Over the past five years, the Capacity-building Initiative for Transparency (CBIT) has helped more than 80 countries improve their ability to monitor and share their progress toward international climate goals. The improved reporting and transparency resulting from CBIT support has had a truly game-changing impact – not only for tracking progress on reducing greenhouse gas emissions but also by supporting informed climate policy-making in countries around the world.
The Enhanced Transparency Framework (ETF) established at the COP21 climate summit in Paris is a key element of the Paris Agreement that establishes credibility and builds confidence among countries in the implementation of the climate regime. By requiring countries to track and report progress of their climate goals, and setting up a system to review these reports, the ETF builds trust and confidence that all countries are contributing to their share of the global effort.
CBIT was established by the Global Environment Facility in 2016, at the request of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), to specifically help developing countries to build their institutional and technical capacities to meet the requirements of the Enhanced Transparency Framework.
Specifically, CBIT aims to 1) strengthen national institutions for transparency-related activities in line with national priorities; 2) provide relevant tools, training, and assistance for meeting the provisions stipulated in Article 13 of the Paris Agreement; 3) assist in the improvement of transparency over time.
To date, CBIT projects have helped increase climate change transparency efforts in 81 developing countries, including 28 Least Developed Countries and 15 Small Island Developed States. A review of the CBIT portfolio highlights five main takeaways. These include:
- Enabling evidence-based policy making: CBIT projects assist in the generation of climate data and analysis, which in turn drives national policy-making and decision-making processes. Connecting the dots from data and analysis to evidence-based decision making is critically important to build the political narrative and support that is needed to accelerate climate action. Additionally, data platforms being developed by CBIT projects can create awareness on climate issues across all spheres of society. An example of this is support for Costa Rica’s integrated reporting and transparency system, which is establishing a new Strategic Climate Planning Unit to measure the impact of existing and potential new policies, and in turn. This includes an analysis of Costa Rica’s progress in achieving its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) as well as reviews of the country’s climate mitigation actions to date and options to integrate climate change policymaking across sectors. Another example is from Burkina Faso, which is developing a long-term strategy on transparency with a focus on gender. Women in Burkina Faso have been identified as a climate vulnerable group in the country, and the CBIT is helping the government develop an action plan to address the climate vulnerability of women as part of its long-term climate strategy.
- Building capacities, retaining capacities: Lasting improvements to climate transparency requires investments in people, with a clear role for universities and apprenticeship programs that can anchor capacity-building mechanisms within countries. For example, in The Bahamas a CBIT project is developing a capacity-building mechanism in partnership with a local institute to help develop and retain expertise in the country.
- Improving reporting across international environmental conventions: Countries have reporting commitments not only to the UNFCCC, but also other Conventions and identifying synergies for reporting requirements can help make these processes more efficient and less burdensome for countries. In fact, a CBIT project in Paraguay is undertaking a mapping exercise across the three Rio Conventions – UNFCCC, Convention on Biological Diversity, and the United Nations Convention on Combat Desertification (UNCCD) – to identify synergies across the reporting frameworks of the three Rio Conventions. This exercise will take into consideration indicators, information platforms, data sources, and others to identify where efficiency gains may be made.
- Spurring innovative technologies to track progress: To help improve the accuracy of the country’s emissions tracking system, Jamaica’s CBIT project will put in place blockchain technology. The digitization of the MRV process results in lower costs and more efficient reporting, facilitates traceability allowing stronger data integrity and greater transparency. For the process to be successful, the project will first conduct an assessment to determine readiness levels, identify technology needs, and assess market availability with the aim to implement a blockchain pilot that could be replicated in other countries.
- Sharing lessons and experiences among countries: Knowledge sharing is a critical element of CBIT projects. The CBIT Global Coordination Platform is the flagship knowledge-sharing initiative of the CBIT that fills a critical gap — it brings together policymakers, practitioners, and experts across countries to share experiences and lessons learned, and develop technical guidance on complex transparency-related issues. Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use (AFOLU) sectors have specific complexities related to their sectors in terms of implementing transparency. Recognizing this, the GEF set up two global projects - CBIT Forest and CBIT AFOLU - which have robust knowledge-sharing components.
The GEF is playing a unique role in the implementation of the ETF of the Paris Agreement, and is the only entity helping countries set up systems and increase capacities across the full range of transparency-related efforts, including support for the preparation of Biennial Transparency Reports and National Communications as well as CBIT projects.
While the CBIT has had considerable success in helping countries develop their transparency frameworks to date, the work is far from over. Supporting increased transparency will remain a key focus of the GEF’s climate change portfolio in the years ahead, and the GEF stands ready to support countries in being “ETF ready” as it heads into its eighth replenishment period.