Some 67 experts from 48 countries came together as part of UN Climate Change’s June Momentum initiative to take stock and brainstorm on how to improve the quality, efficiency and consistency of the reviews of countries’ climate policy and action reports.
This comes as countries prepare to transition to more stringent climate policy and action reporting and review requirements under the Paris Agreement’s Enhanced Transparency Framework (ETF).
Developed countries currently report on their climate actions and policies every two years. These Biennial Reports are then reviewed by experts as an important part of the current UNFCCC Transparency Framework for transparency on countries’ climate actions and support.
Reviews showcase what countries are doing to mitigate their greenhouse gas emissions, reach their 2020 emission reduction targets, and provide financial, technological and capacity building support to others. Some countries are already looking beyond 2020, reporting on the policies and measures they are putting in place to achieve future targets.
By providing accurate data and information on the implementation of climate policy, reporting provides critical updates on progress achieved to date, and highlights where further action is needed. In turn, expert review and analysis of country reports shines a light on best practice, identifies areas for improvement, and as a result, builds trust and confidence in the reporting and review system.
This system of reporting and review has laid a solid foundation for the new ETF under the Paris Agreement.
Assessing the reviews conducted in 2020, experts agreed to a number of revisions to the Review Practice Guidance (RPG), a tool which guides reviewers through complex review issues and aims to enhance the consistency across review reports.
The facilitator of one of the sessions, Maria Gutierrez from Mexico noted: “The RPG is based on our collective experience. Personally, I find it useful when we encounter difficult issues.” Diana Harutunyan from Armenia, agreed, noting that guidance in such cases can be extremely important in “minimizing the subjectivity of judgement” in the review process.
The two-day online expert meeting highlighted lessons learned from the existing review and technical analysis system as key building blocks for the ETF.
Given that lead reviewers will play a key role in shaping the new reviews under the ETF, UN Climate Change presented the draft ETF reference manual.
This evolving work explains the relevant decisions and provides an overview of how the current systems will transition to the ETF and how it will link to other processes of the Paris Agreement, such as the Global Stocktake under Article 14, and the mechanism to facilitate implementation and promote compliance under Article 15.
The manual was welcomed by participants, with Amit Garg, from India noting that it provided “useful tools that could be used going forward.”
The meeting also took the opportunity to celebrate the contribution of the lead reviewers in 2020, in particular their support of the remote reviews held in response to the global pandemic.
The secretariat thanked all those who have supported the process, acknowledging all those involved in the newly dedicated “hall of fame” website. The annual awards were presented to those who had shown exceptional leadership, team spirit, professionalism, timeliness, commitment, and lifetime achievement.
Award-winner Eric de Brabanter noted: “The review process is very important for small countries like Luxembourg with limited resources when it comes to drafting reports. One always returns from the reviews with good ideas on reporting systems, methods, and policies and measures, etc., that you can consider when you come back.”
As the ETF takes form in the coming years, both experienced and new reviewers will be in high demand to support the growing number and frequency of reviews. This will be a valuable opportunity for experienced reviewers to transfer their knowledge and expertise to new reviewers.
Ensuring balanced views in terms of review experts’ gender, geographic representation, and areas of expertise is considered critical, as countries prepare to transition to a new, universal review processes as part of the ETF. New reviewers are always welcomed.
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