of NAMAs. The program increased understanding of NAMA concepts, opportunities and options for financing within Congo Basin countries. Outputs of the project include:

Funding for this work was provided by Environment Canada.

Developing Financeable NAMAs: A Practitioner’s Guide, online course and webinars

Building from experience in a number of developing countries, IISD has developed a guidebook for a standardized, country-driven process to identify and prioritize NAMA opportunities. The goal of Developing Financeable NAMAs: A Practitioner’s Guide is to ensure that NAMAs meet a country's specific needs and align with pre-existing policy frameworks and development aspirations. The guidebook outlines both a "Quick Screen" methodology, used to identify NAMA opportunities that have the potential for climate finance, and a "Deep Screen" methodology, used to determine from a list of NAMA opportunities which are most appropriate for the country.

IISD has also developed an online training program to guide practitioners and policy-makers in successfully identifying and prioritizing financeable NAMAs. To launch and pilot this online program, IISD hosted three webinars in July 2013. The webinars provided an overview of three of the online courses, Developing a NAMA Quick Screen, Deep Screen and Preparing a GHG Baseline Projection, and presented IISD's on-the-ground experience with NAMAs. Recordings from these webinars are available through IISD’s Learning Centre.

Financing Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs): Leveraging private investment

Drawing on its considerable experience with NAMAs, IISD has developed a guide for developing country NAMA practitioners and NAMA funders entitled Financing Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs): Leveraging private investment. Sustainable financing of NAMAs in many cases ultimately requires blending funds from public and private sources, so it is essential that NAMA developers try to maximally leverage private investment. But the question of how to do so in practice can be complex. 

Using eight case studies drawn from existing NAMA projects and from various other climate change mitigation and public infrastructure transformation projects, the paper outlines best practices for attracting private sector investment in countries’ NAMAs. Based on the eight case studies, it identifies six key aspects that are crucial to developing bankable NAMAs and also offers guidance on risk mitigation policies that can be instituted by governments and NAMA developers to increase NAMAs’ bankability. A set of recommendations is offered for both practitioners and donors looking to maximize private investment in their NAMAs. A companion infographic summarizing the findings of the paper has also been developed and is available here.

Supporting Climate-Compatible Development in Pakistan

IISD led the identification of readiness activities in Pakistan that will lay the groundwork for comprehensive, long-term adaptation and mitigation action and support implementation of the country’s National Climate Change Policy. The output was a work program focused on readiness actions needed to move Pakistan toward the development of an evidence base for identifying priority adaptation and mitigation actions, the establishment of appropriate institutions and stakeholder engagement processes, and the demonstration of preparedness to effectively and efficiently use international financial support.

As background to this study, IISD prepared a situational analysis on adaptation. A similar study, focused on mitigation opportunities in Pakistan, was prepared by IISD and its project partner, the Energy research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN). This work was completed in 2013 with funding from CDKN and under the guidance of the Government of Pakistan.