Knowledge resources for national climate action: An analysis of developing country needs and perspectives

19:00 Tuesday 28 May




Blane Harvey (Canada) 1; Christina Cook (Canada) 2

1 - McGill University; 2 - Independent Researcher


As developing countries move beyond assessments of current and projected climate impacts toward the design and implementation of national climate policies, bilateral and multilateral agencies have invested in a range of knowledge processes and products aimed at providing support. This study takes a closer look at the knowledge resources being developed to support countries, particularly in their design and implementation of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the UNFCCC’s Paris Agreement. It analyzes the current contributions of knowledge resources to planning and decision-making on climate action; countries’ preferred sources of knowledge resources for NDC planning and climate action more broadly; and how national planners – and those who support them – identify and assess knowledge resources in determining their appropriateness for use. It examines differences in perspective across national policy contexts and provides recommendations for more effective design of resources and decision-support processes for supporting national climate action across specific country contexts.


We carried out this research in 2018 through a review of existing literature and a combination of surveys and semi-structured interviews with national government representatives in the global South, and representatives from organizations that are supporting these countries with their NDCs and related climate planning. Further context was added through a study of three case studies of effective knowledge resources for NDC planning. Our analysis tested a novel framework for assessing the usability of knowledge resources – building on existing frameworks from the field of sustainable development.

Results and conclusions

Our results reinforce and expand upon findings from earlier research on the perceived importance of the salience, credibility and, to a lesser extent, legitimacy of knowledge resources to their uptake (Cash et al 2003). They also provide new insights into differences in perspective between least-developing, lower-middle and middle income countries on the most appropriate sources and forms of knowledge resources for informing planning and action. We conclude with nine recommendations for improving the design and mobilization of knowledge resources for decision-making, and supporting countries to make more effective use of evidence in policy development and implementation.