Aligning NAP and NDC
for coherent Climate
Adaptation Action

Nationally determined contributions (NDC) communicate a country’s contribution to meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement. The national adaptation plan (NAP) process can help to identify NDC adaptation goals and translate them into action. Both are complementary processes and should ideally be aligned to strengthen national climate change adaptation.

The National Adaptation Plan (NAP) process is a country-driven process where national governments analyze current and future climate risks and deliberate with stakeholders how the risks can be addressed. The process provides a basis for countries to identify and prioritize medium-and long-term adaptation options and to implement them through respective strategies. Established in 2010 by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as part of the Cancún Adaptation Framework, the NAP process complements the existing short-term national adaptation programmes of action (NAPAs) by providing a systematic approach to plan for adaptation at the national level. The NAP process can include the formulation of a document (the NAP document), but as a process it also includes stakeholder engagement, ongoing policy coordination and capacity building. The NAP process is mentioned in the Paris Agreement as a means for all countries, while its initial Technical Guidelines from 2012 were designed especially for least developed countries (LDCs).

The term ‘national adaptation planning’ is often used synonymously to the term ‘NAP process’.

A general overview of NAPs is provided by this FAQ section of the NAP Global Network.

For further information on the NAP process, refer to the UNFCCCs NAP portal and the support platform NAP Central.

The NAP process is meant to reduce vulnerability, build adaptive capacity and mainstream adaptation to climate change into general and sector-specific development planning processes, including tracking of progress. It can be used to coordinate adaptation planning and actions across ministries and other government and non-government stakeholders and to facilitate implementation of adaptation actions towards climate resilient development.

In 2012, the UNFCCC Least Developed Countries Expert Group (LEG) published the NAP Technical Guidelines, outlining the key steps involved in the process. A range of supplementary materials offer a more in-depth coverage of specific steps of the NAP process.

Within its NAP support, GIZ is closely collaborating with different actors, such as NAP Global Network (NAP GN) and the NAP Global Support Programme (NAP-GSP). Both support developing countries, and in the case of NAP GSP especially LDCs to advance their NAP processes.

In this context, important tools for the NAP process are:

  • The Stocktaking for National Adaptation Planning (SNAP) Tool helps in assessing a country’s current national adaptation planning capacities and in identifying strategic goals for NAPs that feed into the preparation of a country specific NAP Roadmap. The SNAP tool is one of the most widely used tools of GIZ’s support instruments for the NAP process. For further details, see the SNAP factsheets in English and in French.

Parties to the UNFCCC agreed to submit intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) in the run-up to the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris. Those INDCs outlined Parties’ intended contributions towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Several countries also included adaptation in their contributions.
Unless countries chose to amend their INDCs prior to ratifying the Paris Agreement, these documents became their first nationally determined contributions (NDCs). As of 25 March 2020, 175 NDCs have been submitted, 131 of which include adaptation and 57 specifically referring to the NAP process. These figures are retrieved from our Tool for Assessing Adaptation in the NDCs (TAAN) that provides regularly updated information on adaptation content in NDC submissions.

New or updated NDCs shall be submitted every five years (2020, 2025, 2030, etc.) to the UNFCCC secretariat, each time setting more ambitious targets for climate action than the previous time.

According to Article 7.9 of the Paris Agreement, all Parties shall, as appropriate, engage in adaptation planning processes.

Further, they should periodically report an adaptation communication to the UNFCCC secretariat, as part of or alongside other documents, such as a NAP, NDC and/or national communication. In countries where adaptation is included in the NDC, it should be aligned with the NAP process to avoid duplication and ensure coherent implementation. Whereas the NDC is a country’s pledge and may outline adaptation goals (the ‘what’), the NAP process is a domestic planning process that can set out ‘how’ NDC adaptation goals can be implemented.

The following graphic illustrates how NAPs and NDCs are interlinked.

The NAP Process is an iterative approach consisting of four elements (see technical guidelines by the Least Developed Country Expert Group (LEG). It can be tailored to specific national circumstances and can support the implementation and future iterations of NDC adaptation goals. For example, the groundwork for the NAP process (Element A) and the preparatory elements (Element B) could take the NDC goals and priorities as a starting point or help inform them for successive NDC updates. Moreover, identified adaptation-mitigation co-benefits and synergies could be a means of supporting a more strategic and effective approach to accessing and mobilizing climate finance for the implementation of the NDC and the NAP process. These linkages are also explored in a GIZ study on ‘The Role of the NAP Process in Translating NDC Adaptation Goals into Action’.


Aligning the NAP process with the NDC can accelerate enhanced adaptation action:

  1. The NAP process can inform possible future iterations of the NDC adaptation goals as well as ‘how’ NDC adaptation goals are implemented.
  2. The NDC can serve as an overarching vision and framework for the NAP process.
  3. NDC adaptation components raise the profile of the NAP and increase political support for adaptation.
  4. Linking the NAP process with the development of future NDCs can support the identification of adaptation-mitigation co-benefits.
  5. When integrating it within national sustainable development planning, the NAP process can help align the NDC to broader sustainable development goals as well as other agendas such as the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Convention on Biological Diversity.
  6. Establishing coherent governance structures at the national level by linking NAP processes and NDCs can help to avoid duplication of efforts and make efficient use of limited resources.
  7. Linking the NAP process with NDC implementation facilitates access to finance, technology and capacity building for adaptation.
  8. Aligning the NAP and NDC processes can help streamline countries’ transparency frameworks.


The alignment of these two policy processes thus has important implications for national climate change policy governance and coordination. It enables streamlining of a country’s transparency framework and can support the preparation of adaptation-related reporting to the UNFCCC. Beyond that, it can also promote general coherence with the Sustainable Development Goals and other agendas, such as the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Convention on Biological Diversity. However, for truly ambitious climate action, it remains crucial to take a holistic approach, explicitly acknowledging the interlinkages between adaptation and mitigation, which are supported by the alignment of NDC and NAP processes and the consideration of further agendas.

More information on the NAP process is also available under Mainstreaming adaptation and at NAP Global Network. Further information on NDCs can be found at the NDC Partnership.

This alignment brief provides a useful overview of NDC and NAP alignment.