CD links: Linking Climate and Development Policies – Leveraging International Networks and Knowledge Sharing

Series of related articles:
– IPCC: Special Report on Emissions Scenarios
– A new scenario framework for climate change research: the concept of shared socioeconomic pathways
– Linking Climate and Development Policies – Leveraging International Networks and Knowledge Sharing

CD links

The Project

CD-LINKS is a research project that brings together a consortium of nineteen leading international research organizations from around the globe to explore national and global transformation strategies for climate change and their linkages to a range of sustainable development objectives.

An important question for policy makers, in the G20 and beyond, is how to bring climate action into the broader sustainable development agenda. Objectives like energy poverty eradication, increased well-being and welfare, air quality improvement, energy security enhancement, and food and water availability will continue to remain important over the next several decades. There have been relatively few scientific analyses, however, that have explored the complex interplay between climate action and development while simultaneously taking both global and national perspectives.

The CD-LINKS project will change this, filling the critical knowledge gap and providing much-needed information for designing complementary climate-development policies. The project aims to have a pronounced impact on the policy dialogue, both nationally and internationally: an important outcome of the project will be a list of country-specific policy recommendations for effectively managing the long-term transformation process. These recommendations will point out opportunities for policy synergies and at the same time respect political and institutional barriers to implementation.

The challenge

An important question for policy makers, in the G20 and beyond, is how to bring climate action into the broader sustainable development agenda. It is increasingly recognised that climate change is intricately linked to sustainable development, not just in terms of joint underlying drivers, but also with respect to synergistic policy choices. On the one hand, climate change mitigation policy, if well designed, can lead to significant co-benefits for development. On the other hand, climate impacts and risks have been strongly identified as ‘threat multipliers’.

To effectively inform decision making on these issues, whether at the national or international level, science must take an integrated and holistic perspective. A central question at the national level, for instance, is how climate and development policies may interact – do they reinforce or hinder each other when trying to achieve a range of societal priorities, like, for example, energy poverty eradication, air quality improvement, energy security enhancement, climate resilience and food and water access? A comprehensive analysis of future development pathways needs to align both global and national perspectives, with the aim of addressing multiple policy priorities simultaneously.

The CD-LINKS challenge is to advance the state-of-the-art of integrated, model-based analysis of the development-energy-climate nexus. This means (i) working toward the next generation of technological and socio-economic pathways that take into account climate-resilient adaptation strategies, and (ii) establishing a research network and capacity building platform in order to leverage knowledge-exchange among institutions from Europe and other key players within the G20.


CD-LINKS has four overarching goals:

(i) to gain an improved understanding of the linkages between climate change policies (mitigation/adaptation) and multiple sustainable development objectives,

(ii) to broaden the evidence base in the area of policy effectiveness by exploring past and current policy experiences,

(iii) to develop the next generation of globally consistent, national low-carbon development pathways, and

(iv) to establish a research network and capacity building platform in order to leverage knowledge-exchange among institutions from Europe and other key players within the G20.


Research approach

CD-LINKS will combine multiple streams of research – empirical analysis, model enhancement and scenario development – to achieve its multiple objectives.

    • At the heart of the project, national and global transformation pathways will be developed that address climate change within the broader sustainable development agendas of G20 countries. Collaboration between national and global modelling teams will yield more coherent pictures of the future than is typical of pathways studies.


    • The project will explore low-carbon development pathways and adaptation strategies that ensure the achievement of a wide range of sustainable development objectives, including in particular, alleviating energy poverty and income inequality, reducing air pollution and associated health impacts, ensuring water availability, food and energy security, and managing the risks of climate-related extreme events.


    • In support of evidence-based decision making, the analysis of low-carbon development pathways will be complemented by empirical analyses of past and existing policies that have had a climate or broader development focus. A review of national action plans, planned policies and international country pledges will round out the picture by assessing expected trends over the short-to-medium term.


  • CD-LINKS will go further than previously developed transformation pathways, which have been largely silent about policy implementation, by translating insights from the scenario work into concrete and tangible recommendations for policy implementation at the national and international level.

Project structure

Activities undertaken within the project will be split into six highly interlinked work packages (WPs): five concentrating on research, and a sixth on capacity building, dissemination and stakeholder engagement. This subdivision of efforts will focus the expertise of participating research teams on particular tasks, thereby ensuring the project’s main objectives are completed with maximal efficiency. At the same time, the extensive collaborations involved will allow for the free flow of information and knowledge-sharing between teams, notably amongst national and global modellers/analysts and across EU and Non-EU G20 countries. Another recurring theme throughout the project is the attention given to both climate and development in all WPs.

More specifically, with their empirical analyses and assessments of past, existing and planned policies, WPs 1 and 2 will set the stage for the low-carbon development pathways modelling to be conducted in WPs 3 and 4. The synthesised insights from these four WPs will then yield concrete ideas for future policy action (WP5), one of the main aims of the project. This approach to informing policy through scientific analysis will also be accompanied by a host of capacity building, dissemination and communication activities (WP6), including close linkages with ongoing policy initiatives at the national and international levels. These WPs will be executed for the most part in parallel, given the numerous linkages and feedbacks within and between. The core activities of the CD-LINKS work packages are listed below. Detailed descriptions are provided in subsequent sections.

CD-LINKS work packages


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