Getting Started on Vertical Integration

It is clear from the UNFCCC decisions and the NAP Technical Guidelines that sub-national actors play an important role in the NAP process. For effective vertical integration, the mechanisms for making it happen must be considered from the beginning of the process. This section discusses some of the issues that you should consider during the initiation of the NAP process and the development of the roadmap.

A1: Initiating and Launching of the NAP Process

Building Commitment for Vertical Integration

The best approach to vertical integration must be decided based on the particular circumstances in your country and your specific NAP process. In many contexts, the first step is to establish a mandate that includes sub-national engagement. What this looks like will depend on the country: in countries that are well-advanced in the process of decentralizing decision-making power to sub-national authorities, generating this commitment is likely to be easier, as there will already be regulatory frameworks and mechanisms in place for sub-national planning, allocation of resources and other functions that are useful for vertical integration in the NAP process. In other countries, more work may be required to generate political will and resources to engage sub-national stakeholders.

With a mandate to engage sub-national stakeholders in the NAP process, the next step is typically to identify which actors must be involved. This generally begins with the sub-national authorities. Different countries have a range of institutional structures at the sub-national level, and there may or may not be clear entry points for engagement in the NAP process. You will need to decide which institutions should be implicated based on the particular context in your country. Potential options include the local development planning authority, sub-national representatives of key line ministries such as environment, water and agriculture and/or multisectoral task forces focused on relevant issues (such as food security or ecosystem management).You will also need to decide how these actors will be involved, for example by including representatives from regional or provincial government in the NAP team. In many countries, there is more than one level of sub-national authority (for example, districts may be organized into regions)—you will need to consider which actors at these different levels are best placed to take on different roles within the NAP process. To the extent possible, you should build on existing mechanisms for collaboration between different levels of government.

Vertical integration is not only about collaboration between national and sub-national authorities. Ideally, it will involve other stakeholders, including local organizations and communities and vulnerable groups, who actively participate in the process. Where sub-national authorities already have strong relationships with these other entities, for example through participatory local development processes or stakeholder platforms on particular issues, involving them in the NAP process will be more straightforward. When these relationships do not exist, an investment in stakeholder mapping and awareness raising may be required to identify and engage the appropriate actors in the process. Ensuring common language and a shared vision for the process is key tobuilding effective collaboration among the different stakeholders involved.

Integrating Vertical Integration in the NAP Roadmap

To ensure adequate attention to vertical integration throughout the NAP process, you should clearly indicate the strategy for involving sub-national stakeholders in the NAP roadmap. At a minimum, the roadmap should include the following elements related to vertical integration:

  • Identification of the strategic points in the NAP process where sub-national stakeholders will participate.
  • An outline of roles and responsibilities for elements of the NAP process related to vertical integration.
  • A description of the institutional arrangements for vertical integration throughout planning, implementation and M&E

"It is … very important for a wide range of stakeholders to be involved in the process of planning and implementing adaptation activities to ensure that the assessment and subsequent results are understood and are useful in decision-making. In this sense, adaptation can be seen as a way to help stakeholders to achieve their collective development … goals considering a changing climate.”

Technical guidelines for the NAP process (UNFCCC, 2012)

A further developed strategy for vertical integration could include:

  • Identification of existing information and resources that can be fed into the NAP to support vertical integration (for example, local adaptation plans that have already been developed or evaluation reports for adaptation projects), as well as gaps in information at sub-national levels thatneed to be filled.
  • A strategy for building capacity to enable the process of vertical integration.
  • A description of the mechanisms, roles and responsibilities for generating and sharing information between the different levels throughout the process.
  • Identification of specific groups that will be represented in the process, such as women, indigenous peoples, socially marginalized groups and different livelihood groups (such as fishers, farmers or pastoralists).
  • A strategy for ensuring gender sensitivity in terms of participants, facilitation approaches and identification of priorities.
  • A description of the approach to managing sensitive issues and potential conflicts that may arise through participatory processes.
  • Identification of the expected outputs in relation to vertical integration.

The aim in thinking through strategies for vertical integration during the development of the roadmap is to ensure active participation and representation of a wide range of voices while not creating an overly cumbersome process. The nature of the NAP, as an iterative and flexible process, allows for increasing attention to and investment in vertical integration as knowledge and capacity are built at all levels. The guidance in Sections 5 to 7 provides further details on how to address these elements at different points in the NAP process.

Enabling Factors for Vertical Integration

In this guidance, we highlight three key enabling factors that support vertical integration throughout the entire NAP process:

  • Institutional arrangements: The mechanisms that facilitate dialogue between the national and sub-national levels and ensure engagement of sub-national actors in the process.
  • Information sharing: Generation and sharing of information, including climate information4 as well as information on the NAP and related processes, to ensure that all actors are acting in an informed manner.
  • Capacity development: Ensuring that actors at national and sub-national levels have the capacities needed for vertical integration in the NAP process to occur.

As shown in Figure 1, these factors are at the centre of the vertical integration process, providing a basis for everything else that needs to happen during planning, implementation and M&E. Figure 2 demonstrates the importance of these enabling factors in each of these dimensions. Questions to consider for the enabling factors are integrated throughout the guidance to follow (see also Annex A).

Figure 2. Enabling factors for vertical integration.

Colombia’s Climate Change Regional Nodes: A multistakeholder platform linking national and sub-national adaptation planning and action

A key message for Colombia’s NAP process is that informed decisions for adaptation are cost-effective. The country has taken a multipronged approach to its NAP process, aligning it with the National Development Plan for 2014–2018. A key element of the process is the incorporation of adaptation in sectoral, territorial and municipal planning processes (National Planning Department, Government of Colombia, 2016). To facilitate this, nine regional nodes have been established, comprising government representatives as well as private sector actors, research institutions, universities and civil society stakeholders.

Colombia’s governance system comprises 32 departments (the level below the national government) and municipalities, which are the local administration (both urban and rural areas are referred to as municipalities). The regional nodes group together departments in the same area with similar characteristics. The model emerged organically, when three departments in the coffee region decided to work together on adaptation planning. The Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development (MESD) recognized the value of this approach and established nine regional nodes across the country. These remained informal bodies until February 2016, when a decree was approved officially integrating the regional nodes into the national climate change governance system. The nodes are currently in the process of formalizing their structures, including definition of roles and responsibilities and planning for the coming years.

The regional nodes are not decision-making bodies: their main objective is providing a multistakeholder platform for information sharing and collaboration on climate change, including both adaptation and mitigation. They act as a link between the national and sub-national levels. The MESD ensures the flow of information between the nodes and the intersectoral climate change commission, which is the highest decision-making body, led by the MESD and the National Planning Department. The intention is for the nodes to provide an overarching framework for planning at the departmental level, with the ultimate objective of integrating climate change into the municipal development and land-use plans, which drive allocation of resources to local governments. The formalization of the nodes has been an important step in moving away from a strictly top-down approach, creating a platform for different stakeholders to participate in adaptation planning at the sub-national level (M. Rojas-Laserna, personal communication, August 16, 2016).


4 In this document, climate information refers to a range of different types of information that are useful in informing adaptation decision-making, including data on key weather and climate variables, analysis of drivers of vulnerability to climate change, future climate scenarios, etc.