There is no country in Europe and Central Asia where the impact of climate change cannot be seen and felt. The entire region is now visibly affected by air temperature variations, changes in river runoff and precipitation, and the more frequent incidence of extreme weather events.
Ambitious climate action is needed now more than ever, and UNDP is on the front lines. UNDP’s Climate Promise is the world’s largest offer of support for countries to enhance their pledges (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement. UNDP is helping 118 countries globally, including all 18 programme countries and territories in our region, to be more ambitious in reducing emissions, bolstering adaptation, and protecting ecosystems.
As the UN agency working on sustainable development, UNDP has a mandate of supporting countries as they move towards low-carbon development pathways, more sustainable use of natural resources, and increased resilience to climate change and disasters.
UNDP supports countries to:
- Build low-carbon economies, promote green jobs, and ensure a just transition;
- Increase resilience to the impacts of climate change;
- Recover from climate-induced disasters and build back better;
- Develop sustainable and renewable energy solutions; and
- Embrace inclusion and whole-of-society approaches in climate action.
Over the last few decades, countries in Eastern Europe, the Southern Caucasus and Central Asia have been increasingly affected by the impacts of climate change, from water and energy shortages to a broad spectrum of climate-induced natural disasters.
Temperature increases in the southern belt of the region are ahead of global trends. With more frequent and severe meteorological hazards, rural and urban populations across the entire region are likely to become more vulnerable, while the overall costs of adaptation are projected to increase dramatically.
Despite this, exacerbated pressures on natural resources and ecosystems continue. Economies in the region are still characterized by high levels of energy intensity and inefficiency, relying on fossil fuels for over 80 percent of their energy needs. Together, they represent 10 percent of all global energy consumption.
The region’s challenge will be to shift to a low-carbon development model, while at the same time shielding people from the consequences of catastrophic climate change and disasters. Across the region, UNDP is advocating for policies that promote low-carbon development and enhance resilience against the impacts of the climate crisis. From promoting clean energy and the circular economy to enabling the creation of green jobs and the conservation of ecosystems, UNDP’s work is supporting climate action as a driver for sustainable development.
What we do
- Together with the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the Green Climate Fund and other multilateral and bilateral partners, UNDP is working to boost investments in clean energy, sustainable use of natural resources, disaster risk reduction, adaptation and ultimately, climate resilience.
- UNDP’s Climate Promise has been supporting 18 countries and territories in the region to enhance their climate pledges or Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement, to develop and implement ambitious climate policies and strategies for their NDCs implementation, to mobilize resources, and to report transparently on their climate action. Together with over 35 partners at national, regional, and global levels, Climate Promise delivers consolidated technical expertise, funding and knowledge to governments in the region, helping them enhance their NDCs along three dimensions: robustness, feasibility, and ownership and inclusion.
- The EU4Climate programme, funded by the European Union (EU) and implemented by UNDP, supports Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine in implementing the Paris Agreement through improved climate policies and legislation. The goal of the programme is to help countries limit the effects of climate change and make citizens and communities more resilient to them.
- UNDP is also supporting 15 countries in the region formulate their National Adaptation Plans with financial assistance from the Green Climate Fund and the EU.
- In Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Serbia, and North Macedonia, UNDP supported the development of Disaster Risk Reduction policies at national and community level and helped strengthen the resilience of different communities to disaster risks.
- As of 31 March 2022, all 12 countries in the region that have submitted their enhanced NDCs with support from UNDP’s Climate Promise have increased their mitigation ambition, while 83 percent have expanded their adaptation plans.
- Through the EU4Climate programme, funded by the European Union (EU), six countries in the Eastern Partnership (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine) have developed and refined their climate policies and strategies, including NDCs, National Adaptation Plans, Low-Emissions Development Strategies, national MRV systems, and EU acquis roadmaps.
- Albania, Serbia, and Turkey have undertaken activities to support a just transition to low-carbon economies by prioritizing green recovery (Albania), looking at the energy transition from a green jobs perspective (Turkey), and initiating just transition processes in coal-dependent regions and communities (Serbia).
- In the Kyrgyz Republic, broad consultations with all sectors of society were held during the NDC revision process to ensure inclusion and ownership.
- Almost 100,000 farmers and shepherds in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan adopted efficient on-farm water and land use technologies to improve their resilience to climate-induced water scarcity.
- 85,000 school children and 3,000 teachers across 9 countries in the region have been engaged in climate education with UNDP’s Climate Box interactive learning toolkit and teachers’ training programmes.
- Integrated climate resilient flood risk management has been implemented across 5 countries - Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Albania, Montenegro and North Macedonia - with support from the Adaptation Fund, Green Climate Fund and Special Climate Change Fund.
The impacts of climate change – such as more frequent extreme weather events (floods, droughts, wildfires), rising water scarcity and food insecurity, loss of ecosystems and biodiversity – threaten to undermine decades of development gains and put at risk efforts to eradicate poverty in the region.
Tackling climate change must be central to all sustainable development efforts, such as reducing poverty, advancing gender equality, engaging youth and vulnerable groups or bolstering green recovery.
In Europe and Central Asia, UNDP remains the largest service provider in the UN system on climate change mitigation and adaptation, helping countries to:
- Transition toward low-emission and climate-resilient sustainable development;
- Prepare for and build resilience to the impacts of climate change; and
- Pursue low carbon development pathways that guarantee a cleaner, greener, and more secure future.
To achieve this, UNDP ensures its support is complementary to, and leverages the mandates, comparative advantages and skillsets of a wide range of strategic partners, including UNEP, FAO, IRENA, UNICEF, World Bank, UN-HABITAT, ILO, WHO or the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), while providing on-the-ground technical assistance.
UNDP’s Climate Promise, the world’s largest offer of support for countries to enhance their climate pledges (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement, has been working in the region since 2019, supporting 18 countries and territories to enhance their climate pledges or Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement, to develop and implement ambitious climate policies and strategies for their NDCs implementation, to mobilize resources, and to report transparently on their climate action.
Climate change adaptation
Whether it is failing crops caused by droughts, loss of livelihoods caused by floods or respiratory diseases caused by air pollution, the impacts of climate change are increasingly felt across Europe and Central Asia.
Adaptation efforts seek to lower the risks to the population by climate-proofing the economy and building livelihoods that protect the environment while eliminating carbon emissions. UNDP supports these goals by assisting countries to integrate current and future risks and uncertainties into their development efforts.
Our actions include putting into place new types of infrastructure – such as green infrastructure solutions for flood protection or improving the quality of irrigation systems to mitigate the impacts of droughts. They also include changing behaviors so that industries use less water, farmers plant more resistant crops, and households and businesses buy new types of insurance.
UNDP also works with governments and other partners to map out potential climate disaster areas, and make sure everyone from the national to the local level is prepared to respond. UNDP promotes an integrated approach to Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction, which calls for the whole-of-government and whole-of-society approaches and for an enhanced use of climate information for risk reduction.
Together with partners such as the Adaptation Fund, the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and the European Union (EU), UNDP is working to:
- Support adaptation strategies that cut across sectors
- Promote more resilient livelihoods
- Encourage sustainable management of ecosystems
- Boost smart agriculture that result in food security; and
- Enhance the use of climate information to protect communities and economies from climate-related disasters.
Climate pledges and policies
The Paris Agreement requires all Parties to develop, regularly update, and implement their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and report regularly on their emissions and implementation efforts.
UNDP supports countries and territories in the region to enhance their national climate policies and strategies to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. Some of the highlights of UNDP’s work in this area include:
- 18 countries and territories in the region are being supported to enhance their NDCs and develop ambitious NDC implementation and financing plans, through the Climate Promise;
- 7 countries are being assisted in developing Low Emission Development Strategies or Long Terms Strategies;
- 15 countries are supported in formulation of their national, sectoral or local adaptation plans;
- 6 countries in the EU Eastern Partnership are being supported to align their legislation with their commitments under the Paris Agreement, through the EU4Climate programme;
- Albania, North Macedonia, and Uzbekistan are supported in aligning their NDCs with SDGs, green economy, and green recovery agenda;
- Governments and partners across the region are supported to build capacity and enhance knowledge on new climate policy instruments such as carbon pricing, fiscal instruments, and revision of fossil fuel subsidies.
Eastern Europe and Central Asia remains one of the most carbon intensive regions in the world. Economies in the region are characterized by high levels of energy intensity and inefficiency, ageing infrastructure, and the slow adoption of renewable energy sources.
Decarbonizing or transitioning to a green economy will only happen if governments start investing in green and decent jobs, ending fossil-fuel subsidies and putting a price on carbon, taking climate risks and resilience into account in recovery planning, and leaving no one behind.
To reduce greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels, UNDP has been working with governments and the private sector to transition to low-carbon energy sources and development models. We help countries in the region:
- Participate in climate negotiations and submit enhanced pledges under the Paris Agreement;
- Attract financing for their climate action implementation plans;
- Design mid-century Low-Emission Development Strategies or Long-Term Strategies (LTS);
- Develop and implement high-impact climate action programmes and projects.
In addition, UNDP’s work in sustainable energy comprises three key action areas in line with SDG 7 targets: increasing access to affordable, reliable and sustainable energy; increasing the rate of improvements in energy efficiency; and increasing the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.
Transparency is central to the Paris Agreement. It allows the global community to assess collective progress and helps build trust that everyone is playing their part. It is also key to unlocking the full potential of the Paris Agreement, by providing a basis to facilitate further ambition.
Furthermore, providing access to up-to-date and reliable greenhouse gas emissions data, responses, and climate-related policies helps governments make evidence-based decisions. It also enhances our scientific understanding of climate change – and the actions and policies needed to mitigate it and adapt to its impacts.
Finally, reporting on action, and the support mobilized and needed, helps promote the collaboration, capacity-building and knowledge transfer required to strengthen the global response to climate change.
Under the new phase of the Climate Promise, UNDP will support countries to:
- step up data and transparency efforts, with a focus on meeting the requirements of the Enhanced Transparency Framework established in 2015;
- enhance monitoring, reporting and verification systems (MRV) and track NDC progress;
- compile and review Biennial Transparency Reports;
- integrate data on gender and vulnerable groups.
Education and awareness
In many countries around the region, the general public is still lacking basic awareness and understanding of the drivers and impact of climate change, as well as options for reducing carbon emissions and adapting to the new temperature rise. People are the ultimate consumers of goods and services, which use up resources and energy. Taking action at the household level requires knowledge of how to make a difference.
Because early education can have such an impact on life-long behaviours, UNDP developed a learning toolkit for school children: the Climate Box. The interactive materials provide them with important information on issues related to global climate change in an interesting, attractive and entertaining way.
The Climate Box, available in English, Russian, Arabic, French and Spanish, consists of:
- an illustrated textbook;
- a Climate Quiz – a set of game cards;
- a wall map illustrating the possible effects of climate change on nature and mankind in various parts of the world by the end of the 21st century;
- a poster with tips on how to reduce your carbon footprint;
- a CD with all materials.
Over 85,000 school children from nine countries - Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Russia – have used the new climate curricular. Belarus and Serbia have joined the programme more recently. More than 3,000 teachers from 2,000 schools have been trained, and the toolkit is available in ten local languages.
Over five years, the Climate Box has evolved from an innovative toolkit into a comprehensive climate education programme that engages with education ministries, schools, informal and non-formal education activities. Children and their teachers met with their peers from other countries at the international competition for best school projects on climate change and at the thematic summer school on the Black Sea. Climate Box continues its journey across the Europe and Central Asia and beyond.