Countries around the world are taking action to achieve national and international climate goals, looking beyond the next few years, and creating mid century plans. As of January 2021, 27 countries and the European Union have submitted a Long-Term Strategy to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. A Long-Term Strategy is a policy tool that establishes a vision and pathway towards sustainable, low-emission development to 2050.
In September 2020, USAID’s Transparency and Long-Term Strategies (T-LTS) project conducted a virtual training workshop for participants from the Latin American and the Caribbean (LAC) region. Many LAC countries are in the early stages of developing their own Long-Term Strategies, and ths workshop provided practitioners with an opportunity to consider the value in addressing climate risks up front.
Long-Term Strategies are neither a new nor independent framework – they build upon existing priorities and national planning systems and are meant to inform revisions of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and vice versa (see Figure 1). Long-Term Strategies help countries determine and prioritize short and mid-term actions and inform the development of sector, sub-national, and national plans and activities.
According to the Paris Agreement, Parties should strive to develop a “long-term, low greenhouse gas emission development strategy”; countries are encouraged to communicate low-emission pathways to 2050, but there are few other requirements. The flexibility of this provision has resulted in diverse interpretations of Long-Term Strategies that contain different components. For example, although climate resiliency and adaptation are important for many countries, they have not been a central focus of most Long-Term Strategies. A Long-Term Strategy's comprehensiveness and ambition depends upon country-specific priorities, capabilities, and differentiated responsibilities, highlighting the importance of country-specific processes and capacity building.
A key component of effective Long-Term Strategy development is transparency; plainly, transparency is explaining how you did what you did. It ensures that all assumptions and methodologies are clearly described and documented to facilitate understanding, replication, and verification.
Long-Term Strategies in LAC
The Transparency and Long-term Strategies project has been working to support countries in developing Long-Term Strategies and enhancing transparent practices. In September 2020, the T-LTS team conducted a virtual training workshop for participants from LAC region that:
- Focused on integrating climate risks into Long-Term Strategies, and
- Emphasized the importance of addressing both climate change mitigation and resilience considerations in long-term planning and development strategies.
The integration of resiliency was a particular priority for LAC countries, many of which face the impacts of more extreme weather events.
The majority of LAC countries are in the initial stages of developing Long-Term Strategies, and this workshop helped practitioners consider the value in addressing climate risks up front, as well as the potential to synergize mitigation and adaptation objectives. The in-depth discussions and interactive exercises throughout the training series revealed some key themes, including:
- Institutional arrangements: Communication and coordination between government bodies at the national and subnational level are often limited, impeding effective planning and implementation.
- Data access and quality: Limited or inaccurate data hinders effective modeling and projections, and limited data sharing agreements between agencies makes accessing any existing data more challenging.
- Stakeholder engagement: Consistent and reliable stakeholder engagement is essential; they can act as sources of data, provide necessary buy-in, and establish priorities.
- Sustainability of climate objectives: Participants expressed concern around ensuring the continuity of long-term climate goals when political priorities and funding may change.
- Resilience: Countries stressed the importance of improving resilience (both climate and economic resilience), especially for resource constrained countries and Small Island Developing States.
- Funding: Considering achievability in target-setting during Long-Term Strategy development and implementation is necessary when working with limited resources.
Based on these common themes and other outcomes of the workshop, the T-LTS project is pursuing targeted technical assistance to support countries in developing a climate-resilient Long-Term Strategy.
Derina Man is a Senior Managing Consultant at ICF, a global professional services firm that delivers consulting services and technology solutions in energy, climate change, and other areas. Derina provides technical and policy support related to low-emissions development strategies, greenhouse gas accounting and mitigation, and the phase-out of fluorinated gases. She is currently the project manager for the USAID Transparency and Long-Term Strategies project.