Capacity building for climate transparency: neutral ‘means of implementation’ or generating political effects?

Susanne Konrad, Max van Deursen*, Aarti Gupta

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Elaborate transparency systems are now at the core of the 2015 Paris Agreement, with the assumption that this will enhance accountability, trust, and greater climate policy ambition. Much attention is now being devoted to increasing the capacity of developing countries to comply with climate transparency requirements. Contrary to viewing capacity building merely as a neutral ‘means of implementation’, our point of departure here is that capacity building has the potential to shape the nature and direction of climate transparency to be generated by countries. Key unasked questions are: What kind of transparency is facilitated through capacity-building efforts, and to further what climate policy ends? The potential steering effects of capacity building for transparency remain, in our view, largely unexamined. In addressing this research gap, we undertake a synthesis review of diverse perspectives on the ‘what, how and who’ of capacity building for transparency, as identifiable in (i) academic and grey literature; (ii) policy perspectives advanced by developed and developing countries; and (iii) emerging practices in two prominent capacity building for transparency initiatives. We draw on this three-part review to shed light on the scope and extent of climate transparency (to be) generated by developing countries in practice, with implications for the transformative potential of transparency in global climate governance. Key policy insights Transparency about climate actions is central to the 2015 Paris Agreement. Efforts are underway to build capacities of developing countries to comply with transparency requirements. Rather than merely a neutral ‘means of implementation’, capacity building has the potential to influence the scope and extent of transparency generated by countries. To date, the focus has remained on building capacities to report on GHG emissions and mitigation, notwithstanding diverse additional priorities. There is a need for empirical analysis of capacity building’s steering effects in domestic contexts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)557-575
JournalClimate Policy
Issue number5
Early online date18 Oct 2021
Publication statusPublished - 28 May 2022


  • Capacity building
  • Climate policy
  • Enhanced Transparency Framework
  • Paris Agreement
  • United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change


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