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The Plumbing of Adaptation Finance: Accountability, Transparency, and Accessibility at the Local Level

World Resources Institute working paper examining phase one of the Adaptation Finance Accountability Initiative.

Between 2008 and 2012, the amount of international climate finance approved for developing countries increased considerably, while developing country governments also increased their own spending on climate change related activities. But how much finance is actually available within developing countries, how is it used, and is it reaching the local level? These are the questions that the Adaptation Finance Accountability Initiative (AFAI) seeks to answer, by analysing adaptation finance flows in Nepal, the Philippines, Uganda, and Zambia. This paper outlines the methodology and results of the AFAI project’s first phase, the aim of which is to map international-to-national flows and assess the national institutional context for adaptation finance. Key findings of phase one include that:

  • From 2010-2011 adaptation commitments increased in all the countries except the Philippines, which saw a decrease.
  • In each country, the government was the primary recipient of adaptation finance.
  • Sectoral distribution was variable, and difficult to link to national priorities.
  • Nepal and the Philippines prioritised local development, whereas Zambia and Uganda were less explicit.
  • In all four countries, organisation representing local government were included in national coordination, but venues for local stakeholders to participate were ill-defined.

The paper proposes five core principles around which to base discussion of accountability for the use of adaptation finance: transparency, ownership, responsiveness, participation, and equity. When applying these principles to the national institutional context and international finance flowing to the four countries studied, the authors find that:

  • Information about recipients and target geographies is largely missing, with more transparency required in terms of details of project activities.
  • There is opportunity for further strengthen ownership and enhance delivery of adaptation finance through national institutions and financial structures.
  • It was difficult, based on the findings of phase one, to assess the level of responsiveness of international finance flows to national and local priorities. This will be a focus of phase two of the AFAI.
  • While most strategies examined recognised the need to include local government in decision making, more information is needed that measures actual involvement of local communities.
  • Equity, especially gender considerations, seems to be driven by donor, and uptake into national strategies could be improved.