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Agricultural monitoring and evaluation systems: what can we learn for the MRV of agricultural NAMAs?

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Mechanisms for support to Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs) have potential to upscale adoption of climate-smart agricultural practices in developing countries. Discussions of both NAMAs and agricultural mitigation have focused on methodologies for estimating emission reductions and data requirements for MRV. But the quality and credibility of NAMA MRV is also determined by institutional processes for MRV. There has been little documentation of agricultural monitoring and evaluation systems in developing countries and no previous analysis of whether they provide a credible basis for MRV of climate impacts.

This paper describes an existing MRV system for a large scale grass cultivation programme in China and explores attributes of the MRV system that are consistent with the principles for credible MRV in existing UNFCCC mechanisms. Based on the case study, the paper suggests that agricultural MRV systems may be credible where (i) their procedures are encoded in explicit rules that are transparently communicated, (ii) include provisions for quality control and quality assurance, and (iii) are based on institutional arrangements that provide accountability in ways appropriate to the national context. We conclude that design of agricultural NAMAs would benefit from considering existing agricultural MRV systems and assessing the extent to which they are able to provide an institutional basis for credible MRV in national and international climate policy contexts.