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Certified Expert in NDC Strategy and Finance

The transition to a low-carbon world and managing climate impacts and risks are some of our most significant global challenges today. The 2023 Global Stocktake, launched at COP 28 in Dubai, warned the world is dangerously off track regarding the targets of the Paris Agreement.

By 2025, countries are due to submit new national climate commitments under the Paris Agreement – the nationally determined contributions, short NDCs. These commitments are the basis for international climate action. NDCs to date fall well short of what’s needed to avert increasingly dangerous climate impacts and hold global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees.

Moreover, recent scientific findings, including the 2023 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, indicate that the effects of climate change are resulting in more severe consequences sooner than expected. This shows the urgent need to step up international climate action: reduce emissions, enhance adaptation efforts, and substantially increase financing for both.

In this context, there has never been a greater need for countries and the international climate finance community in general to focus on the implementation of NDCs and other national strategies. The course Certified Expert in NDC Strategy and Finance (CENSF) will give you the opportunity to learn about the role of NDCs in the broader context of climate action, the different facets of NDC contributions, and the resulting financing that enable ambitious climate action in the long-term.

What Do We Offer?

  • An interactive e-learning course including video lectures, PDF scripts, examples, practical exercises, online tests, and case studies.
  • A discussion forum for course-related issues and for exchanging opinions and experiences with tutors, peers, or the FSDF e-Campus team.
  • Personalized support from your e-Campus team.
  • The possibility of achieving a Frankfurt School certificate after passing the final exam or a confirmation of course completion after completing the course.

Tuition Fees*

Regular Tuition Fee: EUR 1,050

Early Bird Fee: EUR 850  (by July 15)

  • 10% group discount (for 2 or more participants working for the same institution)
  • 10% for FS Alumni
  • For package discounts, please contact us
Payment Options
  • Bank Transfer (bank fees to be covered by participants)
  • Credit Card
  • PayPal

Payment in instalments is not possible.

*Subject to change

Target Audience

Experts and professionals from the climate and development finance community (incl. Development Banks, Funds, IGOs, NGOs, Int. cooperation), policymakers, consultants, and all other interested individuals.


The course takes approx. 6 months, assuming 3-4 hours of self-study per week. It consists of 6 mandatory units, which build upon each other.

You are not sure if you manage to complete the course within 6 months? No worries! You can apply for a course extension (6 more months) against an administrative fee.


Registration for the September intake is now open. Register by July 15 to take advantage of our early bird discount.

Course Details*

This course aims to comprehensively understand Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) within the broader context of international climate change negotiations and the Paris Agreement. By exploring the fundamentals of climate science, response strategies, and sustainable finance, participants will gain insights into the origins, contents, and evolution of NDCs, and the challenges and opportunities associated with their implementation at the country level. A special focus will lie on the role of financing, translating strategies into tangible and sustainable investments that enable ambitious climate action in the long term. Through a combination of theoretical knowledge and practical case studies, participants will be equipped to critically assess NDCs, identify gaps in ambition, and evaluate strategies for enhancing climate action towards achieving the goals outlined in the Paris Agreement.

*subject to change

CENSF Curriculum

Unit 1

Introduction: NDCs in the context of Climate Change and International Agreements

The first step to tackling the topic of NDCs is understanding the broader context of climate change and its impacts. Unit I will provide an overview of the basic concepts of climate science, response strategies (mitigation and adaptation), and the challenges of addressing climate change. We will examine international climate change negotiations, focusing on the path towards the Paris Agreement (PA) and understanding NDCs within the broader context of the PA and international negotiations.

Once we grasp the importance of responding to climate change holistically and sustainably, we will explore sustainable finance—a key prerequisite for enabling a systemic, sustainable, and just transformation as envisaged by Article 2 of the Paris Agreement. We will examine the implications of the PA for the financial sector, delving into Article 2.1c and establishing the importance of tracking finance flows.

Unit 2

NDCs as part of the transition: The role and evolution of NDCs achieving the Paris Agreement goals

Unit 2 aims to establish the role of NDCs in the global transformation towards environmentally sustainable economies and societies by examining their origins, various facets, involved stakeholders, and general contents—and their development post-PA. This will include an overview of the latest developments at COP28 and in the fields of Loss & Damage and the UNFCCC work programme on transition pathways.

A special focus of this unit will lie on the NDC cycle, understanding the role of the Global Stocktake as part of the ratcheting mechanism of the PA, thereby highlighting the transformative character and potential of the NDCs. By the end of this unit, we will understand the critical role of NDCs in the broader context of a just transition.

Unit 3

Analysis of NDCs: Strategies, Targets, and Implementation

Unit 3 will deep dive into the setup and contents of NDCs. We will explore different concepts and sectors that NDC mitigation and adaptation strategies focus on and compare the various NDC targets of several countries regarding their ambition levels.

We will also examine the means of implementation countries have focused on, as well as the challenges they face, such as externalities and country-specific priorities in their respective development contexts. We will discover how NDCs have evolved over the last cycles, identify the gaps that still exist in terms of ambition—aiming for the 1.5-degree target—and evaluate what they have delivered so far.

Unit 4

Country-Level NDC Implementation: Policies, Strategies, and Challenges

The unit will take on the perspective of the country level, looking at different ways of implementing an NDC strategy and identifying challenges in NDC implementation. We will learn about policies such as National Adaptation Plans, Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs), Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+), and Long-Term Strategies (LTS). We will also examine the roles of different actors (public and private) and instruments, such as economic and financial policies, regulations, taxonomies, and standards.

Considering country-specific circumstances, we will look at various examples of NDCs that differ in methodology, composition, and metrics. A special focus will be on the challenges, including assessing progress by identifying gaps and barriers to investment, to lay the foundation of the next unit: Financing NDC Implementation.

Unit 5

Roadmap for Mobilizing and Managing NDC Finance

Mobilizing and managing finance for NDCs is a multifaceted challenge that differs in mitigation and adaptation. Unit 5 aims to set out a roadmap to enable NDC financing. It will map out how governments and focal points should structure the institutional landscape so that instruments can work in the country context and investments are incentivized to implement NDCs. It will involve several steps - from identifying gaps, costs, and needs to assessing public and private; national and international financing options that offer instruments responding to barriers. A key role will be attributed to the involvement of several levels and actors, from the political level to executing entities.

Determining financing options and strategies is crucial for translating NDCs into action. But keeping up the good work after the financing strategy has been successfully set up, implemented, and communicated is key for a sustainable NDC strategy:   Monitoring, Reporting, and Verification (MRV) are crucial parts of a country’s overall NDC strategy to ensure that financial flows and resources are distributed appropriately to meet climate objectives. Designing and implementing a Climate Finance MRV System will help assess data gaps and needs, establish a data management process, and build MRV capacity to ensure that set targets will be met and can continuously be updated.

Unit 6

Recap & Outlook

The course concludes with a recap of the learning materials from Unit 1 to Unit 5, while also providing an outlook on ongoing and upcoming developments in the NDCs sphere.

Training Approach

The flexibility of our courses offers you the opportunity to follow your own schedule and to combine daily work with professional development.

The high quality offered will immediately improve your daily job performance as well as the performance of your institution.

Training Material

Video Lectures
  • Intro videos: After viewing the lectures, participants will have a basic understanding of each topic and will be able to classify the importance and relevance of different techniques and aspects in a broader context.
  • Web-based Presentations: Web-based presentations complement the scripts and give additional input on important topics.
Online Tests

Each unit ends with an online test comprising a set of 10 - 15 multiple-choice questions. Only after having successfully completed an online test you will gain access to the next unit.

Reading Material

For most of our courses, a PDF script is the main studying material. This reading material provides basic concepts and principles applicable to the subject of each unit.


The key to successful learning is the immediate use of newly acquired knowledge and the transfer of theory into practice. Our online courses are, therefore, supplemented by a mandatory assignment.

Discussion Forum

A course discussion forum enables the interaction between participants and trainers and facilitates the exchange of experiences and the possibility to ask questions or get clarifications.

Suggestions & Recommendations

We would like to give you some recommendations on how to get the most out of this course:

Your schedule: We will provide a course schedule with voluntary and mandatory deadlines. The course schedule serves as a guideline for your personal learning schedule and will help you to complete the programme within the given time frame.

Assignments: With the assignment, you will learn how to apply the knowledge learned during the course. It is important that you take time to read the necessary materials and solve the assignment.

Networking Opportunities: Use the forum to introduce yourself to your peers and start interesting discussions.

Final Exam

Passing a final examination is a requirement for obtaining your certificate.

  • Location: The final exam takes place online
  • Duration: The final exam takes 2 hours.
  • Costs: 
  • An additional final exam fee will be charged for the second and third final exam attempt.

If you do not wish to take the final exam, you will receive a confirmation of course participation after completing the course.

Course Lecturer: Dr. Christine Grüning

Christine Gruening

Dr. Christine Grüning delivers a strong interdisciplinary background in environmental economics, finance and policy. Since 2011 she is managing and implementing applied research, education and capacity building projects for the Frankfurt School-UNEP Collaborating Centre for Climate & Sustainable Energy Finance.


In her role as director of FS' UNEP Collaborating Centre for Climate & Sustainable Energy Finance she combines applied research on policy-relevant topics in climate finance and policy with an orientation towards practical application and final implementation. Her current fields of research are the economics of climate change, barriers on investment in mitigation and adaptation finance, market imperfections, and results-based climate finance. She has been crucial for the success of the annual report “Global Trends in Renewable Energy Finance” in cooperation with Bloomberg New Energy Finance and UN Environment over the last 12 years and the development and implementation of the Certified Expert of Climate Adaptation Finance, Certified Expert of Climate & Renewable Energy Finance and the Adaptation Finance Fellowship Programme (AFFP). Between 1999 and 2004 she studied International Business Administration at the European University Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder). She holds a Bachelor Degree in Financial Studies from Manchester Metropolitan University (UK) and a Maestria de Dirección de Empresas (MBA) from the Universidad Católica de Códoba (Argentina). Subsequently she joined the Chair of Public Finance and Environmental Economics at the European University Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder) and received a doctoral degree in 2010.

Further course trainers and experts

Saskia Peters, Project Coordinator, FS-UNEP Centre

Michael Koenig, Senior Programme Manager, FS-UNEP Centre

Khayala Sadikhova, Programme Manager, FS-Sustainable World Academy

The FS-UNEP Centre

The content of this course was developed by the Frankfurt School - UNEP Collaborating Centre for Climate & Sustainable Energy Finance (http://fs-unep-centre.org/). The Centre is a strategic cooperation between Frankfurt School and the UN Environment programme. Its vision is to advance transformation to resilient low-carbon and resource-efficient economies by attracting new types of investors, in particular catalysing the financing of clean energy by the private sector. The Centre is UNEP’s major knowledge hub for climate finance related aspects.

Course contributes to UN SDGs

All our courses contribute to the following SDGs


This course will enhance your knowledge in the following SDGs. The SWA offers professional and executive courses dedicated to the advancement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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Beyond your Certificate

Master of Leadership in Sustainable Finance

The Certified Expert in Sustainable Finance is an Elective Module of the  Master of Leadership in Sustainable Finance. Join our Master programme after completing the CESFi course and waive one elective module. Also, the amount you paid for the course will be deducted from the final tuition fee of the Master programme.

Frankfurt School Summer Academy

Expand your skills and knowledge in risk management with the Frankfurt School Summer Academy. This one-week, on-campus programme allows participants to choose from a selection of specialised technical tracks. 

Read more about our Sustainable Finance Track here

Diploma in Green Finance

The Certified Expert in NDC Strategy and Finance is part of the curriculum of our Diploma in Green Finance. Enroll to our Diploma  after completing this course and waive one module. Also, the amount you paid for the course will be deducted from the final tuition fee of the Diploma.

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