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Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) Increasingly Becoming a Force for Nature

More countries are rightly recognising nature as a climate hero, as there is no pathway to limit global warming to 1.5°C without protecting and restoring nature.

A new report from WWF has found that countries are increasingly recognising the value of nature-based solutions (NbS) in their efforts to address the climate crisis. Some 92 percent of the updated climate pledges (Nationally Determined Contributions or NDCs) assessed in the study include nature-based solutions which harness the power of nature to reduce emissions and adapt to climate impacts. 

Under the Paris Agreement on climate change, countries are expected to submit enhanced NDCs to the UN every five years. This fourth edition of NDCs - A Force for Nature? compared inclusion of nature-based solutions in the latest round of NDCs to previous pledges. As of 12th October 2021 (report cut-off date) 140 parties to the UNFCCC (including the EU – 27 member states) had submitted 114 updated or revised NDCs.

Parties to the Paris Agreement assessed in this report include major emitters and G20 nations including Australia, Argentina, the European Union, Japan, The Republic of Korea, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. 

Parties with an updated NDC assessed in this report represent 42% of global emissions and it is worth noting that there is still a big gap, both in big emitters stepping forward with targets, and in closing the gap to pursuing efforts of keeping warming to 1.5 C as the latest UNFCCC NDC Synthesis Report recently found. 

The report found: 

  • A clear increase from 82% to 92% of NDCs that included nature
    105 out of 114 (92%) of enhanced NDCs include NbS: 96 in the context of mitigation measures, 91 in the context of adaptation plans, with an overlap of 82 in both mitigation and adaptation. This reflects a positive trend compared to previous submissions. The number of NDCs that make explicit reference to NbS approaches has increased from 94 to 105 (by 12%), most of them in mitigation measures.
  • 21 more countries include quantitative targets
    Out of the 96 NDCs that include NbS for mitigation, 69 have quantified these as numerical targets, mostly for the forest sector. The comparison with previous submissions also shows a significant positive trend, with 21 additional countries including quantitative targets.
  • Significant increase in inclusion of wetlands, mangroves and oceans
    Most NDCs refer to a broad range of ecosystems, including forests, agricultural lands, mangroves, wetlands and marine ecosystems. There was a significant increase in the number of NDCs that mention wetlands, mangroves and marine ecosystems compared to previous version. 51 updated NDCs mentioned wetlands compared to 32 previous NDCs, 43 mentioned mangroves compared to 29 previous NDCs, and 60 mentioned marine ecosystems compared to 47 previously.
  • Some NDCs dropped, while additional updated NDCs included nature in national plans
    87 updated NDCs present national plans and policies in relation to the implementation of NbS, mostly for the forest sector. Overall, this is nine more than in the previous NDCs. However, ten updated NDCs dropped references to national policies for NbS that were mentioned in the previous versions, while 19 updated NDCs added specific mention of national policies for NbS where they had not earlier.
  • More than three times as many NDCs refer to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) or other global processes.
    46 NDCs refer to global processes and agreements, such as the SDGs, the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands or the United Nation Convention to Combat Desertification, in the context of NbS. This reflects a large increase compared to the previous round, with 32 additional NDCs making such references.
  • The number of NDCs explicitly referring to Indigenous peoples and other local communities grew by 88%.
    30 NDCs explicitly refer to the Indigenous peoples and local communities in relation to the development and implementation of NbS. This is an increase of 14 NDCs, which demonstrates increasing attention to their essential role in the context of NbS

NDCs are an important platform to formulate governments ambitions for strong climate action