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FEATURE: Postcard from Cape Town – mobilising and delivering climate finance in Africa


‘The bottom line is that there’s an urgent need to improve access to climate change finance at the scale required for transformational impact across Africa and put in place mechanisms that can best respond to Africa’s needs. Africans are leading with their own plans for climate change and they’ve called for additional financing that responds directly to their priorities.’

This message was delivered by Bobby Pitman, Vice President of Infrastructure, Regional Integration and the Private Sector at the African Development Bank, at the annual Climate Investment Funds (CIF) Partnership Forum. On 24 and 25 June, over 250 stakeholders gathered in Cape Town, South Africa, to share lessons and experiences about developing and executing plans under the CIFs in their countries.

The CIFs’ four programmes include clean technology investment, forestry investment, renewable energy and climate resilience. With the meeting on African soil, supporting ‘triple wins’ on the continent was high on the agenda: catalysing development, reducing carbon emissions, and building climate change resilience.

15 African countries are participating in the CIFs, and while ‘Africa receives more funding through the CIFs than any other region, it is still not enough’, according to Andrew Steer, World Bank Special Envoy for Climate Change. Many African countries have not been selected as pilot countries. At the Forum, the AfDB called on designers of new financial instruments to bring all African countries into the fold. The designers of the Green Climate Fund are also keeping a close watch on the CIFs. Some important lessons are emerging for the effective use of long-term climate finance.

Stakeholder engagement and establishing partnerships in the design and implementation of investment plans is proving a critical issue. While the CIFs’ requirements for multi-stakeholder engagements are providing new opportunities for developing in-country partnerships, others argue that tight deadlines for completing plans have been hindrances to wider engagement.

Guy Patrice Dkamela, Forests and Climate Change Facilitator for the Network for the Environment and Sustainable Development in Central Africa (NESDA-CA), emphasises that ‘critical consensus’ has  to be developed around investment plans, based on a sound analysis of the full range of stakeholders affected by projects and the role they need to play – as the ultimate ‘recipients of investment plans’. He calls for communication platforms to facilitate interaction and input by civil society groupings and indigenous peoples: ‘Yes, it is time-consuming, but we need a happy medium between rushing headlong to meet deadlines of the CIFs and having enough time to develop consensus with players on the ground, which to a large degree legitimises activities under investment plans’.

Some countries gave good reports of new partnerships developing around the CIFs’ programmes. In Niger, the preparation of a National Adaptation Programme of Action has facilitated communication and learning on climate change among different ministries: ‘We had to put people around a table from different ministries. Many of them hadn’t heard of climate change before, like the Education and Health Ministries. Many had to go on a steep learning curve. We quickly realised it’s a cross-sectoral issue’.

As implementation plans take shape, lessons from the CIFs will become increasingly useful in the design of the Green Climate Fund, and in making it operational. It’s critical the right knowledge, capacity, institutions, engagement mechanisms and regulatory frameworks are in place for developing countries to make best use of funds. Japan’s Deputy Vice Minister of Finance for International Affairs, Naoko Ishii, argued the need for a ‘readiness fund’ to do this job. It’s become clearer under the CIFs that these key enablers are the basis for equitable and sustainable climate change action.

At the end of last year, CDKN prepared a special briefing with Vivid Economics aimed at assisting African decision-makers to interpret and respond to the United Nations’ High-Level Advisory Group on Climate Change Finance (AGF)’s recommendations on mobilising climate finance. The briefing presents many opportunities for climate-compatible development in Africa and highlights the preconditions for turning the AGF’s recommendations into tangible flows of new finance.

The AGF was set up in February 2010 to identify how industrialised countries could mobilise US$100 billion of resources per annum by 2020, to support climate-resilient development in developing countries. The AGF reported in November 2010 that reaching the goal of US$100 billion was challenging but feasible.

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