The UN Climate Change secretariat’s 2021 annual report highlights results from the actions undertaken by the secretariat last year, including: the outcomes from the 2021 May-June Climate Change Sessions (the first time all Parties came together since COP25 in 2019); the positive outcomes from COP 26 in Glasgow, where Parties adopted the Glasgow Climate Pact, which aims to turn the 2020s into a decisive decade for climate action and support; and where the guidelines for the full implementation of the Paris Agreement were finalized allowing for scaled-up cooperation, the mobilization of additional finance and private sector engagement.
This is the secretariat’s fifth report and it aims to further enhance the understanding of the secretariat’s work for a broad range of stakeholders on our accomplishments, and also the challenges and opportunities of addressing climate change.
The UNFCCC secretariat is the United Nations entity supporting the global response to climate change as enshrined in the Convention and the Paris Agreement and contributes to progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goal 13 on climate action. Every year, it supports the intergovernmental negotiations that enables countries to implement the Convention, the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement and to take climate action. It also manages and reviews data and information needed to ensure transparency during implementation and enhances engagement between all stakeholders to bring them the knowledge, technologies, finance, experience and capacity-building needed. The secretariat provides legal advice on the implementation of the Convention, the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement, as well as on its operations, management and administration, including the finalization and conclusion of legal instruments and partnerships agreements.
Building on the flexible, agile and service-oriented structure established in 2020, the secretariat continued to respond to the challenges of operating during the COVID-19 pandemic – facilitating both remote and in-person working. The secretariat successfully organized 512 fully virtual meetings in 2021, assisting the May–June 2021 sessions of the subsidiary bodies, climate weeks and Conference of Parties (COP) 26 held in Glasgow in November.
The need for the secretariat to work remotely posed some challenges, and the secretariat responded by updating supporting tools, which helped to enhance the efficiency of the virtual UNFCCC process. The virtual mode of interaction also brought some benefits in terms of a larger audience, increased participation and increased frequency of interactions.
For the Glasgow Conference, the secretariat strived with the United Kingdom, as the host country, the United Nations Department for General Assembly and Conference Management, the United Nations Department of Safety and Security and the World Health Organization, to overcome pandemic-related challenges and organize a safe, inclusive and productive conference. The secretariat supported the United Kingdom Government COVID-19 vaccination programme, which offered vaccinations to delegates who otherwise would not have had access to them. In addition, the secretariat created a self-isolation fund to support eligible Party delegates who needed to self-isolate. Approximately USD 2.5 million was raised for the fund from Finland, the IKEA Foundation, Nature Conservancy and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors.
The pandemic posed some challenges to the capacity of Parties to implement and enhance their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), but international support was reinforced in 31 developing countries through the NDC Partnership Economic Advisory Initiative, which supported governments in preparing climate-compatible recovery packages.
 The United Nations Climate Conference in Glasgow also served as CMP 16, CMA 3 and the fifty-second to fifty-fifth sessions of the subsidiary bodies.
The urgent need for all countries to take climate action was reinforced in the contribution of Working Group I to the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report. Responding to this urgency and in support of the implementation of the Convention and the Paris Agreement, throughout 2021 the secretariat supported Parties to increase climate ambition, strengthen implementation of action and ensure accountability.
 IPCC. 2021. Summary for Policymakers. In: V Masson-Delmotte, P Zhai, A Pirani, et al. (eds.). Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press. Available at https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar6/wg1/#SPM.
Raising ambition globally requires alignment among countries regarding the need for increased ambition and the instruments in place to enable that ambition. The secretariat facilitated and informed work undertaken formally and informally by the Presidencies of COP 25 and 26, the Chairs of the subsidiary bodies, delegates and Party representatives in the lead-up to COP 26. The May–June 2021 sessions of the subsidiary bodies, the first such sessions to be held virtually, represented the first time that all Parties came together since COP 25 in 2019. The secretariat’s work facilitating and supporting these intergovernmental processes and negotiations contributed to progress at COP 26 in important areas:
Ambition on greenhouse gas mitigation. The persistent gap between commitments to reduce emissions and the levels needed to limit the rise in the average temperature to 1.5 °C was clearly identified and Parties collectively agreed to work to reduce that gap . For the first time, Parties are being called upon to phase down unabated coal power and phase out inefficient subsidies for fossil fuels. A work programme on mitigation ambition and implementation and a mandate for an annual high-level ministerial round table on ambition were also agreed.
The improved Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action for enhancing ambition in 2021–2025 was presented and welcomed at COP 26. Also at COP 26, Parties agreed on rules regarding international carbon markets as implemented under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement. Such agreement on these rules is a step forward in ensuring the effectiveness of carbon markets and paves the way for more private sector involvement.
Ambition on adaptation and resilience. Parties also urged a doubling of finance for adaptation and established the Glasgow–Sharm el-Sheikh work programme on the global goal on adaptation. Averting, minimizing and addressing loss and damage requires multidisciplinary solutions and financial resources. Under the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage associated with Climate Change Impacts, further resources and expertise were mobilized to catalyse support for developing countries to address loss and damage.
Ambition on finance. Finance was extensively discussed throughout the conference, and consensus was reached on the need to continue increasing support to developing countries. Developed country Parties reaffirmed their duty to fulfil the pledge of providing USD 100 billion annually by 2023 at the latest, and Parties agreed on a way forward in relation to the post-2025 climate finance goal. In the lead-up to COP 26, the secretariat facilitated the crucial outreach and consultations undertaken by the COP 25 and 26 Presidencies to prepare Parties for the negotiations on climate finance.
Data and information for ambition
By providing transparency and accountability on actions under way, the secretariat helps build confidence to increase ambition and provides inspiration for wider action.
- The NDC Synthesis Report synthesized information from the latest NDCs of all Parties to the Paris Agreement, including new or updated NDCs.
- The global climate action portal was regularly updated and, at the end of 2021, recognized over 26,000 non-Party stakeholders, including 11,191 cities, 283 subnational regions, 9,979 companies, 1,441 investors, 3,219 organizations and 151 international cooperative climate initiatives.
- The Yearbook of Global Climate Action 2021 highlights the state of global climate action in 2021, showing a significant increase in the number of actors engaging in climate action and who announced net zero pledges.
Enhanced engagement to deliver ambition
In addition to establishing the political basis for increased ambition, it is important to engage stakeholders of all types to increase collaboration, broaden the types of actors and increase their capacity to act. The secretariat worked with a wide range of partners, including governments, United Nations and non-United Nations organizations, private sector entities, foundations, philanthropies, think tanks and academia, to advance work in support of the Paris Agreement and to support COP 26.
Engaging regions for enhanced ambition. The Regional Collaboration Centres (RCCs) supported the engagement on increasing ambition in mitigation action in different regions.
Engaging cities, regions, businesses and investors. Ambition in action from non-Party actors was further catalysed through the activities of the two high-level champions, with the support of the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action and the RCCs. The high-level champion campaigns, include:
- Race to Zero , rallying non-Party actors to take rigorous and immediate action to halve their emissions by 2030 and deliver a healthier, fairer, zero carbon world by 2050, reached 67 regions, 1,049 cities, 5,227 companies, 1,039 educational institutions, 441 financial institutions and over 3,000 hospitals from 52 health-care systems.
- The Race to Resilience, a sibling campaign of Race to Zero that aims to catalyse action by non-Party stakeholders to increase the resilience of 4 billion people from vulnerable groups and communities by 2030, brought together over 30 partners representing over 2,500 organizations.
- The Climate Action Pathways, setting out sectoral visions for striving towards a 1.5 °C resilient world by 2050. To catalyse near-term vision, the high-level champions derived from the Climate Action Pathways the 2030 Breakthroughs that identify specific tipping points in each sector to converge stakeholders over the next five years and highlight how key actors can deliver the sectoral changes.
Engagement on adaptation ambition. The secretariat provided support to the Adaptation Committee to complete its planned activities in 2021 and develop a new workplan for 2022–2024. Key Adaptation Committee outputs supported by the secretariat included finalizing a paper on capacity gaps in accessing adaptation funding and a technical paper on approaches to reviewing the overall progress made in achieving the global goal on adaptation.
The Nairobi work programme on impacts, vulnerability and adaptation to climate change catalyses adaptation action by closing knowledge gaps identified by Parties. Activities the secretariat supported included publishing a scoping paper on knowledge gaps in integrating forest and grassland biodiversity and ecosystems into adaptation strategies and a report on enhancing resilience of oceans, coastal areas and ecosystems through collaborative partnerships.
Engagement on innovation. The secretariat launched the UN Climate Change Global Innovation Hub at COP 26 to enhance the effectiveness of innovation to support climate and sustainability solutions. The hub includes a digital platform that facilitates the identification or development of innovative climate and sustainability solutions required to address demand. The hub is expected to incentivize the establishment of ambitious NDCs, facilitate their effective implementation, enable their continuous update and track their progress towards global climate and sustainability goals.
Engaging for an inclusive and just transition. For the first time, three virtual technical expert meetings were organized on issues related to the wider impacts of measures taken in response to climate change. Parties and stakeholders expressed an increased demand to further enhance the collaboration and action to enable a just transition and to have action-oriented recommendations as an output of the technical work undertaken by the Katowice Committee of Experts on the Impacts of the Implementation of Response Measures.
The Facilitative Working Group of the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform (LCIPP), with the secretariat’s assistance, maintained and strengthened the progress of work under the LCIPP, which facilitated the engagement of indigenous peoples and local communities, making use of their knowledge and values in designing and implementing climate policies and actions. COP 26 recognized the important role of the LCIPP in bringing together Parties and indigenous peoples and local communities to achieve the objectives of the Convention and the Paris Agreement.
The engagement of youth in climate action and their critical role as agents of change continued to grow, as did the secretariat’s support for their meaningful engagement and active participation in the UNFCCC process. Conference of Youth. COP 26 expressed its appreciation for the insights garnered from both events, and the Youth and Public Empowerment Day provided a platform for highlighting the expertise of young people and ensuring their voices were heard. Action for Climate Empowerment refers to work on climate education, public awareness, training, public access to information, public participation and international cooperation, with a cross-cutting focus on children and youth. The secretariat organized a series of virtual activities over the course of eight months that served as a successful foundation for the new 10-year Glasgow work programme on Action for Climate Empowerment adopted at COP 26. The new work programme will catalyse multi-stakeholder action in order to contribute to the urgent and just transition to low-emission and climate-resilient economies and societies.
 Under the leadership of the high-level champions, the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action supports implementation of the Paris Agreement by enabling collaboration between governments and non-Party stakeholders.
 See decision 7/CMA.3.
 Just transition refers to a framework for a fair and sustainable shift to a low-carbon economy.
 See decision 16/CP.26.
While raising ambition is necessary, as underscored by science, implementing existing agreements at pace is also important. COP 26 brought together over 120 world leaders and a record 38,459 representatives of government, civil society, business and youth from almost 200 countries with the aim of turning the 2020s into a decade of climate action and support.
After over two weeks of intense negotiations, Parties adopted the Glasgow Climate Pact and other decisions aimed at strengthening efforts to build resilience to climate change, curbing greenhouse gas emissions and providing the necessary finance for both.
In 2020, the Executive Secretary encouraged an open channel of communication with non-governmental organization constituencies in a consultative planning process on good practices of public participation and access to information relating to NDCs and NAPs. The open channel of communication led to the implementation of new measures at COP 26 relating to the facilitation of advocacy, including the facilitation of the ‘People’s Plenary’ on the last day of the conference.
As well as providing logistical and organizational support, the secretariat assisted in procedural and legal matters pertaining to convening the sessions of the governing and subsidiary bodies. The secretariat also supported the Paris Agreement Implementation and Compliance Committee and the Kyoto Protocol Compliance Committee.
Data and information for implementation
An important part of ensuring accountability and transparency for implementation is the provision of data and information, which is also supported by the secretariat.
Reporting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Determining how and from where GHGs are being emitted is an important basis for climate action. The secretariat prepared and published the aggregate GHG information report, the GHG data report and the compilation and accounting report and addendum, in accordance with its mandates. It also prepared and published status reports in support of the GHG review process.
Review of annual information submitted by Annex I Parties on greenhouse gas inventories. Ensuring that Parties’ submissions are subject to review is an essential component of the MRV process and of promoting transparency. The secretariat organized reviews for Annex I Parties in accordance with its mandates, including the preparation of annual review reports. In addition, the secretariat prepared annual reports to the SBSTA on the technical review of GHG inventories and other information reported by Parties included in Annex I.
Accounting under the second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol. To enable assessment of Parties’ compliance with Article 3 of the Kyoto Protocol, total aggregated emissions and removals by Annex I Parties in the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol are monitored and precise records are kept of the Kyoto Protocol mechanisms, including the clean development mechanism and the use of units from land use and land-use change and forestry. The Kyoto Protocol established a rigorous MRV system and a compliance system to ensure transparency and hold Parties to account, and the secretariat had a vital role in supporting those systems.
Accounting of certified emission reductions. The secretariat continues its role in ensuring the accurate accounting of the issuance, holding and acquisition of certified emission reductions of the clean development mechanism. There was a 42 per cent increase in the issuance of certified emission reductions for 2021 compared with 2020 (101 million versus 70.9 million), the highest amount issued since 2017. There was also a more than 90 per cent increase in the number of certified emission reductions voluntarily cancelled (37.1 million in 2021 versus 19.4 million in 2020). The secretariat also began a new partnership with AirCarbon Exchange, the world’s first digital carbon exchange, to promote carbon offsetting through the purchase of certified emission reductions. The United Nations carbon offset platform is a service of the clean development mechanism registry that allows the public to purchase certified emission reductions online for voluntary cancellation.
Engaging indigenous peoples and local communities. The work of the LCIPP was made more widely accessible by operationalizing the LCIPP web portal. The portal offers concrete ways for LCIPP contributors to access resources and events.
Providing tools, methodologies and data. As the challenges of climate change are similar in many countries, the secretariat has a role in providing access to useful tools and methodologies. The Law and Climate Change Toolkit was expanded to support the establishment of national climate change legislation and showcased at the Law and Governance Day 2021, which was conducted in conjunction with COP 26.
The secretariat supported the integration of remote sensing and ground data to help estimate land sector GHG emissions and removals, and the estimation of the mitigation potential for GHG emissions.
Engagement to enhance implementation
The secretariat also enhanced implementation across mitigation, adaptation and finance.
Implementing country plans. NDCs, national adaptation plans (NAPs) and LT-LEDS all set out national plans for action. The Implementation Labs, delivered at the regional climate weeks, provided a space for national government representatives and non-Party stakeholders in each region to have an open and solution-oriented dialogue on priorities and needs of countries for implementing these plans.
The Collaborative Instruments for Ambitious Climate Action Initiative, established by the secretariat to assist Parties in developing carbon pricing instruments and implemented with the assistance of the RCCs, delivered activities across the regions.
Stimulating the uptake of climate technology. Technology development and transfer has an important role to play in both mitigation and adaptation action. The TEC and the Climate Technology Centre and Network, with the support of the secretariat, prepared a joint publication providing a comprehensive analysis and synthesis of information on technology needs and challenges, linkages between policy and implementation, and linkages between NDCs and NAPs.
The TEC extended its collaboration within the secretariat and with external partners at the regional and global level and published a series of technical papers and policy briefs that advanced climate technology solutions. With the assistance of the Climate Technology Centre and Network, the TEC published a technical paper on enabling environments and challenges to technology development and transfer identified in technology needs assessments, NDCs and relevant TEC briefs to deliver relevant key messages and recommendations to Parties at COP 26.
Furthermore, in collaboration with different stakeholders, including high-level champions and the RCC, the TEC hosted three events at Asia-Pacific Climate Week. The event included discussions on the role of innovation and emerging technologies in enabling a sustainable transition of the energy supply sector in the Asia-Pacific region and reaching net zero emissions by 2050.
During Africa Climate Week, the secretariat, in collaboration with RCC Kampala, organized a thematic session on advancing electric mobility in Africa. This event showcased examples of e-mobility solutions implemented in Africa and discussed policy options for accelerating the upscaling and diffusion of successful technological solutions in the region. Outside of climate weeks, the secretariat organized a webinar to assist countries in developing their project ideas to the level of being recognized and supported by financial institutions.
Building capacity. Capacity-building is key to strengthening climate change adaptation and mitigation and cuts across all areas of work at the secretariat. In June, the 10th Durban Forum on capacity-building was organized with support from the secretariat and was attended by approximately 120 capacity-building stakeholders who discussed capacities for addressing climate and development goals.
At the 5th meeting of the Paris Committee on Capacity-building (PCCB), held virtually with the support of the secretariat, the PCCB and more than 170 observers met to discuss progress in the work of the PCCB. The 3rd Capacity-building Hub, a week-long event series at COP 26 that was organized by the PCCB with secretariat support, attracted over 4,700 participants who discussed a wide range of urgent capacity-building issues under different thematic areas such as adaptation and resilience, and finance and technology. The PCCB created an informal coordination group for capacity-building as a key vehicle for representatives of constituted bodies, operating entities and relevant UNFCCC processes to coordinate climate change related capacity-building plans and activities. The PCCB Network, coordinated by the secretariat on behalf of the PCCB, had reached 276 member institutions worldwide by the end of 2021 and implemented more than 20 activities, including training workshops, regional meet-ups, podcasts and newsletters.
Implementation by non-Party stakeholders. The secretariat engaged widely with cities, regions, businesses and investors to support implementation of their own actions on climate change and to inspire others to take action. COP 26 included more than 100 events related to climate action, including more than 70 innovative and inspiring sessions at the Climate Action Hub.
The United Nations Global Climate Action Awards shine a light on the enormous groundswell of activities under way across the globe that are moving the world towards a highly resilient, low-carbon future. A total of 11 game-changing initiatives received a Global Climate Action Award for their innovative, scalable and practical climate actions. Sector action is also important, and the Sports for Climate Action Framework adopted a new set of commitments aligned with the 1.5° C goal, including by reducing their climate footprint by 50 per cent by 2030. The signatories of the Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action agreed to a decarbonization plan that aligns with Paris Agreement, with ambitious actions set throughout the sector, including the supply chains.
Engagement on adaptation. The Least Developed Countries Expert Group launched the year-long celebration of 20 years of supporting the least developed countries on adaptation. This milestone affirmed that the work of the Group and its support for adaptation to least developed countries is of paramount importance. It continued to provide support directly to countries through the Open NAP initiative by assisting national experts in the African least developed countries in drafting NAPs. By the end of 2021, 31 NAPs were available on NAP Central, which is 11 more than in 2020.
To ensure the provision of technical support to developing countries in the process of formulating or implementing NAPs, the secretariat established UN4NAPs, a United Nations system-wide partnership initiative.
RCC Dubai supported the preparation and delivery of the two virtual technical workshops to close priority knowledge gaps in the Gulf Cooperation Council/West Asia and North Africa subregions under the implementation of the Lima Adaptation Knowledge Initiative. The UN Climate Change and Universities Partnership Programme, coordinated by the Nairobi work programme, provides graduate students with the opportunity to work closely with local, national and regional partners in undertaking projects as part of their master’s thesis in countries including Namibia, Nepal, Peru and Seychelles. The projects were focused on producing tangible outputs to enable countries and subregions to adapt to climate change.
Accessing climate finance. Climate finance will be key for Parties to expeditiously implement their NDC and NAPs. The secretariat supplements its support to intergovernmental work by facilitating access of developing countries to climate finance at the country and regional levels. This includes supporting countries in identifying their finance needs, setting climate finance strategies to meet those needs and matchmaking countries with financiers to implement those strategies. The Needs-based Finance project, as mandated at COP 23, progressed in more than 100 countries and regions participating despite the pandemic. Several regional technical assessments on climate finance were conducted, regional climate finance mobilization and access strategies, including project pipelines were developed, and arrangements for implementation with partners were concluded. RCC Dubai supported the needs-based finance team in the Arab States and RCC Lomé supported the development of the Needs-based Finance project in West Africa.
The secretariat was also able to help mobilize finance, for example RCC Lomé raised USD 200,000 from the West African Development Bank to support the establishment of the Academy for Global Youth Leadership Empowerment hub in Africa and the development of a course curriculum and the mapping of regional institutions that are leading in climate action.
A series of events on climate finance were organized by the secretariat, including webinars on the role of microfinance in the replacement or acquisition of appliances and on trusts and forest funds for results-based payments and payments for services schemes. Information exchanges between countries and climate finance institutions were facilitated through the secretariat’s support of the Standing Committee on Finance Forum on finance for nature-based solutions.
Inclusive implementation. To ensure inclusivity of climate action, together with Parties and other stakeholders, the secretariat sought to galvanize support for the establishment of ambitious new commitments on gender-responsive and transformative climate action. Such commitments were announced at a high-level event, hosted by the United Kingdom in collaboration with the secretariat, on Gender Day at COP 26.
At the Latin America and Caribbean Climate Week, the Government of Antigua and Barbuda, RCC St. George’s, the United Nations Children’s Fund, the Caribbean Youth Environment Network, and other regional partners launched the Academy for Global Youth Leadership Empowerment in the Caribbean, which builds on and adds value to existing regional youth engagement frameworks. The PCCB, with the support of the secretariat and in collaboration with the PCCB Network, organized a virtual event series at the regional climate weeks to provide a platform for regional dialogues to explore the role of youth in capacity-building and to share best practices for engaging youth in capacity-building for NDC implementation and resilience-building.
Engaging broadly. The reach and engagement across the secretariat’s social media channels were over 1,600 per cent higher during COP 26 than COP 25, driven by increased public interest in climate change and strategic partnerships with key digital companies. Strategic collaboration with all major digital platforms, including Facebook, Google, Twitter and YouTube was established. With more than 4,000 journalists in attendance, the Glasgow Conference saw a record number of media representatives attending a United Nations Climate Change Conference: more than 260 press conferences for Parties, observers and United Nations agencies were organized over the two weeks.
The secretariat has an important role in enabling the accountability and transparency that are vital to building confidence in the international response to climate change. 2021 saw the start of the first global stocktake, which will end in 2023.
It was a critical year in the continuing international effort to transition from the measurement, reporting and verification arrangements under the Convention to the Enhanced Transparency Framework (ETF). The secretariat focused its efforts on preparing and engaging Parties to ensure the successful finalization of the negotiations on operationalizing the ETF, while continuing to advance internal business practices, tools and systems in preparation for the ETF.
The successful completion at the Glasgow Conference of the negotiations on the remaining matters related to the implementation of the ETF was important as it ensured that the next steps of the implementation of the ETF can progress. The secretariat continued coordinating efforts to support the transition to the ETF across different workstreams related to issues such as tools and training for expert reviewers.
The secretariat also supported the successful conclusion of the negotiations at the Glasgow Conference on a registry to record adaptation communications, which enabled operationalizing an arrangement for publishing adaptation communications in 2022, thus enhancing the visibility and profile of adaptation.
In addition to facilitating the adoption of the complete set of guidance on transparency, the secretariat continued to support the ongoing reporting and review under the UNFCCC process:
- Since 2014, the secretariat has coordinated the assessment of the progress of 56 developing countries in tackling deforestation. The Lima REDD+ Information Hub reported verified emission reductions from REDD+ activities of just over 8 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent at the end of 2021. As a result of their success, eight countries were granted results-based financing, amounting to USD 500 million, from the Green Climate Fund;
- Non-Annex I Parties submitted 36 biennial update reports that included updates of national GHG inventories and information on mitigation actions, needs and support received. The secretariat coordinated virtual rounds of technical analysis of biennial update reports and workshops for the facilitative sharing of views. Summary reports published as a result of this technical analysis process outlined the findings of the experts, particularly the capacity-building needs;
- The secretariat facilitated the review of 11 fourth biennial reports from Annex I Parties in three centralized reviews. The review reports were prepared within the mandated timeline and published on the UNFCCC website. Two multilateral assessment sessions for 30 Parties were conducted virtually in June and in-person at COP 26;
- The secretariat organized the eighth meeting of lead reviewers for the review of biennial reports and national communications, which resulted in conclusions that provide guidance to expert review teams to improve the consistency and efficiency of the reviews;
- The secretariat coordinated individual reviews of 21 GHG inventory submissions by Annex I Parties, of which 15 were organized in five centralized reviews conducted remotely, and 6 organized in three desk reviews. The secretariat continues to reinforce the capacity of review resources by inviting new review experts to participate in centralized reviews. Nine new experts, who had taken the training courses for reviews under the Convention and its Kyoto Protocol and passed the corresponding examinations, participated in reviews. The secretariat continued making efforts to improve the timeliness of the publication of the review reports during the 2021 review cycle while maintaining the required quality, in particular by increasing the number of experts per team and updating the review materials and tools;
- The 18th meeting of the lead reviewers was held virtually from 22 to 26 March. Meetings of lead reviewers are critical to the review process, as lead reviewers provide guidance on how to improve the quality, efficiency and consistency of the reviews. The conclusions and recommendations from this meeting also provided the SBSTA with input for its guidance on selecting experts and coordinating expert review teams and the review process.
Data and information management and enhancement
To ensure accountability, the secretariat has maintained and enhanced the way data are managed and made accessible.
Tools for reporting and review. The secretariat provided continuous maintenance, operability and access to experts, Parties and the public to all systems, applications and tools related to MRV and transparency, including the NDC registry and nationally appropriate mitigation action registry. Among the activities supporting the reporting by developing countries, an interactive GHG Help Desk was launched.
The information technology tools for biennial reports, namely the virtual team room and multilateral assessment portal, were enhanced. Materials to support the process of reviews of biennial reports were improved, including by updating and reviewing the review practice guidance, streamlining review report templates and checklists, and updating the database of recommendations and review experts’ guidance. The lead reviewers updated and endorsed the review practice guidance during their annual meeting.
Improving the user experience. The Adaptation division initiated the Adaptation Digital Ecosystem initiative, aiming to streamline the user experience and user interface of all Adaptation division online portals and make their maintenance more efficient. The first milestone of the project was successfully concluded with the launch of the LCIPP web portal.
Guidance materials. Guidance materials for quality assurance of GHG inventory management systems were developed and disseminated, and information technology tools and mechanisms necessary to support the implementation of the quality assurance of national GHG inventories were maintained.
Engagement to enable accountability
Technical capacity-building. The first training for technical expert reviewers of GHG inventories organized by the secretariat dates back nearly two decades. Since then, the secretariat has developed and implemented four training programmes: for technical experts who take part in the reviews of Annex I Parties’ national communications, biennial reports and GHG inventory submissions and the technical analysis of biennial update reports of developing country Parties, along with the evaluation of the MRV arrangements under the Convention. Each training programme consists of e-learning courses and final examinations for certifying successful participants.
At the Glasgow Conference, Parties adopted a new training programme for the reviewers of biennial transparency reports under the ETF and requested the secretariat to develop and implement the programme, incorporating, as appropriate, technical advice from the Consultative Group of Experts and lead reviewers.
The secretariat also supported promoting awareness, understanding and enhancing institutional and technical capacities of developing country Parties. In collaboration with regional partners, regional virtual training workshops and meetings were organized, to enhance technical capacities of national experts from developing country Parties on NDCs and the ETF, reaching more than 1,000 experts.
Building on the experiences and lessons learned regarding the challenges relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, the secretariat supported the organization of many capacity-building activities.
Engagement of partners and regions. The engagement of partners and regions in accountability activities was extensive. The secretariat organized two meetings of an informal network (Group of Friends on MRV/transparency framework for developing countries) of entities actively supporting developing countries on transparency issues. The network serves as a platform to exchange information, lessons learned and experiences in engaging with and assisting developing countries and promote coordination and collaboration among support providers. Further, RCCs have been actively engaging with countries in their region on transparency topics.
2022 is a critical year with regard to mitigation and adaptation action. The outcomes of COP 26 signalled a shift from negotiations and setting targets to implementing actions and raising ambition further. Countries need to submit more ambitious short-term and long-term climate action plans to cut GHG emissions and enhance their resilience. The finalization of the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report in 2022 will be an important step in building the foundation for the work under the UNFCCC, including the global stocktake. The secretariat will be supporting work taking place to pave the way for a decision on the mitigation work programme at COP 27 and a strong political message from the ministerial high-level round table on ambition. The secretariat will also be supporting work on achieving progress under the Glasgow–Sharm el-Sheikh work programme on the global goal on adaptation.
The global stocktake will take stock of the implementation of the Paris Agreement by assessing collective progress towards achieving the purpose and long-term goals of the Agreement. The secretariat supports the global stocktake to ensure opportunities for effective participation and contribute to a common understanding of global efforts and priority actions to enhance national ambition and international cooperation.
The efforts to engage a broad coalition of non-Party stakeholders in support of the Parties’ work to implement the Paris Agreement will be scaled up by the work under the high-level champions, through UNFCCC partnerships with United Nations organizations and other stakeholders, as well as through the secretariat's support to sectoral initiatives in fashion, sports and tourism. Also significant is the effort to increase the engagement of non-Party stakeholders in countries where they are not well engaged in climate action.
With emphasis shifting to implementation of action, the secretariat will continue working across the United Nations system and with a broader stakeholder group to mobilize partners for supporting NDC and LT-LEDS implementation. In 2022, further details of the implementation of Article 6 need to be completed, and rules for the transitioning of existing projects to the new system under Article 6 be delivered.
Science demonstrates the growing urgency for averting, minimizing and addressing loss and damage. In 2022, the secretariat will continue to catalyse support to assist the implementation of the rolling workplan of the Warsaw International Mechanism, to support the further operationalization of the Santiago network for technical assistance and the launch of the Glasgow Dialogue.
The Least Developed Countries Expert Group will continue to focus on supporting countries in producing their NAPs and providing technical assistance in accessing funding for the formulation and implementation of programmes and projects identified in the NAPs. This focus is strengthened by the new 10-year mandate of the Least Developed Countries Expert Group achieved at COP 26.
The secretariat is working to support the Adaptation Committee in enhancing its reach and impact in 2022. Enhanced collaboration with leading experts and organizations, including with Working Group II to the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report, will strengthen the technical work of the Committee.
The TEC and the Climate Technology Centre and Network successfully delivered their joint activity on NDCs and technology. Both bodies aim to strengthen the collaboration through joint activities in 2022 and beyond. However, the resources for implementing all proposed joint activities remain a challenge.
The secretariat will collaborate with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, Future Cleantech Architects and other partners to contribute to the ARC – Cleantech Innovation Festival. Events such as this are promising avenues to showcase innovations in climate technologies.
The TEC will develop its five-year rolling workplan for implementation in 2023–2027. There are opportunities for the TEC to explore new areas of work within the mandate of the technology framework. The secretariat will continue supporting the TEC in its work.
A priority for capacity-building in 2022 is providing continued support to the PCCB in implementing its workplan for 2021–2024. The secretariat will continue to provide quality and holistic support to the Committee across all areas of work, including activities at the regional level.
Work under the Nairobi work programme in 2022 will focus on building long-term strategic engagement with its partners (including thematic expert groups and Lima Adaptation Knowledge Initiative subregional partners), UNFCCC national focal points and UNFCCC constituted bodies to catalyse and scale up adaptation actions. The work will focus on developing and implementing a coherent and systematic approach to monitor and evaluate actions and impacts on knowledge users.
The Glasgow Conference marked the start of post-2025 climate finance discussions, and climate finance will continue to be a crucial issue for continued support for Parties by the secretariat at the intergovernmental, regional and national levels. Mobilization and delivery of climate finance to developing countries will remain a priority at the intergovernmental level. In parallel with high-level deliberations on the long-term global goal for financial mobilization, the secretariat will support Parties to work towards replenishing climate funds that developing countries can use in the short to medium term.
Support will be provided to the Standing Committee on Finance in 2022 to deliver on its mandates to prepare for the fifth biennial assessment and overview of climate finance flows and on the new mandates from COP 26, which include a progress report on the USD 100 billion goal and reports on definitions of climate finance and mapping of Article 2, paragraph 1(c), of the Paris Agreement. The secretariat will continue to implement the Needs-based Finance project to support developing countries, as Parties at COP 26 extended the mandate for the project.
The Facilitative Working Group is already planning for the implementation of the second three-year workplan of the LCIPP. The new workplan includes activities to strengthen the engagement of the knowledge, perspectives and values of indigenous peoples and local communities in the work of constituted bodies across the UNFCCC process. The LCIPP will welcome a new group of members of the Facilitative Working Group in 2022 to take on the leadership role and to unlock sustainable and resilient ways to meet commitments under the Paris Agreement.
At COP 26 governments strengthened ocean-based action under the UNFCCC multilateral process. The secretariat will support relevant work programmes and constituted bodies in considering how to integrate and strengthen ocean-based action in their existing mandates and workplans, to report on these activities within the existing reporting processes, and to organize an annual ocean and climate change dialogue.
With the negotiations at COP 26 finished, 2022 has become the year of implementation of the ETF. The secretariat will engage Parties and all stakeholders on a political and technical level to prepare for universal participation in the ETF.
Parties that are working together already to deliver their NDCs with cooperative approaches will start to provide the details of those approaches through reports, and those reports will be reviewed. The details will be made available on a public interface on the UNFCCC website.
The secretariat has almost completed the process of overhauling the UNFCCC capacity-building portal with a view to transforming it into a one-stop shop for pertinent information on capacity-building under the Convention. The enhanced capacity-building portal is expected to go online in the first quarter of 2022.
In the light of greater demand from observer organizations to participate in COP, the secretariat will work toward finding solutions to facilitate a more inclusive participation in the context of the era of Paris Agreement implementation.
The vision of the UNFCCC for 2022 is to build on the successes at the Glasgow Conference and support Parties in strengthening the global response to climate change. The pledges made by Parties in the run-up to COP 26 are strong, yet there is still a gap in achieving the objectives of the Paris Agreement, and speed of implementation is vital. Finance needs to be mobilized, and adaptation and resilience ambition increased. Climate action must remain at the forefront of the global agenda and deliver ambitious solutions. The urgency for action is evident, and the UNFCCC will continue to work alongside Parties to raise ambition, implement action and be accountable.