Towards an Implementation Pathway for the Africa Group under the Architecture of the Paris Agreement, UNFCCC

Joanna Patouris, 2017
Vol. 23 No. 20 ISSN 1702-3548 (online)


The Paris Agreement adopted in December 2015 is the result of several years of rigorous efforts and negotiations towards an ambitious and inclusive climate governance structure under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The entry into force of the Paris Agreement has presented a new beginning for climate governance, opening up a pathway for intensive work towards the implementation of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). The structure of the Paris Agreement provides Parties some flexibility based on their national circumstances, to ensure that all Parties actively contribute to the climate effort. Along with provisions of flexibility, the Paris Agreement introduces reporting structures so that NDCs are to be scrutinized and justified in regular intervals through a process known as the Global Stocktake. The structure of the NDCs and architecture of the Paris Agreement places the effectiveness of climate policy in the hands of all Parties. Of concern to developing countries and particularly the Africa Group, is how adaptation can be balanced with mitigation in the implementation of NDCs. Achieving such a balance is important for the Africa Group as adaptation is linked to national development priorities. This Major Research Paper (MRP) attempts to make progress on the work necessary to balance adaptation with mitigation in the implementation of NDCs. The MRP explores the Means of Implementation (MOI) under the architecture of the Paris Agreement with a strong focus on adaptation, through the perspective of the Africa Group and applies these findings to a case study on the Kingdom of Swaziland. The MRP explores the role of MOIs, including its opportunities and barriers in supporting a balance between adaptation and mitigation, in the hopes that developing countries will no longer have to prioritize adaptation over mitigation. Following an in-depth exploration of the MOIs, the MRP explores the potential of adaptation reporting for alleviating some of the identified barriers and for progressing towards a balanced NDC implementation pathway. The MRP concludes by identifying the opportune moment for the Africa Group in leading Parties towards a more balanced NDC implementation pathway.