The Cancun Agreements

An assessment by the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

key steps of the United Nations Climate Change Conference


Reducing and limiting greenhouse gas emissions

During 2010, many countries submitted their existing
plans for controlling greenhouse gas emissions to
the Climate Change Secretariat and these proposals
have now been formally acknowledged under the
Climate Change Convention. Industrial countries
presented their plans in the shape of economy-wide
targets to reduce emissions, mainly up to 2020, while
developing nations proposed ways to limit their growth
of emissions in the shape of plans of action.

During 2010, many developing countries submitted their plans to limit the growth of their emissions, with appropriate and adequate support from industrialized countries in the form of technology cooperation, finance and help in capacity-building. These plans are known as NAMAs. Capacity-building means strengthening the national institutional and personnel resources needed to achieve developing country adaptation and mitigation objectives.


NAMAs are grounded in the overall objective of ensuring sustainable development, and are aimed at achieving a deviation in emissions relative to what would otherwise be ‘business as usual’ emissions by 2020. A compilation of these NAMAs has meanwhile been officially published.


The Cancun decisions now provide a formal international registry for these plans and strengthen the ways and means both to see them to fruition and to make the effort and support for that effort transparent.


Specifically, those NAMAs where countries require international support in the form of technology, finance or capacity-building, will be recorded in a registry, where the action and the support for that action can be clearly matched. The registry will be maintained by the UNFCCC secretariat.


Those actions where countries are taking action but are not asking for international support for it will be recorded in a separate section of the registry.


Developing countries will provide information on the actions for which they are seeking support, whereas industrialized countries will provide information on available support for these actions. Supported actions will be measured, reported and verified internationally, whereas for domestically supported actions this will be done at the national level. The intention is that the countries which provide the support, and the countries which receive the support, are both satisfied that adequate resources are going to the right place for the right reasons and are having the best impact.


It was also agreed that developing countries will also increase reporting of progress towards their mitigation objectives, although in a differentiated way to that of industrialized countries. A process of international consultation and analysis of these biennial reports will be established.


The guidelines for matching actions and support, reporting, international consultation and analysis, as well as for measurement, reporting and verification are all to be developed during 2011, and views on the detailed guidelines were submitted to the secretariat by 28 March, 2011.


Additionally, developing countries are encouraged under the agreement to draw up low-carbon development strategies or plans.

Nationally appropriate mitigation
actions by developing countries to
be recorded in a registry.

Developing countries to increase
reporting of progress towards their
mitigation objectives.

January 2011
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