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Capacity Building


Capacity building refers to the process by which individuals, organizations or structures obtain, improve and retain the skills, knowledge, tools, equipment or other resources to do their work competently. Addressing correctly the threat that is climate change requires:

  • The capacity for all to understand the nature of the climate problem at its global scale, but also at its national and local scale. There is a need to install monitoring tools and to gather data informing researchers and decision-makers on the reality of climate change in all regions of the world. There is a need to inform the wider population of the global threat and local impacts that they are or will face. There is a need to educate administrators and decision-makers on how climate change needs to be included in all aspects of their policies.  

  • The capacity to build strategies and implement action at all levels of society. Administrations need to adapt their structures to include climate change in their governance. They also should have access to the resources, technologies and skills required for them to mitigate their GHG emissions and to adapt to the effects of climate change. 


The capacity to analyze, build consensus on and defend personal interests, especially in

climate change negotiation processes. NGOs, civil societies, companies, researchers,

practitioners and representatives of state should have the means to understand, follow

and participate in decision-making processes in a fair way.


Capacity building under the UN climate change regime takes place on three levels:

  • At the individual level, activities focus on attitude and behaviour shift, knowledge, training and awareness-raising (see also Action for Climate Empowerment);

  • At the institutional level, there is a focus on organizational performances and capabilities, on adaptation abilities of organizations and on promoting cooperation between different stakeholders;

  • At the systemic level activities create enabling environments through economic and regulatory policies as well as frameworks in which institutions and individuals operate.

Various work streams and events exist with the UNFCCC framework to address capacity-building:

  • The Paris Committee on Capacity Building (PCCB) addresses current and emerging gaps in capacity-building in developing countries. 

  • The Durban Forum is an annual meeting organized during the intersessionals, and bringing together stakeholders involved in capacity-building. It reviews the work done by the PCCB. 

  • The Capacity-Building Hub is a space in the margin COPs, dedicated to representation, sharing and collaboration of various stakeholders in the field of capacity-building. 

  • Other events are organized at COPs, intersessionals and throughout the year on capacity-building by the UNFCCC secretariat and by other stakeholders.


Discover all the work streams here.

The Global South is supported throughout the process. Financial and technical assistance is offered by developed countries toward implementing frameworks, as requested in the Paris Agreement. Gaps in the institutional capacity of developing countries (such as those in government staffing and training, or the mainstreaming of the climate agenda) are being identified through observations, assessments, and data collection, and developing countries are then supported by the UNFCCC through mechanisms such as climate finance and nationally determined contributions. 



In 1992, the UNFCCC was established, with provisions on education, training and awareness. These provisions were later included in the Kyoto Protocol (1997), the first climate agreement. At COP7 (2001), the UNFCCC launched two frameworks to support and guide the implementation of capacity-building in developing countries.

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Adapted from:, credit: UNFCCC

The Durban Forum on Capacity-Building was launched in 2011, at COP17; followed the next year by the creation of a Capacity-Building Portal that collects data, knowledge and resources on the topic (COP18, 2012).


The Paris Committee on Capacity-Building (PCCB) was created at COP21, in Paris. At the same time, a request for a Capacity-Building Initiative for Transparency was made by the Parties. 

Article 11 of the Paris Agreement contains provisions on capacity-building. 


The Capacity-Building Hub was launched at COP24 (2018) in Katowice and has been active since. 

At COP25 (2019) in Madrid, the UNFCCC Capacity-Building Framework and the PCCB were reviewed. This was the occasion to take stock of what worked and what failed, and to suggest improvements for the future.


Under the UNFCCC, countries have to report on their mitigation and adaptation activities in a process called “The Global Stocktake”. Next stocktake will be done in 2023. Experience revealed that many developing countries face challenges in complying with these requirements. 

Common challenges include the lack of institutional and technical capacity, the lack of political buy-in, difficulties in retaining the expertise, understaffing, inadequate specific legislative and/or policy support for climate change initiatives, lack of national statistics and data collection agreements, lack of national funds to maintain sustainable institutional systems. 

Providing technical, institutional and financial support to developing countries for them to build the capacity to report transparently on their action against climate change is the current challenge that parties are confronted with.


Global call for higher capacity building actions under the Paris Agreement.

Capacity-building Portal.

Capacity-building : Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform.

Y. Dagnet, N. Cogswell, N. Bird, M. Bouyé, M. Rocha (2019). “Building Capacity for the Paris Agreement Enhanced Transparency Framework: What can we learn from countries’ experiences and UNFCCC processes?” Working Paper. Project for Advancing Climate Transparency (PACT). Available here.


ClimateADAPT (2019). Capacity building on climate change adaptation. (online) Available at:


ecbi (2018). Pocket Guide to Capacity Building for Climate Change, 2018 Edition. (online) Available at:


UNFCCC (2019). Capacity-building in the negotiations. (online) Available at:


GEF (2020). Capacity-building Initiative for Transparency (CBIT). (online) Available at:


Y. Daniet, N. Cogswell (2019). INSIDER: Building Capacity for the Implementation of the Paris Agreement's Enhanced Transparency Framework. World Resource Institute. (online) Available at:

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