This Topic Guide has drawn from a wide body of literature to gather insights for development professionals on the drivers, opportunities and constraints for national governments in effectively developing and implementing climate change policies that support sustainable development. Despite the relevance of PEAs in understanding how different actors, incentives and ideas may impact the feasibility of different policy solutions, these approaches are more common in the development field generally than in the literature on climate change governance. Few countries, particularly in the Global South, have implemented economy-wide climate change laws or policies, which means there are limited opportunities to assess successes and adapt from failures.

However, this is beginning to change, with new laws and strategies that seek to realign institutions and incentives around low-carbon development and resilience. These involve encouraging cooperation and coordination across government ‒ and in some cases with civil society (e.g. Mexico, Kenya, and Ethiopia).

The now-ratified Paris Agreement and the universal Sustainable Development Goals, along with accompanying finance and international assistance, may create the political space for reformers to build effective coalitions for climate action. An emphasis on policy coherence to ensure these two agendas can be implemented with minimal trade-offs and maximum synergies will require institutional coordination and information-sharing, and an understanding of key actors’ institutional and political relationships. While research on the impact of transparency and accountability initiatives has largely neglected the climate change field, civil society and the private sector have been shown to be effective as part of reform coalitions. Whether they can be major players in a wider range of countries will likely depend on the availability of relevant, timely and usable information, a safe and secure space for civil society to operate and the effectiveness of formal and informal accountability mechanisms.