Why transparency is fundamental to Climate Action

May 4, 2021

Chuuk Lagoon, Weno, Federated States of Micronesia (Photo: Marek Okon)

When it comes to climate actions and policies, transparency is at the heart of addressing the climate emergency.

But why is climate transparency so important for climate action?

Up-to-date and reliable scientific climate data allows for informed decision-making.

The COVID-19 pandemic has taught people across varying fields many lessons. Access to up-to-date and reliable scientific data helps policy makers make informed decisions, especially in times of crisis. When a country can collect, analyze, and present climate data, it can assess its individual circumstance, its needs, and priorities, as well as the progress (or lack of progress) they have made on addressing climate change. Therefore, having solid climate data allows countries to make tailored, effective, and realistic climate policies, action plans, and assess the support needed.

Transparency can promote climate mainstreaming in the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, governments across the globe have put in place fiscal stimulus packages to boost the economy and soften the effects of the pandemic. Yet, a UN Environment report[1] reveals that, US$368 billion out of US$14.6 trillion, or 18 percent of rescue and recovery spending took the environment and climate into account in 2020. The case for a green, climate-positive recovery cannot be complete without collecting and analyzing data on governments’ recovery packages and measuring it against the low-carbon investments needed to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement. Setting up transparency systems that allows for tracking and analysis of investments made, not only holds governments accountable to their climate commitments, but also ensures that a net-zero future is within reach.

Inclusion of gender equality and promotion of women’s empowerment builds up climate actions.

Stronger engagement of gender equality is key to a sustainable, low-carbon global recovery. Throughout the process of implementing the UNFCCC, countries have recognized that women and men need to be equally represented for actions to address climate change to fully respond to the differentiated needs, experiences, priorities and capabilities of women and men. Ensuring women and men are equally involved in the UNFCCC process, as well as in policies, programs, and funds, can be guaranteed through a transparent, monitoring, reporting, and verification system. Thus, allowing for gender equality tools, indicators, and data systems to be put in place, or enhanced, to track and report on gender-responsive climate mitigation efforts.

Climate action requires long-term, sustainable transparency and accountability mechanisms that continuously builds capacities with risk-informed development in mind.

Capacity building of both people and institutions on a continuous basis is one of the key aspects of sustainable, risk-informed development[2]. As alluded to earlier, having access to data and information, allows for better decision-making across the board - from the general public to top government officials. This is crucial for managing risks of climate change and disasters through planning and designing proper financing, oversight, and accountability systems, as well as effective partnerships, information sharing, policies, and practices. Thus, enhancing people’s awareness on key issues and processes, building trust, coordination and cooperation, and overall building capacities. Long-term, sustainable transparency and accountability mechanisms calls for a system change that is inclusive and addresses climate change at the national and global levels.

UNDP’s role in supporting countries set up monitoring and transparency systems.

In the Pacific, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) supported Vanuatu with its National Communication report, which lays out the country's current vulnerability to the impacts of climate change, as well as how they can cope with such impacts, and projections on the future of Vanuatu with a rapidly changing climate. The report also details its greenhouse gas emissions, and actions it is taking to mitigate climate change and ensure that the country develops in a low-carbon and climate-resilient manner.

The Global Support Programme (GSP) for National Communications (NCs) and Biennial Update Reports (BURs) provides support to developing countries, non-Annex I Parties as stated in the Paris Agreement, in order to prepare National Communications (NCs) and Biennial Update Reports (BURs) that are submitted to the UNFCCC. The Programme is jointly implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP and funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

[1] Are We Building Back Better? Evidence from 2020 and Pathways for Inclusive Green Recovery Spending, UNEP, 2021

[2] Risk-Informed Development, UN