Supporting climate change negotiators from Least Developed Countries

IIED works to strengthen the position of Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in international climate negotiations. We are working to build the capacity, knowledge and expertise of LDC negotiators to ensure more equitable outcomes for the countries they represent. Read on to find out more information about the project and its aims.


Achala C Abeysinghe, Principal researcher

Participants meet at a side event during the 18th Conference of the Parties, Doha 2012

The 48 countries in the Least Developed Countries (LDC) group are the most vulnerable to climate change because of their poverty, economic vulnerability and lack of relevant capacity to respond effectively to climate change impacts. The decisions made at the global level have severe affects on LDCs. However, most of the important global decisions on climate change policies are being adopted and implemented without proper participation from the LDCs. This is partly because their negotiators lack resources and often the necessary capacity to effectively represent their countries in the global process.

As early as 2001 we supported senior LDC negotiators to create their own negotiating bloc, the LDC Group. And ever since then we have been working closely with this group, providing legal, technical and strategic advice in the negotiations, building its expertise in key topics by providing research and analysis, and building the Group’s capacity to represent their interests in negotiations. IIED has organised capacity-building workshops, convened learning spaces, provided logistical and administrative support, helped establish an online presence for the group and provided communications-related advice.

Negotiations under the UNFCCC regime continue at an unrelenting pace with complex agendas, new bodies, and a multitude of technically detailed and interconnected issues. Under the Durban Platform, launched in 2011, the Parties agreed to work towards a protocol, another legally binding instrument, or an outcome with legal force. The agreement is to be completed by 2015 and to enter into force starting 2020; and as deadlines approach the negotiating process will become yet more demanding.

The LDC group believes that the UNFCCC is the best forum for delivering fair and equitable solutions to addressing the climate change problems at global level. But the process is now quite broad, involves proliferating forums and is not limited to the climate change convention negotiating sessions. So, to be effective, LDCs need to engage with related processes including climate finance, adaptation and other aspects of the international climate regime.

Least Developed Countries map from Wikimedia Commons 2006

IIED’s current project aims to:

  • increase understanding of key legal and technical issues and build stronger representation of LDC views in the UNFCCC process;
  • increase LDCs’ capacity to contribute to global climate change negotiations;
  • ensure better coordination of the LDC group; and
  • increase the group’s representation at other forums including high level political meetings.

The project runs alongside, but is distinct from, the European Capacity Building Initiative (ecbi) training and support programme.

Capacity building support

We aim to ensure that the LDC group is not left behind when the crucial decisions are being made at a global level. Capacity building support for new negotiators brings them up to speed, to ensure the better use of more senior negotiator capacity within the group.

Our activities include:

  • supporting the LDC Group core team (a group of 10 individual negotiators) to become subject specialists and represent the group in the negotiating rooms;
  • capacity-building workshops for junior negotiators;
  • annual strategy meetings to plan for the year ahead, focusing on UNFCCC decisions;
  • strategy meetings during the UNFCCC intersessional meetings and at the annual Conference of the Parties;
  • administrative support to enhance the LDC group’s coordination in the negotiations; and
  • support for communication and outreach activities of the group.

Research and analytical support

Climate change negotiations are characterised by frequently emerging issues, technical jargon, carefully crafted wording and continuous references to various legal principles and provisions. This proliferation of scientific, technical and legal issues, institutions and processes has prolonged and increased the work burden for already strained negotiators in the LDC group.

The Group needs strong research inputs to strengthen its arguments in the negotiations, and IIED strives to provide these. Even the most senior negotiators require technical advice and support to keep up with the pace of continuous and complex scientific, policy and legal information flows. IIED’s research and analytical support is an essential component in our support for the LDC group.

IIED produces an LDC paper series to provide research support and to ensure negotiators are well prepared with the facts, figures and analysis they need to drive effective decisions. The LDC paper series gives negotiators an overview of key issues, as well as a grasp of important details, and highlights arguments they can use to advance their interests in negotiations. Selected papers are summarised into briefings to reach out to a wider audience beyond the LDC group, and raise broader awareness of LDC concerns in the climate negotiations. The series is produced in partnership with the ecbi Publications and Policy Analysis Unit led by IIED's Visiting Fellow, Anju Sharma.

2015 series:

Communication and outreach support

We provide communication and outreach support to the LDC Group to ensure it is vocal and visible. IIED has helped the group establish a website which contains all the group submissions, statements and the group positions; country-specific information can be found under each country link.

Representing the LDC group in other global forums

We support the LDC group in other global forums so it can work more closely to offer compelling evidence and ideas to post-2015 processes. For example, processes related to Millennium Development Goals and Sustainable Development Goals need to better recognise and support the LDCs’ own views. For these activities we liaise closely with the LDC group leaders at the UN level. The broad objectives are to:

  • help LDCs better understand their common and diverse opportunities and needs for future sustainable development;
  • help LDCs to improve their inputs to a wide range of UN and other international processes, notably on Sustainable Development Goals, post-2015 processes, and the Green Economy;
  • help the international community to understand what it should do for, and what it will gain from, improved attention to LDC country needs;
  • improve international support for implementing global decisions that LDCs critically need – notably decisions related to capacity building and finance.


A guide to transparency under the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement, Achala Abeysinghe, Subhi Barakat, Yamide Dagnet, Gebru Jember Endalew, Bubu Pateh Jallow, Camilla H More, Tshewang Dorji, Cleo Verkuijl (2017) Guide

Least Developed Countries' experiences with the UNFCCC technology mechanism, Brianna Craft, Stella Gama, Thinley Namgyel (2017) Issue paper

Action, ambition, investment: what success at COP23 looks like for LDCs, Achala C Abeysinghe, Brook Dambacher, Rebecca Byrnes, Gebru Jember Endalew, Subhi Barakat (2017) IIED Briefing

A burden to share? Addressing unequal climate impacts in the Least Developed Countries by David Ciplet, Timmons Roberts, Pa Ousman Jarju, Achala C. Abeysinghe, Alexis Durand, Daniel Kopin, Olivia Santiago, Keith Madden and Sophie Purdom, IIED Briefing

Further resources

Low-carbon resilient development in the Least Developed Countries by Susannah Fisher, IIED Briefing

LDC chair Gebru Jember Endalew, looks ahead to the UNFCCC negotiations in Bonn in November 2017

The least developed countries, equity, and a brave new world by Brianna Craft

LDC negotiator Batu Uprety reflects on Nepal's role in the climate negotiations over the years, culminating in chairing the LDC Group in 2013-14 with IIED's support, in Climate Change: Two Years On LDC Group Chair

LDC negotiator M. Hafijul Islam Khan co-authors A Train to Paris: Liability and Compensation Concerns for the 2015 Climate Agreement