NDCs: Navigating Complex Data on Paris Commitments

December 16, 2021

ClimateWatch website screenshot

World Bank NDC Platform Merges with Climate Watch

Countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions to global climate action, or NDCs, are important tools for global development planning and investment. These plans, submitted as part of commitments to the 2015 Paris Agreement, are the main channel for countries to publicly outline their ambition in setting long-term decarbonization goals to keep global temperature rise to below 1.5 degrees and to set forth targets on enhancing climate resilience. Since each NDC varies in structure and scope, synthesizing information from them to assess global ambition on climate is a daunting task.

Climate Watch, hosted by the World Resources Institute (WRI), is a leading climate data repository, with information on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, country policies, and mitigation and adaptation commitments. With over 200,000 visitors annually, it informs a broad audience on the prioritization, development and implementation of climate policies, investments, and targets. Developed with support from the World Bank, Climate Watch is a key tool for translating complex data into concrete climate action.


A joint approach to deliver the most comprehensive data on NDCs

Countries submit their NDCs through the NDC Registry managed by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, an important resource for drawing data on countries’ climate change targets and policies. These policy documents contain a wealth of information that helps development practitioners identify priorities for technical assistance and investment projects.

The NDC process allows countries to customize their climate targets and tailor them according to their own national context. While this allows for a flexible approach to cutting global emissions, the lack of uniformity results in a complicated landscape. For example, not all NDCs use the same baseline year for calculating emissions reductions. Some commit to absolute emissions reductions, others to reductions in relation to “business-as-usual” projections of future economic growth. Additionally, some NDCs outline climate goals for the entire economy, while others highlight actions for only specific sectors. NDCs may also emphasize mitigation over adaptation, and vice versa.

The Enhanced Transparency Framework adopted through the Paris Agreement will require countries to comply with common reporting and review guidelines by 2024. Nonetheless, NDCs are and will continue to be flexible instruments. An organized database with filter functions for sectors and intervention types can help practitioners navigate and benchmark the documents. When the World Bank developed an NDC database and published it on its NDC Platform in late 2016, it quickly became one of the most comprehensive resources on NDCs. Other development partners published similar databases and platforms, such as the German Development Institute (DIE).

When the WRI started to develop Climate Watch in 2016, it aimed to integrate this existing knowledge, filling gaps and presenting climate targets, policies, and actions in an innovative and user-friendly way. The Bank, DIE, and others supported the development of Climate Watch and became members of the Climate Watch Working Group, which guides the formation and enhancement of tools on the platform. Specifically, the Bank shared its comprehensive NDC database for the development of the Climate Watch NDC module.

To avoid redundancies and to direct users to the most-up-to-date climate information, the World Bank NDC Platform with its NDC database has been merged with Climate Watch. The information is accessible under the Climate Watch NDC module.


How Climate Watch works

Climate Watch provides data on global and national emissions trends, climate commitments, and more, using data sources that are officially reported by national governments under the UNFCCC or gathered by reputable institutions and research organizations. Users can visualize and download data using the new Explore NDCsExplore Long-Term Strategies (LTS), and Overview modules, as well as follow the latest NDC submissions with the 2020 NDC Tracker. The database has also recently made its new Compare All Targets module available on Climate Watch and created a Net Zero Tracker.

Below are some examples of modules and features of the platform:

CliCountry Profiles

Sector Profile

Historical GHG Emissions

Country Profiles

Review country profiles to see the greenhouse gas targets set by any country.

Sector Profile: Agriculture

Dive into sector profiles for emissions and climate action trends (currently available for agriculture with more sectors coming soon).

Historical GHG Emissions

Analyze historical GHG emissions and future economic and emissions scenarios.

Explore NDCs

Compare All Targets

Explore LTSs

Explore NDCs

Explore Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) of countries as they strengthen their targets under the Paris Agreement.

Compare All Targets

Compare information on emissions, climate vulnerability, and national climate targets across multiple countries.

Explore LTSs

Track planned actions by mid-century via countries’ Long-term Strategies, and coming soon, a Net Zero Commitments Tracker.


How NDC and GHG data informs development planning and investment

Data on existing climate commitments is an important reference for countries drafting new NDCs, and the type of information Climate Watch provides is essential for governments and development organizations, such as the World Bank. For example:

  • Governments have used Climate Watch to support the drafting of revised NDCs. For example, the updated NDC of Honduras cites the platform in its assessment of the country’s emissions, comparing its total and per-capita emissions with global and regional data. Additionally, the NDC recognizes the World Bank’s assistance in defining NDC implementation pathways through NDC Support Facility funding.
  • The World Bank has mainstreamed NDCs into its regional climate change action plans and its country engagement documents, which are informing the Bank’s investment pipeline. This includes references to NDCs in Systematic Country Diagnostic (SCD) and Country Partnership Framework (CPF) documents, which are prepared for each country every 4-6 years. Since fiscal year 2019, all new SCD and CPF documents reflect the NDCs. Climate Watch data has been a valuable resource, including for the SCDs of Cambodia, Malawi, and Paraguay.
  • Other World Bank publications, such as The World Bank Outlook 2050: Strategic Directions Note, have used Climate Watch to identify global emission trends.

As a member of the Climate Watch Working Group, the World Bank continues to collaborate with WRI on the development and enhancement of new Climate Watch modules, such as “Engage LTS” module which was launched late last year. Looking ahead, the Working Group aims to further improve the user experience and provide more insightful data on climate change, particularly for sectors such as energy, agriculture. Through these continuous updates, the Bank will support Climate Watch in aggregating and synthesizing high-quality climate data for countries to utilize as they increase their ambition to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.


The World Bank NDC Platform was originally developed by Sebastian Wienges and Ana Bucher under the supervision of Stephen Alan Hammer. Detailed analysis of NDCs was provided by Tom Witt, Jiawei Song, Karan Chouksey, Yin Qiu, Yunziyi Lang, and Prajwal Baral.