More Countries Including Nature in Their Climate Action Plans, but Step Change Still Needed to Secure 1.5°C Pathway - WWF Report

Posted on November, 05 2021

New analysis, commissioned by WWF, finds a clear increase from 82% to 92% in the proportion of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) that include nature.WWF calls for world leaders at COP26 to ensure nature is at the forefront of efforts to tackle the climate crisis alongside emissions cuts.
Glasgow, UK (5 November 2021) - 92% of countries’ new climate action plans now include measures to tackle nature loss, according to a new report published today by WWF at the Glasgow COP26 climate talks, an encouraging sign that more countries are recognizing the crucial role of nature-based solutions in addressing the global climate crisis.

Nature-based solutions are initiatives that protect, restore and sustainably manage land and ocean ecosystems such as forests, peatlands, wetlands, savannahs, coral reefs and mangroves, while simultaneously addressing other societal challenges. It’s estimated that they could provide up to 30% of the climate change mitigation needed to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.

The report, NDCs - A Force for Nature?, finds that 105 out of 114 enhanced Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) submitted by 12 October included nature-based solutions. NDCs are the way the parties to the Paris Agreement communicate their climate plans and are critical to achieving its goal to limit global warming to 1.5°C. 

According to the report, 96 NDCs included nature-based solutions in the context of mitigation measures and 91 in the context of adaptation plans. This reflects a positive trend compared to previous submissions, up from 82% when WWF last assessed countries’ commitments in July. 

Dr Stephen Cornelius, Chief Adviser on Climate Change at WWF, said: 

“It is encouraging that more countries are rightly recognising nature as a climate hero as there is no pathway to limit global warming to 1.5°C without protecting and restoring nature. The climate crisis and nature loss are two sides of the same coin and we cannot tackle one without the other.  


“It’s vital that, alongside slashing carbon emissions, the COP26 climate summit must inspire countries to maximise the potential of nature in their climate plans and deliver the financing to back this up. Failure to do so will undermine efforts to avert the worst impacts of climate change.  


“This is the decade when we must collectively limit climate change and restore nature. Nature-based solutions can not only help to reduce greenhouse gas levels, but also protect people and wildlife and create good jobs.” 

More than three times as many NDCs now refer to the Sustainable Development Goals, the Convention on Biological Diversity, or other global processes. There was also a large increase in the number of NDCs explicitly referring to Indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs)  – up by 88%. This demonstrates increasing recognition of their essential role as custodians of more than 80% of our planet’s biodiversity.

The analysis also surfaces some issues and challenges, both methodological and also regarding a lack of ambition. The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has yet to fully recognize the critical contribution of nature-based solutions in addressing the climate crisis. Guidance around the development and nomination of NDCs does not currently include a call for parties to maximize the potential of nature and nature-based solutions, and the role of oceans and coastal ecosystems in contributing to mitigation and adaptation is also insufficiently emphasized.

Gavin Edwards, Global Coordinator, Nature lead at COP26 for WWF International, said: 

“While more and more governments are committing to take action on nature as part of their climate commitments, there are still too few nature-based solutions being pursued. Given that nature could contribute up to 30% of the climate solutions needed to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement and prevent runaway climate change, this has to change - and fast. There is no viable way to limit global warming to 1.5C without action on nature.

“Governments meeting in Glasgow have announced major commitments on forests and land use in the last few days. But this is only part of the picture. Nature must be recognized in the COP outcome, and governments must commit to urgently scale up and implement nature-based solutions.”

WWF is calling for all countries to continue to strengthen their national climate plans and help raise global ambition by better incorporating nature-based solutions, land use and agriculture in their enhanced NDCs in this and future rounds of submissions.

Decisions adopted at COP26 should include a clear request for countries to maximize the potential of nature in their NDCs and other national climate plans, for example by including nature-based solutions, land use and agriculture. Governments must ensure new and additional financing for nature-based solutions, which should be increased to at least 30% of overall climate finance.


For more information, additional content or to arrange an interview, please contact: 

Karen Richards: 7775 552595


The full report is available to view here

  • The report will be launched at an event at the WWF Pavilion in the Blue Zone at COP26 at 09:30 GMT tomorrow. Speakers include Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF International; Anne Larigauderie, Executive Secretary, IPBES; Abraham Kipchirchir Barsosio, County Executive Committee Member for Land, Environment and Climate Change, Elgeyo Marakwet County, Kenya; George Foster, Deputy Director - Strategy, Campaigns and Engagement, International Biodiversity & Climate, UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; Haseebullah Bakhtary, Consultant, Climate Focus
  • A livestream will be available at

*Globally, Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use (AFOLU) activities emissions from human activities globally 2007-2016 accounted for around 13% of carbon dioxide (CO2), 44% of methane (CH4), and 81% of nitrous oxide (N2O). This is ~23% of total global net anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions according to the IPCC Special Report on Land (2019).


About the report:

  • Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) are country climate pledges under the Paris Agreement.
  • Countries submit NDCs to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) through the NDC registry.
  • WWF commissioned consultants from Climate Focus to analyse new and updated country NDC submissions between 19 September 2019 and 12 October 2021 and compared this with their previous submission.  
  • The 12 October cut-off date was chosen to align with the UNFCCC Secretariat’s updated NDC Synthesis Report
  • 140 Parties to the UNFCCC (which includes the EU-27 representing 27 member states of the European Union) have submitted 114 updated or revised NDCs.
  • Parties with an updated NDC assessed in this report represent 42% of global emissions. 
  • The analysis identified references to ‘nature’ and ‘nature-based solutions’; assessed the quality of these references and how the integration progressed compared to the previous NDC.


Key findings: 

  1. Clear increase from 82% to 92% of NDCs that included nature. 105 out of 114 (92%) of enhanced NDCs include nature-based solutions (NbS): 96 in the context of mitigation measures, 91 in the context of adaptation plans, with an overlap of 82 in both mitigation and adaptation. This reflects a positive trend compared to previous submissions. The number of NDCs that make explicit reference to NbS approaches has increased from 94 to 105 (by 12%), most of them in mitigation measures.  

  2. 21 more countries include quantitative targets. Out of the 96 NDCs that include NbS for mitigation, 69 have quantified these as numerical targets, mostly for the forest sector. The comparison with previous submissions also shows a significant positive trend, with 21 additional countries including quantitative targets.  

  3. Significant increase in inclusion of wetlands, mangroves and oceans. Most NDCs refer to a broad range of ecosystems, including forests, agricultural lands, mangroves, wetlands and marine ecosystems. There was a significant increase in the number of NDCs that mention wetlands, mangroves and marine ecosystems compared to previous version. 51 updated NDCs mentioned wetlands compared to 32 previous NDCs, 43 mentioned mangroves compared to 29 previous NDCs, and 60 mentioned marine ecosystems compared to 47 previously. 

  4. Some NDCs dropped, while additional updated NDCs included nature in national plans. 87 updated NDCs present national plans and policies in relation to the implementation of NbS, mostly for the forest sector. Overall, this is nine more than in the previous NDCs. However, ten updated NDCs dropped references to national policies for NbS that were mentioned in the previous versions, while 19 updated NDCs added specific mention of national policies for NbS where they had not earlier. 

  5. More than three times as many NDCs refer to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) or other global processes. 46 NDCs refer to global processes and agreements, such as the SDGs, the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands or the United Nation Convention to Combat Desertification, in the context of NbS. This reflects a large increase compared to the previous round, with 32 additional NDCs making such references.

  6. The number of NDCs explicitly referring to Indigenous peoples and other local communities grew by 88%  30 NDCs explicitly refer to the Indigenous peoples and local communities in relation to the development and implementation of NbS. This is an increase of 14 NDCs, which demonstrates increasing attention to their essential role in the context of NbS.  


WWF’s #NDCsWeWant Checklist aims to shine a spotlight on all kinds of progress, encourage best practices, identify key challenges and call out laggards, with the goal of increasing the overall ambition of the NDC process. 


About WWF  
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