Belize’s partnership with ICAT and UNEP Copenhagen Climate Centre began in 2019 and aimed to address gaps and barriers that were hindering climate change data capture and monitoring. In turn, this affected Belize’s ability to effectively track its commitments made under the Paris Agreement and ultimately, its ability to meet its reporting requirements.
The country’s first Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) in 2015 outlined mitigation opportunities across multiple sectors. However, at the time, ways to measure and track NDC progress were lacking, with no comprehensive measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) framework in place. Tracking NDC implementation is essential to manage progress and eventually monitor the achievement of targets. It provides a key basis for preparing NDC updates when they are due. The development of a national MRV framework was a key focus of the ICAT project.
Developing country-specific indicators to capture and track activities and targets
Determining what to track was the first step in developing an MRV system. Ensuring the data was relevant for national policy-making was achieved by integrating both greenhouse gas and non-greenhouse gas indicators. This creates links between systems and sectors, and between climate action and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
Providing this level of depth when developing indicators goes beyond the requirements laid out in the Paris Agreement’s Modalities, Procedures and Guidelines (MPGs), which outline what is expected of countries to report under the Paris Agreement. While reporting on greenhouse gas indicators is required, identifying and reporting on non-greenhouse gas impacts (such as associated economic, social and environmental impacts of activities) is optional. These latter indicators provided decision makers with additional information that was relevant for national development, and was therefore important to the prioritization and assessment of sustainable development contributions of climate policies.
“Sometimes getting data goes beyond obligations. Creating a set of country-specific indicators that include both GHG and non-GHG impacts has created a sense of national ownership and encourages a virtuous loop, whereby data collection is motivated by its potential relevance for policy making,”
– Dr Lennox Gladden, Chief Climate Change Officer, National Climate Change Office of Belize.
From country-specific indicators to a comprehensive national MRV system
As noted by Dr Henning Wuester, ICAT Director: “Identifying sustainable development impacts of climate policies is critical for engaging stakeholders from various sectors and levels of government. These are stakeholders that need to be engaged in the implementation of a country’s NDC and should be closely integrated in efforts to track progress.”
The development of indicators for Belize involved extensive stakeholder engagement and incorporated a review of existing sectoral MRV processes to identify gaps and determine synergies between sectors. For non-greenhouse gas indicators, this also included an assessment of agroforestry policies using ICAT’s sustainable development and transformational change policy assessment guides to better understand their contribution to national mitigation and sustainable development targets. This process helped to ensure that the development of a national MRV system for the country was built on existing structures, processes and institutional arrangements, and included suggestions for how these could be improved or better integrated moving forward.
The ICAT project in Belize came to a close with a training workshop where the system was validated by sector leads.
The project has played a key role in establishing formalized frameworks for transparency contributing to a draft Climate Change Bill for an act to establish the Department of Climate Change, set out the responsibilities and authority of the National Climate Change Committee; provide for the administration of all Climate Change policies and initiatives; and to regulate such other matters connected with or incidental to Climate Change in Belize.
“We saw an opportunity to assist Belize in assigning clear roles and responsibilities for climate change MRV between national institutions, developing a centralized repository for climate change data and information, and strengthening tools and methods to perform impact assessment of climate change policies,” noted Federico Canu, project lead at the UNEP-Copenhagen Climate Centre, technical implementing partner for the ICAT Belize project.
“The work plan for the ICAT project was based on these goals.”