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Aligning Nationally Determined Contributions and Sustainable Development Goals

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Introduction

The 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement put forth an innovative and complementary framework for accelerating action and achieving ambitious sustainable development objectives.
Under the 2030 Agenda, a series of 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) have been agreed that are to be universally achieved. Under the Paris Agreement countries are expected to submit a Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) which outlines their commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and strengthen resilience to climate change. Although SDGs are not legally binding, governments are expected to establish national frameworks to achieve the goals. The SDGs are integrated and indivisible, balancing economic, social, and environmental dimensions of sustainable development, whilst the Paris Agreement aligns with the 2030 Agenda and demands urgent climate action. As we move forward with implementation of these two agreements we must transform them into concrete action and tangible results.

At the national level, the two processes have largely operated in silos. Different institutional, policy and administrative processes, different actors, and different datasets have been utilized to translate these global agreements into national actions. The SDGs localization processes (i.e. to develop national strategies to achieve SDGs) and NDC Implementation Plans are being devised in parallel -- with limited, if any, communication or interface between the two.

The alignment of these two agendas is imperative to reduce duplication and increase efficiency - maximizing resources, technical capacity, information, and expertise sharing. As presented in the recent working paper by the World Resources Institute,1 many of the climate actions highlighted in the NDCs also have the potential to generate mutual benefits across the 17 SDGs. Similarly, actions defined to meet SDG targets have the potential to contribute towards achieving NDC commitments. The two agendas are interlinked and aligning their implementation provides a great opportunity to accelerate progress across both agreements.

Nonetheless, while many countries recognize the need for aligning the two agendas, the question remains: how should this be done?

UNDP has unique experience supporting countries to develop Intended NDCs (INDCs), leading global public consultations to define SDGs, and most recently to support governments in designing and implementing NDC and SDG roadmaps to meet these commitments. Building on this experience across a range of countries and development contexts, nine entry points have been identified as critical for fostering greater complementarity between NDCs and SDGs. These nine entry points are presented here, along with some initial questions and considerations to start the alignment process. Examples from UNDP’s experience in countries are also provided to illustrate how these entry points translate in a country context.