UNDP joins Least Developed Countries Expert Group at COP26 to celebrate 20 years of climate action

FAO, GCF, GEF, NAP Global Network and UNDP celebrate successes, lessons learned and discuss future support for Least Developed Countries over the next 10 years. 

November 5, 2021, Glasgow - The Least Developed Countries Expert Group (LEG) under the UNFCCC celebrated its 20thAnniversary at COP26 in Glasgow this year. The LEG was established in 2001 as part of the adopted Least Developed Countries (LDCs) decision package at COP 7. UNDP has been a longstanding partner regularly providing the LEG with country updates and, participating in the NAP technical working group, NAP Expos, LEG training workshops and other activities of the LEG in support of the LDCs. The LEG is mandated to provide technical guidance and support to the Least Developed Countries on the process to formulate and implement national adaptation plans (NAPs), the preparation and implementation of the national adaptation programmes of action (NAPAs) and the implementation of the LDC work programme. This year, the LEG members and partners gathered for a side event to reflect on the work of the LEG supporting LDCs in adaptation, as well as the priorities the LEG should tackle over the next 10 years. 

The event was the first in a series of celebratory events to take place and milestones announced throughout COP26. The LEG Chair, Mr. Kenel Delusca spoke about the continuous challenges that LDCs face, highlighting that the work of the LEG to support LDCs in climate adaptation is of paramount importance.  In the opening remarks, the Chair of the LDCs group, Mr. Tshering talked about the group being proactive to ensure the LEG mandate was extended at COP26 and this time the LEG has been extended for another 10 years. Mr. Tshering requested interest from additional members to the LEG, so the group can increase capacity and the bandwidth required to fulfill the support needs of LDCs. 

The LEG will advocate for financing for LDCs to formulate and implement their NAPs. The High Representative of the UN OHRLLS (The United Nations Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States) Mr. Courtenay Rattray spoke about the big role both the LEG and UNFCCC have played in the implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action for LDCs and he expressed confidence that this would also be the case under the new Programme of Action to be adopted in Doha in 2022. 

The side event heard from some of the key LEG partners (FAO, GCF, GEF, NAP Global Network and UNDP) during a panel discussion. The Head of Climate Change Adaptation at UNDP Ms. Srilata Kammila spoke about how for the past 20 years, UNDP has supported 45 LDCs through over 190 climate change adaptation projects (50 of which are currently under implementation). Through the completed projects, UNDP has reached around 10 million beneficiaries; 4.1 million of which have had increased access to climate information and early warning systems; 750,00 have had access to climate resilient agriculture services and over 20,000 hectares of agricultural land have transitioned to climate resilient practices and management. UNDPs climate change adaptation portfolio includes interventions in agriculture, ecosystems, water management, and early warning systems with the aim to protect livelihoods and our Planet. UNDP has drawn on the lessons learned from these projects and values long-term partnerships as a critical driver for achieving climate action with the acknowledgement that these adaptation action serve has a conduit to the SDG agenda with the multiple benefits they provide. In that sense, UNDP is very keen to advance a whole-of society-approach to accelerate adaptation.

The joint UNDP-UNEP National Adaptation Plan Global Support Programme (NAP-GSP), made possible with funding from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) will close operations in December 2021 after six years of support across 59 developing countries. In 2020-2021, the NAP-GSP designed a work plan to provide accurate support to seven LDCs (Burundi, Chad, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Sierra Leone, South Sudan, and Timor-Leste) in formulating their first NAPs. Ahead of the COP26, Timor-Leste and South Sudan have become the most recent LDCs to submit a NAP to the UNFCCC with the support of the NAP-GSP. These two countries presented their NAP in a NAP Country Platform event organized by the LEG in the second week of COP26. South Sudan, the youngest country in the world, has made great progress with respect to its climate change response. The country has successfully developed a NAPA, an Initial National Communication, and a First NAP within five years. The remaining countries will have their NAP finalized by the end of the year. 

UNDP has also provided further support to 15 LDCs upon request to access the Green Climate Fund Readiness Window to strengthen their NAP process, including Bangladesh, Benin, Bhutan, Burundi, DRC, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Haiti, Liberia, Madagascar, Mozambique, Niger, Senegal, Somalia, and Tanzania. Ten of these countries (Bangladesh, Benin, Bhutan, DRC, Guinea, Haiti, Liberia, Madagascar, Niger and Somalia) have had their proposal approved by the GCF Readiness Window and are at different stages of implementation.

The GEF has been supporting LDC since the inception of NAPs through the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF), and the GEF has funded the NAP-GSP since 2013. “The GEF’s priority has been to leave no LDC behind”, said Ms. Chizuru Aoki from the Global Environment Facility. The LDCF will enter a new phase of support starting in July 2022. As 12 donor governments pledged $413 million in new funding for the LDCF as the only dedicated source of climate resilience funds for the 46 Least Developed Countries, which have contributed the least to carbon emissions and face some of the highest risks from the effects of climate change.