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Learn about NAMAs

The proposition for Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs) was developed with the Bali Action Plan in 2007. Parties discussed ways for developing countries to contribute to the global efforts of fighting climate change.

As a part of the outcome of the Bali negotiations, NAMAs were introduced as:

‘Nationally appropriate mitigation actions by developing country Parties in the context of sustainable development, supported and enabled by technology, financing and capacity-building, in a measurable, reportable and verifiable manner’ (Bali action Plan, 2007: 1 (b) (ii)).

NAMAs are actions initiated by developing countries’ national governments and pursue two objectives: firstly, to contribute to domestic sustainable development and, secondly, to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions below business as usual levels by 2020. They can be based on already existing national policies and strategies, such as Low-Emission Development Strategies (LEDS).

NAMAs are characterized by a ‘development first’ approach. This means that emission reductions are generally considered as a co-benefit to other national objectives, such as increased energy access and reductions in traffic growth. They differ from the traditional offsetting and focus on developing countries’ own contribution to global mitigation and sustainable development. Unlike with the CDM, NAMAs provide a way for developing countries to employ mitigation actions and account for their own emission reductions, which is not the case in carbon trading.

Generally the types of NAMAs can be distinguished along the following two lines: domestic – supported NAMAs, and policy – project NAMAs.

Domestic vs Supported NAMAs

The UNFCCC distinguishes between domestic (unilateral) NAMAs and supported (multilateral) NAMAs and the categorisation is according to the support or financing used to develop them.

Domestic NAMAs: Domestic NAMAs rely solely on national support to implement mitigation actions. Generally, they receive financial support from pre-existing financial flows within the country.

Supported NAMAs: Supported NAMAs source international support in the form of financial backing, technology transfer and/or capacity building. They use domestic sources of finance to attract international financial support. Consequently, domestic support is the foundation for both variations, however supported NAMAs rely on international support.

In some cases NAMAs are initiated domestically and further down the line start receiving international support. Thus, there are often blurred lines between the two categories.

Policy vs Project NAMAs

NAMAs are meant to be implemented in a ‘nationally appropriate’ way. Thus, they allow for a range of mitigation activities and provide a good opportunity for sector-wide scale emission reductions. NAMAs can be implemented as policy, sectoral goals, or project based activities. However, given that NAMAs are intended to achieve ‘transformational change’ and achieve long term, permanent outcomes, according to Ecofys they are mostly utilised as policies (56%) rather than project activities (26%).


Policy NAMAs: Policy NAMAs aim to achieve transformational change through implementation of regulations, policies and strategies. They are utilized through standards or economic incentives (e.g. feed-in tariffs for renewable energy, policy packages which incentivise a market for a new technology, emissions trading schemes, building codes standards for energy efficiency, etc.)

Project NAMAs: NAMAs can also be project based where specific investments are directed at mitigation actions undertaken to pursue: cleaner energy; energy efficiency; more robust infrastructure and technology development (e.g. concentrated solar power (CSL) wind and thermal power plants transport infrastructure and promotion of low emission technologies in agriculture, etc).

Credited NAMAs: As NAMA actions generate quantifiable emission reductions, the debate has also emerged on how NAMAs could potentially function as a market-based mechanism. The so called ‘credited NAMAs’ would generate credits to be traded in the global carbon market. This option is still under debate among the Parties, and the mechanisms for NAMA crediting remain undefined under the UNFCCC.

Useful links:

NAMA Registry is a UNFCCC registry which records NAMAs seeking support for preparation and implementation, and for recognition in order to match finance, technology, and capacity-building support for submitted actions.

NAMA Database is operated by Ecofys and collects information from publicly available sources on NAMA related activities, although not necessarily all/only activities submitted to the NAMA registry.


For more information read our Beginner’s Guide to NAMAs

All recent content on NAMAs here