Capacity building for climate transparency is generally understood as a neutral means to ensure all countries have the capacity to report information to the UNFCCC. However, an earlier TRANSGOV article problematized this proposition and highlighted that capacity building may in practice steer the type of transparency generated by countries and influence politically contested discussions over who is to be transparent about what to whom. In particular, the article interrogated whether and how capacity building initiatives steer or preempt options for developing countries trying to navigate between adhering to global transparency provisions (which emphasize transparency of emissions and mitigation action) versus furthering domestic aims (which may relate more to generating information on adaptation, loss and damage, and finance).
The article called for empirical analysis of capacity building in practice. This blogpost takes a next step in this line of research and presents a database of capacity building for climate transparency projects as a first step in taking this research agenda forward and as a resource for others to use as well.
Capacity building and climate reporting requirements
Climate transparency provisions for developing countries have become more demanding with the adoption of the 2015 Paris Agreement. From 2024 onwards, developing countries (with the exception of Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States) need to biennially report to the UNFCCC on a range of topics. However, not all developing countries have the capacity to meet reporting provisions under the new system. Indeed, reporting can be a challenging affair, involving data collection, management, and compilation across various sectors of government.
In response to developing countries’ capacity concerns, a Capacity-building Initiative for Transparency (CBIT) has now been established under the UNFCCC to help developing countries, including Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States, to meet reporting requirements. The CBIT has been set up as a trust fund under the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) with substantial resources from developed countries at its disposal.
Climate reporting under the Paris Agreement consists of four areas: reporting on greenhouse gas (GHG) inventories, mitigation actions, climate impacts and adaptation actions, and financial and other support provided, needed and received. For developing countries, only the first two of these areas of reporting are mandatory. Yet, adaptation and finance are important for some developing countries, and the Paris Agreement outlines that countries should report on these areas as well.
What capacities are prioritized in practice?
The CBIT allows for funds to be requested for building reporting capacities for each of the four areas of reporting. With the CBIT now underway for several years, it is timely to ask which areas of reporting are being prioritized by developing countries in requesting funding.
GEF’s annual CBIT update reports give some indication that mandatory reporting requirements are prioritized, but that adaptation and finance are also addressed. However, the GEF reports only give a macro and summary estimate and do not allow for disaggregation.
To allow for a more comprehensive and robust assessment, we have now developed a database with information on the thematic focus of CBIT projects. Importantly, this database uses as its data source the approved Project Identification Forms (PIF) submitted by countries applying for CBIT funds. This is a rich source of primary information to more fully assess the areas of capacity building for which support is being requested. Each of these PIF documents contain project components and outputs, including the amount of funding requested for each.
Our database takes the first step to classify each project component based on the four key pillars of reporting (GHG inventory, mitigation, adaptation, support) and identifies the corresponding amount of funding requested. A key finding is that the lion share of requested CBIT funding is for developing capacities to report on GHG inventories and mitigation action. The respective sums are 25.9 million USD for GHG inventory reporting, 24.4 million USD for mitigation reporting, 8.0 million USD for reporting on adaptation and climate impacts, and 5.6 million USD for reporting on support needed and received. Some project components and outputs do not specify any of the four pillars, and were classified as undefined amounting to 25.5 million USD. The observed pattern of prioritization of GHG inventory and mitigation holds across time, regions, and also among Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States. Among the implementing agencies that execute the CBIT projects, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is the odd one out, with considerable support being requested for adaptation projects. This is likely due to the fact that the Food and Agriculture Organization is specialized in the Agriculture, Forestry and Land Use (AFOLU) sector, which is a priority adaptation sector in many developing countries.
The database shows that most capacity building resources under the CBIT are requested for GHG inventory and mitigation reporting. As discussed in a previous blogpost, this may not be surprising given that these are the mandatory categories of reporting. Yet it does raise questions as to whether resources are used in line with national priorities. Indeed, developing countries have been calling for reporting on adaptation and support in the negotiations. For example, in a submission for a negotiation session on transparency in 2017, South Africa stated that reporting information to track adaptation “represents a very important enhancement of the transparency framework.”
Further empirical in-depth analysis is needed to see how developing countries balance domestic needs against global expectations. The database and dashboard presented here can facilitate taking this next step.
The CBIT dashboard and database can be downloaded here and used freely (if cited) for future research.
For any queries, please contact the author, TRANSGOV PhD researcher Max van Deursen, at Max.firstname.lastname@example.org. Suggested citation:
Deursen, van M. (2022). Database of CBIT projects (Version V20211228) [Data set]. TRANSGOV. https://transgovdotorg.files.wordpress.com/2022/03/transgov-database-of-cbit-projects_v20211228.xlsx
 Susanne Konrad, Max van Deursen & Aarti Gupta (2021) Capacity building for climate transparency: neutral ‘means of implementation’ or generating political effects? Climate Policy, DOI: 10.1080/14693062.2021.1986364
 South Africa (2017). Submission by South Africa to the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement on Transparency of Action and Support. Retrieved from: https://www4.unfccc.int/sites/SubmissionsStaging/Documents/591_323_131338773779079456-Submission%20by%20the%20Republic%20of%20South%20Africa%20on%20Transparency%20of%20Action%20and%20Support.pdf