Nepal’s strategic engagement in COP26

Nepal is seeking easy and adequate access to climate finance, which becomes critical for the implementation of ambition and Nepal seeks the hands of all countries to march ahead for the greener journey together

KATHMANDU: Nepal is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change, with frequent flash floods, glacial outbursts, droughts, landslides, heat waves, cold spell, and unpredictable rainfall.

An increase in these climate impacts in recent years already threatens Nepal’s development efforts, lives and livelihoods, particularly of women and marginalized groups.

The Government of Nepal is a party to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and has ratified the Paris Agreement that was adopted during its 21st session. Nepal, as a Least Developed Country (LDC), has a high stake in the outcome of the UNFCCC’s negotiations process.

The Government of Nepal has been actively participating in the negotiation process of each Conference of Parties (COP) and communicating its challenges and opportunities related to climate change to the world.

In accordance with the UNFCCC’s provision, Nepal has taken various initiatives in devising appropriate policies, legal instruments, programs, and institutional and financial arrangements toward climate resilience.

Nepal has recently endorsed: National Climate Change Policy 2019; Environment Protection Act 2019 and Regulations 2020; National Framework for Local Adaptation Plan of Action 2019; Climate Resilient Planning and Budgeting Guidelines 2020; Gender and Social Inclusion (GESI) and Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan 2020; and submitted its second Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) in 2020 as a part of the Paris Agreement.

Starting a greener journey together

Nepal’s second NDC is ambitious and estimated to cost US$28.4 billion, of which Nepal can only manage US$3.4 billion of from its own financial resources. Furthermore, this estimate does not include the costs of adaptation components and the cost of policies, measures, and actions.

In 2021, Nepal plans to communicate its Third National Communication Report, NDC implementation plan/roadmap, National Vulnerability and Risk Assessment, National Adaptation Plan (NAP), and Long-Term Low Greenhouse Gases Emission Development Strategy 2050.

Nepal has demonstrated strong leadership in taking localized climate action and inviting development partners to be part of this journey, recognizing that the participation of all relevant stakeholders is very crucial to contribute towards the implementation of the National Climate Change Policy and action plans.

On 12 December 2020, during the Global Climate Ambition Summit, the Honorable Prime Minister of Nepal highlighted that:

Nepal is seeking easy and adequate access to climate finance, which becomes critical for the implementation of ambition and Nepal seeks the hands of all countries to march ahead for the greener journey together.

The United Kingdom Government is hosting the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow in November 2021, where the Government of Nepal proactively aims to engage more strategically and effectively at the national and international level to raise awareness of the needs and priorities of the country.

Notably, these engagements include the temperature goals of the Paris Agreement, climate finance needed for rolling out of its national and international commitments, and the mountain agenda.

The mountain agenda is critical for Nepal, as glacier melting is not only affecting the livelihoods of millions of people who benefit from the ecosystems of mountains, but it is also threatening the future of humanity by making living conditions more challenging.

Therefore, Nepal has an unprecedented opportunity to ensure its heightened international profile on climate change and also leverage and mainstream non-traditional and low-carbon financing.

It is also important to ensure that UNFCCC policies and funding instruments will benefit Nepal. The Government of Nepal aspires to engage national and international partners to be able to strengthen Nepal’s participation in the COP26 in a variety of events, communications, and knowledge management initiatives.

In this regard, the Ministry of Forests and Environment (MoFE) has prepared a UNFCCC COP26 roadmap to systematically engage relevant government institutions and development partners in the process.

Key pillars of the roadmap

Nepal seeks to have strong leadership and representation in the COP26 and bring forward different agendas, including loss and damage, climate finance, adaptation and resilience, enhanced transparency framework, and the mountain agenda.

Positioning itself strongly, Nepal seeks to engage in negotiations, showcase successes and innovation, and secure climate finance to meet its national adaptation and mitigation targets.

MoFE organized initial consultations in 2020, engaging wider national stakeholders represented by government, non-government, and development partners to understand their interests and contributions, and to extend partnerships.

The inputs were received to organize strategic events, communications, and knowledge management initiatives, where the Government of Nepal will take the lead in collaborating with relevant national and international development partners.

Furthermore, inputs received were classified into the following four broad areas of engagement:

1. Showcasing Nepal’s climate change agenda in COP26

Nepal’s commitment as per the Paris Agreement:

Nepal will highlight its policy landscape and programmatic interventions, including forthcoming documents in 2021: Third National Communication, National Adaptation Plan, adaptation communication, National Climate Vulnerability and Risk Assessment, NDC implementation roadmap, and 2050 Long-Term Strategy.

Knowledge management and evidence generation:

Nepal will prepare to strongly position itself for negotiations in COP26 through knowledge management and evidence generation of different best practices, innovations, and lessons learned in the areas of nature-based solutions, energy transitions, adaptation and resilience, disaster risk management, and green recovery, etc. Nepal aims to demonstrate strong leadership on climate action, showcase innovation and successes, and highlight investment needs and priorities for climate action.

Messaging and Communication:

Nepal intends to take forward the mountain agenda to the center stage and represent key issues with a progressive voice in the LDC group and influence regional players to be more ambitious on climate action. Nepal also intends to communicate impacts and best practices, including bringing forward the voices of vulnerable communities and marginalized groups through audio, visual, and print media by engaging with journalists.

With this, Nepal aims to ensure recognition for bilateral and multilateral partnerships to share the common positions and commitment to a highly ambitious outcome.

2. Enhancing partnerships and dialogues on leaving no one behind

Nepal intends to translate the ‘leaving-no-one-behind’ agenda into practice. Representation and engagement by all important stakeholders to raise their voices on climate agenda by youth, women, the private sector, indigenous communities, CSOs, local governments, parliamentarians, and political parties are important to enhance partnerships and dialogues.

Identifying champions for advocating challenges and opportunities in COP26 and engaging vulnerable and marginalized communities to raise and bring forth their issues through public discussions are top priorities of this roadmap.

Nepal will also engage at the regional level, especially with Hindu Kush Himalayan region, to take the mountain agenda forward.

Organize events:

This includes celebrating various important theme days, highlighting climate agendas, and holding discussions, dialogues, conferences, panel discussions, and high-level events (bilateral and multilateral) regularly to showcase Nepal’s climate agenda.

Engaging and mobilizing with local and provincial governments:

The sub-national engagement in the process should be taken into highest consideration to raise awareness and reflect the issues in COP26. In the aspiration of federalism, Nepal seeks to engage local and provincial governments to sensitize on climate change issues as well as to discuss integration and implementation of climate action at the sub-national level.

3. Defining and strengthening Nepal’s position for COP26 key thematic areas

The areas of work should be highlighted based on Nepal’s ambition of LDC graduation. Some of the proposed preliminary themes are: loss and damage; climate financing; adaptation; mitigation; means of implementation; and enhanced transparency framework. These themes will be agreed upon considering country priorities and consultations with experts.

Expert Thematic Groups:

Setting up expert thematic working groups to prepare and communicate Nepal’s position to all national and international stakeholders in a systematic manner. The groups will include experts in different themes who will organize thematic discussions to define Nepal’s position for COP26.

Preparatory positioning:

Organizing Sagarmatha Dialogue which is pending due to COVID-19 lockdown. This will help organize Nepal’s priority at the regional level and develop regional and international coalitions on agendas of mutual interest.

4. Ensuring strong representation in COP26 negotiation process

Effective negotiation and positioning:

The Government of Nepal intends to organize orientation and training sessions for delegates to ensure strong representation of Nepal in the negotiation processes at COP26.

High-level closed-door meetings:

Nepal intends to hold high-level bilateral and multilateral meetings. Nepal seeks to engage with different ministries and development partners to prepare negotiation briefs and visibility materials for these high-level meetings.

Adopting a whole-of-government approach

In delivering high-impact messages in the areas of work identified under the key pillars of the roadmap to Nepal’s strategic engagement in COP26, the Ministry of Forests and Environment, Government of Nepal will invite national and international development partners to provide their institutional support and commitments on the list of suggestive actions based on this roadmap.

Furthermore, it has also planned a series of events that will accommodate the voices of community-based organizations, women, youths, and indigenous people so that the views of climate-vulnerable people are properly reflected in the country’s roadmap to COP26.

The aim is to showcase Nepal’s climate scenario at the COP26 and seek support in the areas of climate finance, capacity building, and climate-smart technologies so that Nepal could align its developmental efforts with the goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.

The writer is Under Secretary (Technical) at the Ministry of Forests and Environment.

Arun Bhatta |
Friday December 10, 2021, 11:36:38 AM |

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