Mitigation and adaptation climate change policy cuts across all sectors of the economy and broader national priorities, such as poverty alleviation, sustainable development and economic growth. This paper outlines the evolution of the low-emission development strategies (LEDS) concept in the climate policy discourse and explores the existing strategies, action plans and documents. It defines LEDS as forward-looking national development strategies that encompass climate-resilient economic growth and looks at how they can ensure that they are effective and efficient in delivering intended goals. The aim of the paper is to:

explore the potential purposes of a LEDS to clarify their unique role amongst the various existing national strategies that countries prepare, and provide insights on how a LEDS may be most effectively designed and used to promote economic development while addressing climate change
derive specific insights for good practice in the process of preparing a LEDS by drawing on experience with the preparation of national climate change strategies from available case studies.

The paper examines in-depth seven country case studies from Guyana, Indonesia, Israel, Mexico, Nigeria, Thailand and the UK to pick lessons learned to help advance national development and climate change planning, and potentially also international climate change policy. The key issues examined are:

technical – data collection and handling, and challenges in developing inventories, projections and mitigation cost estimates
institutional – inter-ministerial co-ordination, building on existing reports and strategies, and organising stakeholder participation
policy – how goals are set, how strategies are elaborated to achieve them, and to what extent the interface between development and climate change planning is addressed.

The document suggests the inclusion of the following elements in a LEDS:

a vision or goal to guide policy decisions across development and climate change priorities over the long-term
an assessment of the current major GHG-emitting sectors and socio-economic indicators to determine the way forward
emission projections, mitigation potential and costs to identify mitigation actions
a climate change vulnerability assessment to identify adaptation needs and possible adaptation outcomes
priority mitigation and adaptation programmes, policies and an economic development strategy can identify synergies and trade-offs
financing needs can be important information to communicate to domestic and international stakeholders
institutional arrangements – information on institutions responsible for implementing actions provides clarity on responsibilities across government and contributes to effective policy implementation.

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