Moving Towards the Transparency Framework under the Paris Agreement

Scenes of flooding and storms can show us just how much weather and climate affects our lives. Climate change threatens our ability to ensure global food security, eradicate poverty and achieve sustainable development. The global response to climate change today will determine how we feed future generations tomorrow.

To combat climate change and its impacts, the Paris Agreement was signed by 195 countries representing their commitment to limit the rise of the global average temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius. To reach this goal, each country has developed individual climate commitments, known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). But how can countries ensure everyone is contributing to the common cause in a fair and transparent way?

In order to build confidence in the process, the Paris Agreement includes a key element referred to as the Enhanced Transparency Framework (ETF) for action and support. Designed to promote transparency and mutual trust, the framework is based on existing transparency arrangements set up under the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), commonly known as Measurement, Reporting and Verification (MRV) framework.

Transparency of action refers to information each country has to provide on a regular basis in order to track the progress of implementing NDCs, national greenhouse gas inventory reports and information related to climate change impacts and adaptation.​ Transparency of support refers to clarity on the support provided and received for mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology development and transfer and capacity-building. Developed countries should provide information on the support they have provided, while developing countries should provide information on support required and received. For many countries, capacity-building support is a vital, yet complex task in the implementation these new requirements.

With the objective of recognizing and resolving the reporting burden in many countries, the Katowice Climate package was approved during the Conference of the Parties to UNFCCC (COP24) in December, 2018. The package provides further guidance on how to make the Paris Agreement operational on topics including NDCs and adaptation.

More specifically, the transparency framework is guided by the Modalities, procedures and guidelines (MPGs), which stipulates that all countries (except Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developed States) are required to submit reports and information every two years. At the same time, the current international assessments and reviews and the international consultation and analysis process will be replaced by technical expert reviews and facilitative multilateral consideration of progress on support, implementation and achievement of NDCs. These changes provide clarity on the world’s collective progress and promote ambition. However, many developing countries often lack capacity and access to reliable data to report on their climate achivements.

In September, 2016, the Capacity-building Initiative for Transparency (CBIT) trust fund was established under the Global Environment Facility (GEF) aiming to build institutional and technical capacities to implement the Enhanced Transparency Framework as a priority reporting-related need.

As of today, 48 of the 155 non-annex I Parties (31 percent) have received support for national CBIT projects and 4 global projects (GEF, 2019).

3rd technical workshops on CBIT implementation in Rome (©FAO)

One of the global projects is the FAO/GEF project, Building global capacity to increase transparency in the forest sector (CBIT-Forest), aimed at strengthening capacities on forest-related data collection and the analysis and dissemination process to meet the transparency framework requirements. To improve access to forest-related data, the FAO Global Forest Resources Assessment (FRA) reporting platform will be upgraded. The project will also develop a set of knowledge and training materials on topics related to the Enhanced Transparency Framework in the forest sector and share best practices and case studies on successful, transparency-related activities. This will complement the global and country support on National Forest Monitoring and REDD+ and provide much needed capacity building on the ETF with respect to forests.

Looking ahead, CBIT calls for greater collaboration and coordination between relevant institutions at the national level and between the different stakeholders at the international level. To ensure transparency around climate commitments, the CBIT coordination platform is dedicated to supporting this process. Such efforts will not only support countries in meeting and measuring their NDC goals, but they will also build trust and transparency which are crucial in tackling climate change and shaping the global course of action toward prosperity and well-being for all.

Useful links:

FAO’s work climate change 2018 (in Spanish, French)

FAO’s infographic booklet on MRV work (in Spanish, French)

Turning Nationally Determined Contributions into actions

FAO’s global INDC analysis (in Spanish)

FAO’s technical paper on REDD+ 2017, update 2018

FAO’s Voluntary Guidelines on National Forest Monitoring (in Spanish, French)

FAO’s National Forest Monitoring Systems for REDD+ (in Spanish)

FAO’s Ten years of capacity development on national forest monitoring for REDD+;

Much achieved yet more to do

More information in the UNFCCC MRV handbook here

More information on Katowice climate package available on UNFCCC web page here

A mapping of Katowice decisions is available here (and in Spanish)


Rocío D. Cóndor-Golec

MRV/ETF expert

REDD+/NFM cluster

Forestry Department, FAO

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