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OPINION: Finance for local level adaptation

Sam Bickersteth, CDKN’s Chief Executive, spoke at the opening plenary of the Eighth International Conference on Community-Based Adaptation (CBA8) in Kathmandu, Nepal, yesterday. The theme of the conference is ‘Financing Local Adaptation’. Following is the text of his remarks.

Right Honourable Prime Minister, ladies and gentlemen, I am sure all here agree that the sooner the world cuts its greenhouse gas emissions collectively, the smaller the (rapidly increasing) resource requirements for adaptation will be. The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report – AR5 – has told us that greenhouse gas emissions are growing faster than ever and that the world’s ‘carbon budget’ (the amount of greenhouse gases we can afford to emit and keep the global average temperature rise below relatively ‘safe’ levels of 2oC) will be exhausted in just a few years. Emissions must drop extremely fast to stay within the remaining budget. If we keep emitting at present rates, the world is on track for average warming of 3.7 – 4.8oC by the end of the century.

Although the focus in developing countries is rightly on adaptation, there is an opportunity for all countries to contribute to this collective effort by creating an enabling environment for investments in low emission solutions in key sectors such as agriculture, energy, transport and construction. The recent IPCC WGIII (mitigation) report provides good news: it says there is growing evidence that taking action to reduce greenhouse emissions can provide both development and climate benefits. The report catalogues options for reducing emissions and simultaneously improving air quality, reducing traffic congestion, improving public health, and other co-benefits.

We know enough to act now, and to act effectively to reduce society’s climate-related risk. Of course, as shown by the huge amount of commitment and activity around the organisations represented here, adaptation is active across most countries. The power of CBA is that it harnesses local capacity and resources, builds on indigenous knowledge and recognises the potential of autonomous adaptation. Some of the experiences from CDKN’s local partners include:

• How the city of Cartagena, Colombia is creating ‘Adaptive Neighbourhoods’ with the explicit support of the municipality, community groups and businesses, in the face of increased flooding;
• How communities in Ethiopia, Uganda and Mozambique are successfully reprogramming their district development budgets into more climate-resilient activities that benefit local livelihoods;
• How climate-resilient housing in Da Nang, Vietnam is saving lives and property in the face of typhoons;
• How the Government of Nepal CDKN supported study (being launched on 28th April) on the economic impact assessment of climate change has assessed the cost of climate change across key sectors.

But despite these good examples, as last year’s conference concluded, scaling-out is the critical challenge and we need finance as a key enabler for this.
International climate finance is expected to deliver a huge range of things, and work at different scales. And it can be channelled to deliver transformational change both at the national level and local level. This is happening already at international level through the GEF and Adaptation Fund and at national level through such national climate change funds at FONERWA in Rwanda.

As the Climate Policy Initiative (CPI) annual climate finance landscape report tell us, despite increased donor commitments to adaptation during the Fast-Start-Financing period, mitigation financing dominates the scene (94% of US$ 360 billion in 2012).

All development resourcing starts at home. CPI data tells us that most climate finance originates in same country in which it is spent (75%). By demonstrating a national commitment and trend in increasing such resourcing, developing countries are in a stronger position to make a case for increased support for climate compatible development from development finance institutions and donors, including dedicated climate funds.

The international climate finance architecture needs to enable adequate resources for developing countries to pursue their transition to low carbon economies and to ensure inclusive economic growth in a climate-resilient manner. These resources should be considered catalytic and used in a way that shifts considerably larger investment flows from public and private sources that are necessary for the required transformation. For developing countries this means robust long-term planning and strong institutional capacity at multiple levels to effectively access and deliver climate funds.

Finally, it is important to recognise the leadership of our host, Nepal, to direct climate finance (80% target) to the local level and their role in leading the Least Developed Country Group of Negotiators so effectively. Nepal’s LAPA (Local Adaptation Plans of Action) programme is a world leader.

Find out more about CDKN’s programme, in partnership with the Government of Nepal, to increase the country’s climate resilience: Climate and Development Outlook – Nepal Special Edition.

Read CDKN’s newly-launched paper: How to scale out community based adaptation? which describes private sector leadership on scaling out local climate adaptation.

Image of agriculture, Nepal, courtesy CIAT.

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