By Megan Rowling
BARCELONA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - For developing countries seeking to turn their national climate action plans into reality, help will soon be at hand in the form of a support service announced by the German government and the U.S.-based World Resources Institute this week.
The global partnership, open to all countries, aims to provide developing states with the expertise they need to transform their targets to reduce planet-warming emissions into concrete strategies and measures.
Close to 190 countries have submitted plans to tackle climate change over the next 15 years - known as "intended nationally determined contributions" (INDCs) - under a new U.N. agreement reached in Paris in December.
Now, with the prospect of that deal coming into force earlier than expected - potentially this year or next - the pressure is on to work out how to put country pledges into practice.
"We now have to achieve the targets we have set ourselves and to breathe life into the Paris Agreement," said German Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks in a statement
"We are ready to support developing countries in tackling this challenge and to share our experience with them. This should also give our partner countries new opportunities for development," she added.
The German government said one of the main tasks of the initiative would be to organize quick access to "tailor-made advice" for developing countries, drawing on know-how and technical assistance from a range of organizations and experts.
The partnership - which will have offices in Washington and Bonn, funded by Germany - will also offer a contact point for climate-related questions, such as on expanding the use of renewable energies, sustainable urban development or climate-resilient agriculture.
Developing nations, donor governments, international institutions and non-governmental organizations will participate, sharing and coordinating knowledge and support.
CONNECTING THE DOTS
Pankaj Bhatia, acting director of the climate program at the World Resources Institute, said many countries had put forward "excellent" climate action plans, but lacked the skills and resources to roll them out.
"They need to turn these INDCs into implementation roadmaps and that in itself is going to be an important capacity-building need," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Many of the high-level goals set out in each country's plan apply across the economy, so the task now is to work out how to split up and deliver emissions reductions from different sectors, including energy, transport, agriculture and forestry, Bhatia added.
Yet while developing countries face big challenges, many schemes have been set up to help them, such as the Low Emission Development Strategies Global Partnership, which unites over 160 countries and international programs.
The aim of the new initiative is not to reinvent the wheel, Bhatia said, but to facilitate access for developing nations to suitable expertise and advice, as well as filling in any gaps.
"Already there are many good initiatives in place and there is a need to connect the dots; there is a need to tap into the synergies offered by these initiatives; and there is a need to avoid duplication and increase efficiency in terms of coordination between various efforts," he explained.
Jennifer Morgan, executive director of Greenpeace International who was at the Petersberg Climate Dialogue where the partnership was unveiled, said support for national climate action plans should be "as robust and quick as possible".
"INDCs have been put on the table, but the linkages between funding them and getting implementation going is still in the early stages. This is trying to kick-start that," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Germany said the partnership also aimed to bring climate and development goals closer together, and to harmonize different donor programs.
It will be officially launched at the U.N. climate conference in Marrakesh in November.
(Reporting by Megan Rowling; editing by Laurie Goering. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)