A Future ‘Big Beast’ Stirs?


Resource:  NDC Partnership

Type of Resource:  Membership Organisation


The NDC Partnership has to date been a somewhat enigmatic presence in the Paris landscape – clearly large and well-resourced, but as yet not quite in focus as to its aims and ambitions.

We therefore started our talk with its recently appointed Director of Knowledge and Research, Rob Bradley, by asking him to explain the rationale for setup of the Partnership.

“Paris coming into force was a huge achievement, and it’s created a step-change in political will. But it was clear from the outset that it also created huge questions and challenges as countries start to think about how they implement their NDCs.   Many of the INDCs were put together after a considered process, but others were done pretty much at the last minute.  But whatever the process, countries are now having to work out what they need, in terms of institutional capacity, finance and hardware, to implement them.

“The NDC Partnership has been established to respond to these challenges by bringing together donor countries and developing countries, so we can first identify the needs of the latter and then find the best ways of supporting these needs.  There are also a number of DFI and institutional partners.”

The Partnership was formally launched at the Marrakech COP and has been quickly ramped up since, Bradley himself joining just in April after a twenty-year career in various aspects of climate policy and diplomacy (see Biography below).  It has support units in Washington DC and Bonn, serviced by the World Resources Institute. Some staff will also be posted regionally, in offices in Ethiopia, Morocco, Panama and Thailand.

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The Partnership now has 57 member countries, 40 of them developing nations.  It is funded by the German, British, Dutch, Danish and French governments. Its Global Director will join this month – Dr Pablo Vieira, formerly Deputy Minister for the Environment in Colombia (and that country’s lead negotiator for Paris).  Vieira reports to a steering committee of 13 countries (4 developed countries, 4 developing countries and three international organisations), co-chaired by Germany and Morocco.

We’re quickly realising that it’s not just governments that need to be involved

Engagement between the support group of which Bradley is part is direct between the group and member countries.  Is the private sector a part of that engagement, we ask?

“To begin with,” Bradley says, “our formal point of contact is the government, and in particular the nominated country focal point, typically from a ministry such as environment, planning or foreign affairs.  But as we engage with them, we are quickly realising that others need to be brought in as well. The biggest need is obviously finance, and especially there are questions around how the conditional aspects of NDCs will get funded.”


Bradley’s own role is overseeing the development of the knowledge platforms the Partnership is developing.  These will include a wide range of research partnerships and learning platforms that are still under development. Some of the earliest products are a series of “Navigators” to help countries identify existing resources that apply to their particular needs.

The first of these is the “NDC Funding and Initiatives Navigator”, which helps countries filter among the 528 funds of all shapes and sizes that are currently available to finance one aspect or another of climate and sustainable development.[1]

The second is the “NDC Toolbox Navigator”, which performs a similar function in terms of filtering the 319 tools and platform seemingly available to help with everything from assessing needs and capacity through to monitoring and reporting impacts of projects.[2]

Coming soon is a third navigator, Climate Watch, that will bring together NDC details and climate data with socio-economic, demographic and other information, including where NDC goals may have an impact on other development priorities such as the SGDs. As with the other navigators, the goal is to place as much relevant information as possible in the hands of countries and civil society actors. This tool will include data from the NDC Explorer, which we have featured previously.

The Partnership’s Knowledge Portal also publishes regular “Expert Perspectives” from leading subject matter experts that “explore key issues confronting countries as they move forward with NDC implementation”.   The most recent addition to the library covers how to integrate NDCs and SDGs to advance climate-resilient development.

Bradley says that a key challenge he sees is how to link the needs that countries have identified to actual sources of finance. “There’s this mismatch out there, between developing countries saying they have articulated needs but can’t get money and, vice versa, funders saying they are not seeing investable pipeline.  We need to be able to demonstrate momentum, and countries are seeing positive results in terms of jobs and the environment from implementing projects under the NDCs and SDGs. But we need to take care at the same time that we don’t do the wrong things just so that donors can see results on the ground in terms of projects or whatever.  They need to be the right results for the long term. The processes we put in place need to ensure we are driving inclusive economic development as well as action on mitigation and adaptation.”


Rob Bradley is Director of Knowledge and Research for the NDC Partnership. He has worked for more than 20 years on climate, energy and environment issues in the EU, the USA and in developing countries. Most recently he was a Senior Advisor on clean energy and climate within the United Arab Emirates’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs and was part of the UAE’s negotiating team in Paris.

[1]  A highly unscientific test of the tool revealed its utility, but also the terrifying “agenda jigsaw” that besets these funds and that we have highlighted elsewhere. We filtered for a $1-10 million grant for capacity building for adaptation in agriculture in Ghana – not an uncommon or unreasonable mix of needs, we would have thought.  The 528 funds were now reduced to just one, a USAID fund.  How can it be the case that these myriad funds are so misaligned that a pretty standard set of needs has just a 1/528 chance of getting funded?

[2] Here, perhaps because the search terms seem somewhat wider, our test case – for help with tools to help attract climate investment in Africa at a practitioner level – returned seven results, two being toolkits and five “platforms”

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