Scaling up climate action & rural development to the required level over the next decisive decade
After a pandemic-caused break of almost a year and a half in a crucial phase of bringing the Paris Agreement into action, during which international and national climate talks and activities were essentially suspended or left to virtual meetings and dialogues, without the momentum that the usual (physical) gatherings can create despite announcing new targets, momentum is finally building once again as we head into summer.
Indeed, the US reentering the scene with much needed ambition is causing others to follow suit. In June the Subsidiary Bodies of the UNFCCC convene for the first time since the outbreak, albeit virtually, with talks extended to address the growing backlog of critical agenda items. COP 26, originally due to take place last November, is on schedule to be held in Glasgow this November.
In light of this renewed impetus, we consider our current climate action programme engagements in Africa; one at the national level in Uganda, and the major regional Great Green Wall (GGW) initiative, both of which enter their next phases now and significantly increase the amount of mobilized resources. The latter currently receiving and preparing to receive another huge amount of donor funding to be able to scale up and achieve its 2030 targets. Against the background of our work and the abovementioned developments, we look at where we are headed, what needs to happen and what we have learned.
Starting with the local level in Uganda, building the foundation over the last 4 years Climate Smart Agriculture and Villages (CSA/CSV) and related standards and best practices for climate action have been integrated into the operations of local partner organizations and communities. Yet such projects require half a decade lead time - moving up the pipelines of related sources of climate finance - before they see the light of the day and begin delivering at scale. And whilst these local projects form the foundation for the success of larger regional initiatives such as the GGW, launching the next phase, scaling up and out, requires more long-term, programmatic thinking, going beyond the short-lived donor funding cycles. The alignment of projects or programmes with achieving what was set out under the Paris Agreement, and is currently yet to pan out when it comes to crucial implementation and finance aspects such as with regard to Art. 6, speaking about mitigation aspects only, is another challenge.
Attracting and absorbing new innovative and private finance - integrating and using results-based payments for environmental services, carbon finance and working with green loan products and direct investments into supply or value chains, for example - requires fine-tuning and structuring projects in a way that meets the more rigid criteria of the new(est) generation of climate finance funding opportunities and investment vehicles. Technical, financial, local and international expertise and experience need to be combined, supporting best practice in project development and implementation, including related monitoring and reporting standards. This is our approach in Uganda where we just managed to tap into another bilateral climate facility next to climate-oriented development finance, here from Germany, doubling the amount of available funding compared to the first phase – expanding into Kenya at some point during this next phase as well. Looking at it from a "bottom-up" perspective a more enabling environment for private sector engagement, creation or reforms of the regulatory frameworks and providing incentive mechanisms for project developers to be able to develop turnkey projects that deliver against adaptation and mitigation targets in a shorter time are required. This is where “top-down” initiatives come in and can unfold their potential, unless they are hampered and/or less effective due to uncoordinated efforts, self-interests or sovereignty issues.
What else can be done from a (more) “top- down” perspective such as under a regional initiative like the GGW? In addition to more coordinated efforts among donors with regard to countries, regions, and technologies, "coalitions of the coordinated" are needed to contribute to the speeding and scaling up of developments, alongside a continuation of individual donor efforts. To build and maintain cross-border "learning" partnerships to increase the reach of vital climate-related information, “bottom-up” movements supported by specialist groups including bringing development and more business-oriented organizations together can enhance cross-border collaboration and eventually implementation on the ground. Disseminating the application of best practice in project development and implementation through technical and financial assistance, which requires the mapping, identification and selection of qualified local players and partners, accompanied by targeted (institutional) capacity development, will improve and increase the absorptive capacity of the local actors and partners to increase speed and quality of implementation. Umbrella initiatives and programmes like the GGW can add value and maximize synergy, scale and shared benefits.
Transparency and predictability of finance is imperative. Against the backdrop of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR) and discussions seeking to address injustice and redress imbalance, we need to mobilize and harness the power of global financial markets, companies and investors to get the money to where it matters - and moreover is needed - most. Indeed, as Director of Sustainability Technology and Outlooks Mechthild Wörsdörfer noted when opening the Technical Working Group on Finance and Investment held in May, “finance is the missing link between the world’s ambitions and its actions.” Let us hope that as we all reconnect it can be found.
Climatekos gGmbH is an independent social enterprise in the field of environment and development focusing on international climate protection.