By switching to dark mode you can reduce the energy consumption of our digital service.

Lessons Learned from Preparing Intended Nationally Determined Contributions

This paper summarises key learnings that emerged from working with a range of expert organisations to provide technical assistance to nine developing countries to prepare their INDCs.
Kevin Mercer


CDKN has been working with a range of expert organisations to provide technical assistance to nine developing countries as they prepare their INDCs for submission to the UNFCCC by October 2015. This Working Paper summarises some of the key learning points that have emerged from this diverse experience. This Working Paper should be seen as a companion volume to CDKN’s ‘Guide to INDCs’ (2015), which provides a practical example of how an INDC could be structured and potential key elements and content. Each section cross-references the relevant text from the Lima Call to Climate Action and other relevant guidance, suggests data sources and provides illustrative examples of the type of content and narrative that Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States might include.

Key messages

  1. Consider INDCs as statements of political ambition, both domestically and internationally
  2. Have a clear vision for the structure and content from the outset
  3. Build on existing policies, with targeted use of new analysis to fill knowledge gaps
  4. Build broad-based support across economic sectors through innovative approaches to consultation
  5. Make plans for effective implementation now, and consider how international support, finance and other mechanisms may adjust ambitions after 2015
INDCs are due to be submitted at COP21 in December 2015, but this will not be the end of their story. Each INDC should contain ‘intended’ contributions for post-2020, typically including actions stretching 10 or 15 years into the future. Many things will change during this period, including countries’ capacity to carry out further analysis and identify additional actions on climate change. INDCs, like other plans, are being produced in a context of uncertainty over future climate impacts, as well as uncertainty over the availability of international finance and other support. So countries should not expect their INDC to include every detail of the actions they hope to take long into the future, or related implementation plans. Rather, INDCs can include countries’ intentions to build on existing planning processes, such as the development of comprehensive national climate change plans, and requests for support to undertake such work. As INDCs potentially will become NDCs (Nationally Determined Contributions) after COP21, the implementation phase will be useful in setting a benchmark for national development indicators, as well as demonstrating the feasibility and achievability of the contributions submitted. Combined with regular reviews and the ‘ratcheting up’ of ambition, this practical experience of implementation will support progress towards a pathway that limits the world to warming of 2ºC or less.

Suggested citation:

Chris Dodwell, Emelia Holdaway, Kiran Sura and Helen Picot. 2015. WORKING PAPER: Supporting ambitious Intended Nationally Determined Contributions: Lessons learned from developing countries. Ricardo-AEA and the Climate and Development Knowledge Network.

Related resources

Add your project

Exchange your climate change adaptation projects and lessons learned with the global community.