Alignment to Advance Climate-Resilient Development | Getting Started on Alignment

Submitted by Cesar Henrique ... 12th March 2019 17:21
Mapping the agendas and in-country policy processes

Figure 1. Mapping the agendas and in-country policy processes

Summary

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Agreement and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) share objectives related to climate-resilient development. As countries make progress on defining how they will contribute to these agendas, there are considerable opportunities to increase coherence, efficiency and effectiveness through alignment of policy processes. The first brief in this series focused on defining alignment and presenting the rationale for aligning these different, yet related, processes. Recognizing that a number of factors will influence how, when and to what degree alignment can be achieved in a particular country context, it introduced a continuum of approaches to alignment, ranging from informal to systematic. 

This brief* builds on this introduction and provides a concise overview of the practical considerations associated with initiating alignment of policy processes toward climate-resilient development, complementing other more detailed guidance. The brief explores how the different agendas and policy processes relate to each other and to a country’s national development planning processes. It describes the enabling factors for alignment and discusses how alignment objectives can be defined. Further, the brief outlines key questions that can help to identify entry points for alignment, recognizing that different approaches to alignment may be relevant and feasible in specific contexts and at particular points in time. 

*Download the full brief (Overview Brief 2) from the right-hand column. Overview brief 1 of this series (an introductory text) is available to download under Further Resources, below. A short overview of the key messages is provided below.

Relationships Between the Different Policy Processes

To get started on alignment, it is helpful to first map out the relationships between the different global agendas and policy processes. Global agendas present current collective goals and/or targets that participating countries are expected to work toward. A number of different policy processes in the countries are linked to these agendas and can be differentiated as follows:

  • National development visions, which outline the overarching ambitions for country development processes, providing a foundation for all of the other policy processes.
  • National commitments to international agendas, which establish concrete targets for countries to achieve, in the context of their development vision, to contribute to international agendas. These include national Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) targets, Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and national commitments to the Sendai Framework targets.
  • Operational vehicles, which are plans or strategies that elaborate how national commitments will be achieved. These include overarching development plans, as well as plans developed for specific sectors or by sub-national authorities. National Adaptation Plan (NAP) processes and national DRR strategies are also operational vehicles. 

Figure 1 presents the relationships between the global agendas and the different types of policy processes described above. It incorporates policy processes that have emerged in response to the international agendas (such as NDCs, which outline commitments to the goals of the Paris Agreement), as well as core policy processes that were in place before the international agendas were agreed (for example, most countries already had some form of national development plan in place before the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was established). As shown in the figure, there are linkages from the operational vehicles to the international agendas, via the national commitments, which present opportunities for alignment of policy processes within a particular agenda. This involves ensuring that operational vehicles support the achievement of commitments to international agendas. Likewise, there are linkages between the different policy processes at the same level, which present opportunities for alignment across the agendas. In this case, it is about ensuring that policy processes are mutually supportive and are not undertaken in isolation of one another.

It must be emphasized that this is by no means a linear process; in reality, the various policy processes are unfolding concurrently, with different timelines, outputs and actors involved. In a particular country, understanding the relationships between the different policy processes provides a basis for defining objectives and determining entry points for alignment, as described in greater detail in the brief.

From a climate-resilient development point of view, the NAP process represents an important connecting point, as it explicitly aims to integrate climate change adaptation in relevant development policies, plans and initiatives. This can serve to meet commitments under Agenda 2030 and the Sendai Framework, as well as the Paris Agreement. Further, as an iterative process, it may present opportunities to increase alignment at different stages.  

Key Messages

  • As countries establish national commitments to global agendas and outline plans and strategies for climate-resilient development, considerable opportunities exist to pursue alignment of these policy processes.
  • Alignment of country-level policy processes under global agendas can occur within a particular agenda (for example, by aligning processes at different levels) or across agendas, by ensuring that related policy processes are mutually supportive.
  • As the NAP process is iterative and explicitly aims to integrate climate change adaptation in development processes across sectors and levels, it provides important opportunities to advance climate-resilient development, thereby contributing to objectives under multiple agendas.
  • Institutional arrangements, capacity development and information sharing are key enablers for alignment.

Further resources