The Netherlands Climate Assistance Programme (NCAP)

Submitted by Sukaina Bharwani | published 25th Mar 2011 | last updated 5th Jan 2023

Countries in the NCAP Programme. See links under NCAP Phase 2 to access individual case studies

The question of whether climate change will happen has been replaced with even more sobering questions: how great will the change be, and how severe its impacts? The situation is grave, and yet these are ultimately anthropogenic problems, to which there exist and are emerging anthropogenic solutions. The challenge lies in their timely realization through processes such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and capacity strengthening opportunities such as the Netherlands Climate Assistance Programme (NCAP).

Likely climate change impacts during this time include significant shifts in temperature and precipitation patterns leading to greater humidity in some areas and aridity in others, high sea level rise in certain regions, and increases in the occurrence and severity of extreme events such as storms, drought and flooding. Adaptation to these adverse impacts of climate change has therefore become a priority.

In an ironic twist, the countries least responsible for climate change (the developing countries) are largely those most exposed to its impacts. The irony bites deeper still in that climate change is likely to have the greatest impact on the poorest people within those countries - those already exposed to an array of potential shocks and least able to recover in the aftermath.

Developing countries have a particular position within the international climate negotiations as parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Under the UNFCCC they are obliged to produce National Communications and an action plan for the implementation of the convention. The raison d'etre of the NCAP is the shortfall in many developing countries to implement these requirements. These countries often require external technical and/or financial assistance to reach a qualitatively good preparation, formulation, implementation and evaluation of national climate policy. NCAP has been created to address this problem by assisting a number of developing countries to become self-supporting in formulating climate policy.

The first phase of the Netherlands Climate Change Studies Assistance Programme (NCCSAP) began in 1996, and is an important example of Netherlands bilateral cooperation. During the first phase, NCCSAP supported a group of 13 non-Annex 1 countries to enhance their capacity to formulate and implement climate change national policies to fulfil their commitments to UNFCCC. NCCSAP assisted in preparing national reports, in comparing national situations in different contexts, and contributed to an overall learning process by all concerned parties, including The Netherlands.

The key thematic lesson from the first phase of the NCCSAP is that vulnerability and adaptation analysis cannot be driven solely by climate change modelling. Livelihood vulnerability must be given at least as much emphasis as biophysical vulnerability, not least because they are interdependent.

The book Climate Change in Developing Countries provides a comprehensive information source on The Netherlands Climatic Change Studies Assistance Programme (NCCSAP) (now NCAP) and describes the achievements and experiences in the countries involved, i.e., Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Egypt, Ghana, Kazakhstan, Mali, Mongolia, Senegal, Suriname, Vietnam, Yemen and Zimbabwe. This book also aims to provide valuable input to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climatic Change Fourth Assessment Report. Four sections are included in the book. The first section provides a general introduction to the NCCSAP and presents summaries of the methodologies used in the studies. Section 2 is the core of the book wherein representatives of the countries have summarized one of their studies and reflected on the strengths and weaknesses of the approach they adopted. The third section presents a cross-country synthesis for each of the sectors assessed in the countries. It also provides a cross-country analysis of the National Communications. The last section evaluates the activities in the programme in terms of content and process. Topics addressed include capacity building in the participating countries, coordination and programme management, scientific quality of studies, policy relevance of activities, contribution to climate policy development, contribution to awareness raising, donor activities and policy, etc. Experiences and lessons learned are identified and discussed. Furthermore, recommendations for future activities are discussed.  

NCAP Phase 2

The second phase of the NCCSAP began in March 2003 (re-named NCAP in 2005), including eight countries involved in the first phase and six further countries:

NCAP Countries: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Bolivia, Colombia, Ghana, Guatemala, Mali, Mongolia, Mozambique, Senegal, Suriname, Tanzania and Vietnam and Yemen

As in the first phase, the general aim of the second phase is to support these countries in their efforts to prepare, formulate, implement, and evaluate their policy in relation to climate change.

The NCAP BOOK, titled The Adaptation Continuum: Groundwork for the Future, was launched at the COP15 in Copenhagen, as part of the closing event of the NCAP where the Ministry of the Environment of The Netherlands and partners of the project were invited. Below are synthesis documents produced by the NCAP partners and technical assistance team that are included in Chapter 2 of the Book. These documents highlight main findings of the country projects and emphasize lessons learned and strategic recommendations.


NCAP synthesis

We have produced summaries of the methodologies, key findings and lessons learned for each country based on the final country synthesis reports (see links to pdf versions in right column). You can also read about the general lessons learned from the project that are captured in the NCAP BOOK The Adaptation Continuum: Groundwork for the Future.

NCAP also investigated the possible use of MDG style 'targets for adaptation', through research in Bolivia, Mongolia and Bangladesh. For more information on this initiative see the Adaptation Targets pages.