Lebanon is in the process of updating its climate action plan for the Paris Agreement – also known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) – which is slated to be submitted in 2020. Since the submission of the first climate commitment in 2015, a lot has been learned about the benefits of having a comprehensive climate target and stakeholder engagement: indeed, one of the most important realizations that can incentivize stakeholders to step up NDC implementation are the synergies we can harness with other conventions and agendas. The most cross-cutting item is undoubtedly the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Climate action is an SDG in itself – SDG 13-, and climate action co-benefits other SDGs in different degrees of intensity. In the same way, achieving some SDGs such as affordable and clean energy and sustainable cities will positively impact climate action.
Lebanon has a 70+ member SDG committee with thematic groups who are mandated to streamline sustainable development in institutions and achieve the SDGs. As currently both, the set-up of the thematic groups and a gaps-and-needs-analysis are in the works, we realized this to be an ideal time to synchronize both NDC and SDG implementation and reporting. The goal is to avoid duplication of efforts, request targeted support and enhance delivery through the identification and formalization of the common entry points for joint NDC and SDG implementation.
Customizing the methodology for Lebanon
The first step is to demonstrate that links between Lebanon's climate goals and the different SDG targets and sub-targets exist. Since the NDC was drafted based on climate-relevant sectoral strategies, the decision was to start the linkage exercise at the sector plan level for both mitigation and adaptation. We used the SCAN (SDG & Climate Action Nexus) tool to conduct this analysis. The tool provides high-level guidance on how climate actions can impact the achievement of the SDGs. It also includes a classification method to break down climate actions to analyze their level of linkage by sector, category, mitigation or adaptation action, and analyzes the positive or negative impacts.
Lebanon plans to analyze strategies for the energy, transport, waste, agriculture, forestry, water and biodiversity sectors, by linking the actions and sub-actions to a specific category and therefore to an SDG. We started by testing the tool with the energy efficiency strategy and its numerous sub-measures. Initial results show that improving energy efficiency in the building sector contributes to a reduction in air pollution and improvement of mental health due to decreased urban heat island effect, reduction in energy poverty due to improved affordability, and reduction in water use for energy generation. It was evident that the energy efficiency plan positively contributes to the SDGs, especially decent work and economic growth. This conclusion also leads us to believe that the strategy’s indicators used to monitor energy performance and greenhouse gas reductions, can also inform SDG achievement. Those results greatly help us in shaping the discussion with stakeholders to link the two portfolios.
However, some extra steps will need to be performed to render the SDG linkages relevant in Lebanon’s context, and rank them by order of impact. Some linkages are more relevant than others for our country and the tool does not prioritize to make this relevance visible. The description of the SCAN tool does note that national circumstances will greatly influence the magnitude and direction of the linkages. To illustrate this with another example, the analysis of the agriculture strategy using the SCAN tool for adaptation has shown that the categories are not as comprehensive as mitigation which sometimes leads to missed linkages with SDGs. Lebanon is therefore analyzing the preliminary results, and adding to the tool in terms of categories and linkages. Once the assessment is complete, focused meetings with sectoral experts will be conducted to validate linkages, and inquire about reporting processes.
Expected impacts on climate and development planning
The NDC-SDG synchronization will lead to an enhanced inclusion of sustainable development concepts in the NDC update to ensure a more comprehensive and inclusive approach to combating climate change. For instance, the gender aspect of climate action will be a priority in the updated pledge, as well as decent work and economic growth. Moreover, once the linkages with the different sectoral strategies are identified, a re-prioritization of the NDC mitigation and adaptation policies will be conducted by factoring in sustainable development benefits since it is important to focus on policies that heavily contribute to both agendas.
Furthermore, when important linkages between an action and an SDG are missing in a certain sectoral strategy, the plan is to draft recommendations for that particular institution to include the important SDG linkages in the next iteration of their sectoral plans. In a similar fashion, an assessment of other government strategies such as youth and economic development, which are at the forefront of sustainable development, will be conducted to mainstream climate change aspects, where relevant.
Institutionalizing the SDGs and NDC in tandem
Once the linkages are agreed upon among the different institutions and have been adopted by the SDG committee, respective reporting mechanisms will be linked. The exercise of customizing SDG indicators for Lebanon has not taken place yet, but some recommendations from already available sectoral indicators can be taken up to track SDG achievement. If the same institution is going to have to report the same indicator to track NDC progress and SDG progress, where indicators exist, the institutional arrangements needs to be in sync. Therefore, recommendations for entry points will be provided to key ministries and the SDG committee to avoid duplication of efforts on reporting.
To conclude, what lies ahead is not that simple – we will replicate the analysis for the remaining NDC policies (both mitigation and adaptation), followed by a stakeholder consultation for validation, and most importantly use the results to inform the NDC 2020 update.
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