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Alignment to Advance Climate-Resilient Development: Sri Lanka Case Study

Submitted by NAP Global Network 1st May 2020 19:59
Woman with water container at well. Sri Lanka. Photo © Dominic Sansoni / World Bank


Alignment of national-level policy processes under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Agreement and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) can help to increase coherence, efficiency and effectiveness in country efforts to achieve climate-resilient development.

In Sri Lanka, there are clear synergies among the policy processes related to sustainable development, climate change adaptation and disaster risk management, which create opportunities for alignment to occur. This case study presents an overview of the context for climate resilient development in the country, followed by a discussion of the existing synergies and potential entry points for pursuing alignment. 

* Download the full text (see right-hand column) for more detail. A short overview of the briefing note is provided below. ​A full version in French and Spanish is also available on the NAP Global Network website.

Synergies and Linkages Among the Policy Processes in Sri Lanka

A number of linkages have already been made, which create opportunities to find synergies. These include:

The approach to SDG implementation acknowledges linkages between the international agendas. Sri Lanka’s Voluntary National Review (VNR) on the status of implementation of the SDGs begins by making the links between the SDGs, the Paris Agreement and the Sendai Framework for DRR. References to climate change adaptation as a means to achieving the SDGs are highlighted throughout the document, in relation to ending hunger, urban development and good health and well-being, among other goals.

The links between the national adaptation plan (NAP), the nationally determined contribution (NDC) and the SDGs are highlighted in SDG reporting. In Sri Lanka’s VNR, the NAP, the NDC and the disaster management agency are highlighted as critical components in the implementation of SDG13 on climate action. It also notes the role of actions identified in the NAP and the NDC in implementing SDG6 on clean water and sanitation.

The NDC highlights the linkages between the Paris Agreement and the SDGs and are closely aligned with the NAP. The preamble to the commitments in the NDC highlights the importance of a “fair and ambitious” Agreement in achieving the SDGs. The NDC states that the adaptation-related commitments are based on the NAP. Further, there is significant overlap in the sectors identified in the NDC and in the NAP, with seven common sectors (in addition to these, the NAP also covers export agriculture and industry, energy and transportation).

The NAP highlights its consistency with the NDC. There is a section in the NAP which describes how the two documents were developed collaboratively and are complementary elements of Sri Lanka’s response to climate change in the context of the Paris Agreement. It notes that the sectoral commitments in the NDC are captured within the adaptation options identified in the NAP.

The NAP includes a description of how it will contribute to achieving the SDGs. A mapping exercise has been conducted to identify the links between the SDGs and adaptation actions in the NAP sectors. This provides a useful overview of the synergies between the two policy processes.

The National Disaster Management Policy commits to addressing the impacts of climate change on disaster risks. In particular, the policy highlights the need for research programs and promotion of indigenous knowledge on climate change adaptation.

Building on these synergies can facilitate the identification of entry points for alignment, as described in the following section.

Entry Points and Opportunities for Enhanced Alignment

There are four immediate entry points to build on these synergies and increase strategic alignment:

  • Reviewing and updating the NDC and the NAP. As mentioned, the review and update of both the NDC and the NAP will be completed in the coming year. This represents a key opportunity to build on the existing synergies to increase alignment of the two policy documents.
  • Development of the NPSSD. Given that the NPSSD is in the development phase, an effort can be made to reflect the content of the updated NDC and NAP in this document (and vice versa) starting from the linkage analysis that has already been completed in the NAP document. This could also form a basis for improved integration of climate change in the next development vision for the post-2025 period.
  • Monitoring and evaluation. The institutional arrangements for monitoring and evaluation (M&E) related to the NDC are in the process of being established. Currently, the main focus is on mitigation; however, the CCS is working with these actors to raise awareness of the importance of adaptation monitoring within the mandate for these committees.
  • Provincial adaptation planning processes. The adaptation planning processes that are being initiated at provincial level provide an additional opportunity to enhance alignment. By integrating adaptation into planning, provincial governments can articulate their role in implementing the NAP, as well as their contribution to the adaptation commitments in the NDC and the achievement of adaptation-related elements in the SDGs.

Lessons Learnt

Key Messages

  • Sri Lanka’s policy documents are already making the links between sustainable development, climate change and disaster risk reduction.
  • The iterative nature of the nationally determined contributions (NDC) and national adaptation plan (NAP) processes creates opportunities to increase alignment—upcoming updates to these policy documents represent a key entry point for better aligning the two processes in Sri Lanka.
  • When policy processes are led by the same ministry—in this case, the Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment, which is responsible for sustainable development and climate change—the process of alignment is more straightforward.
  • There are considerable efficiencies that can be gained through alignment in the establishment of key systems (such as monitoring & evaluation systems) and processes, including sub-national planning processes.


Currently, Sri Lanka is on its way from informal to strategic alignment. The actors involved in the relevant policy processes are increasingly sharing information, and the various policy documents identify the synergies among the different processes, in terms of their objectives and areas of focus. There are considerable opportunities to increase alignment, particularly in relation to development and update of some of the key policies and mechanisms for climate-resilient development, as well as establishment of systems for planning, monitoring and evaluating climate action. The fact that sustainable development and climate change are under the responsibility of a single ministry may facilitate coordination and collaboration. Further, Sri Lanka is in the process of applying for adaptation planning readiness support from the Green Climate Fund, which may provide resources for taking the next steps identified above. 

Further Resources


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