Coherence in Practice

Sri Lanka

Case study jointly developed by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) and the Support Project for the Implementation of the Paris Agreement (GIZ project, funded by the BMU).


This overview brief was developed jointly by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) and the Support Project for the Implementation of the Paris Agreement (a GIZ project, funded by the BMU), and was summarized here to offer another example of current efforts for more coherence, with a focus on aligning sustainable development, climate change adaptation and DRM.

Sri Lanka is facing three major impacts of climate change: rising temperatures, rainfall distribution changes and not only increased but also more frequent and severe extreme weather events. While the island country is highly vulnerable to these impacts, its readiness to respond is also high. Sri Lankan policy processes already establish links between sustainable development, climate change adaptation and DRM. In addition, the responsibility for sustainable development and climate change is within the same single ministry, increasing the likelihood for coordinated and collaborative efforts. Finally, “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” (Dazé, 2019, p.10).


Planning processes are a strong indicator to assess a country’s efforts on coherence and the degree of it. To that effect, Sri Lanka’s NDC (2016) recognize that “integrated planning is the key means of implementation. Sri Lanka has already taken initiatives of integrated planning through the NAP […] which should be extended to other sectors vertically and horizontally.”

Furthermore, the author of the case study found that “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” (Dazé, 2019, p.1). Aligning the updates will help to ensure the two processes are mutually supportive and that the NAP acts as the roadmap for the NDC adaptation commitments.

The provincial adaptation planning processes present another opportunity for enhanced coherence. Provincial governments can make use of this process of integrating adaptation into planning, by articulating the role they can play in the implementation process of the NAP. Also, they can formulate their “contribution to the adaptation commitments in the NDC and the achievement of adaptation-related elements in the SDGs” (Dazé, 2019, p.10). Planned Regional Climate Cells in Sri Lanka will play a key role as their mandate could include to take an integrated approach to various commitments related to disaster risk management, climate change adaptation and sustainable development.

Finally, an expert committee drew up a strategic plan for sustainable development as an input to the National Policy and Strategy on Sustainable Development. In this report, climate change and disasters are recognized as a cross-cutting issues. Therefore, one can conclude that Sri Lanka is well on it’s way towards more coherence in their planning processes.


Sri Lanka is currently in the process of shifting from informal to strategic alignment: Actors involved in the development and update of policies surrounding sustainable development, climate change adaptation and DRM are already—and increasingly—exchanging information. As various documents already acknowledge the linkages between different policy processes, there are opportunities to advance alignment strategically by updating key mechanisms according to these synergies, which will ultimately further the potential of coherent implementation.

Figure 1 (from Dazé, 2019) shows the institutional arrangements relating to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, the Paris Agreement and the Sendai Framework. According to the author, the progress of alignment in all relevant policy processes is rather straightforward since most measures are directed by the same ministry. As the figure shows, however, DRM is addressed by its own Ministry for Disaster Management. Nonetheless, coherent implementation is not forgotten, since its National Policy “treats disaster management as a cross-cutting priority” (Dazé, 2019, p. 6) and is committed to addressing the impacts of climate change on disaster risks.


In their reporting on the status of the SDGs implementation, Sri Lanka draws on synergies between the goals , the Paris Agreement and the Sendai Framework. In its Voluntary National Review (VNR) climate change adaptation is associated with achieving the SDGs such as ending hunger, urban development and good health.

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The summary was derived from the overview brief titled “Alignment to Advance Climate-Resilient Development – Country Case Study: Sri Lanka” (Dazé, 2019). Please find the original brief here.

This overview brief is a product of the Support Project for the Implementation of the Paris Agreement (SPA), which is funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) under its International Climate Initiative (IKI) and is produced jointly by IISD and GIZ.

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