The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP26, was one of 2021’s biggest events and arguably the most prominent global climate summit since the landmark COP21 which resulted in the Paris Agreement. Over two weeks last November, the host city of Glasgow saw intense climate diplomacy from world leaders and their negotiators, some frustrated tears about what to do about coal, and headline grabbing calls to action from the Small Island Developing States at the frontline of the impacts of the climate crisis (in particular rising sea levels). For mere observers, it may seem that not much happens between these large global summits. But major events like COP26 are in fact part of a continuous process which involves significant planning and stakeholder engagement at national level, often facilitated by international cooperation. Read on to learn about a recent AETS project which supported the government of Mauritius, a low-lying island state which faces considerable threats due to the climate crisis, in reviewing and updating its ‘Nationally Determined Contribution’ (NDC) before COP26.

But first, what is an NDC? Put simply, a Nationally Determined Contribution is the action plan that sets out a country’s targets and projects to be implemented for both cutting emissions and adapting to climate impacts. While the overall NDC process is voluntary, countries which have signed up the Paris Agreement are expected to update their plan every five years for submission to the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). As such, from July 2020 to August 2021 AETS teamed up with Cibola Partners, a company specialised in innovative climate finance solutions, to assess, review, and update Mauritius’ NDC, while also providing the country’s Ministry of Environment, Solid Waste Management and Climate Change with a comprehensive toolkit to monitor and report on its implementation.

This support to the government of Mauritius was financed under the Adapt’Action Facility, an Agence Française de Développement initiative, partly implemented by Expertise France, which assists countries that are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change to implement adaptation strategies, strengthening climate governance through technical assistance and capacity building. As such, this AETS project put in place supports across four key areas:
1. An analysis of the NDC’s mitigation and adaptation measures, also assessing any additional gaps or needs.
2. An Action Plan for NDC implementation based on a review of its initial targets (from 2015) and subsequent actions, as well as recommendations for the mainstreaming of climate change across regulatory and legal documents.
3. Capacity building activities for stakeholders involved in NDC monitoring, for example, by developing a domestic monitoring, reporting, and verification framework and establishing a carbon footprint assessment mechanism for implemented measures.
4. A communications plan to raise awareness about the NDC process, Paris Agreement, and the activities of the UNFCCC.

If you would like to learn more about the challenges facing Mauritius, or the role of NDCs in tackling the climate crisis, take a look at the following links:
Reducing climate change and disaster risk in Mauritius (UN Environment Programme)
What are NDCs and why are they important? (UN Development Programme)
Mauritius’ updated NDC (October 2021)