COP23: Call for donors to set targets for amount of funding that reaches the local level

COP23: Call for donors to set targets for amount of funding that reaches the local level

By Will Bugler

Donors and international finance partners should set voluntary targets, and track the amount of climate finance that reaches the local level. This was the suggestion made by Michelle Winthrop, climate change policy lead at the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, at the Development and Climate (D&C) Days at COP23 last weekend. The call for action came after research from the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) estimates that only around 11% of funds allocated to climate adaptation, make it to projects at the local level.

IIED’s assessment puts forward several reasons why climate funds are not reaching ground-level initiatives. These include the investment strategies of climate funds which prioritise large-scale results from large-scale projects; the higher transaction costs involved with small-scale projects which can put investors off; risk averse funding strategies; too little support for building local capacity to manage funds; co-financing requirements that hinder local ownership; and poor enforcement of policies for community engagement.

The proposal on targets for local climate adaptation finance was just one of a host of recommendations emanating from the lively discussions that took place at the D&C days, event that takes place each year on the middle weekend of the COP climate talks. This year those who ventured across the Rhine from the UN negotiating centre, were treated to interactive sessions on climate finance, private sector engagement, the value of local knowledge, and how to create downward accountability of climate adaptation.

Supply chain climate resilience

Picking one’s way through the packed D&C Days programme is not easy, with parallel sessions running throughout the day. Selected highlights included a facilitated discussion on resilience to company supply chains, with contributions from Farm Africa’s, Director of Research and Development, Yvan Biot; Diane Holdorf, Chief Sustainability Officer at Kellogg and Company; and Makhegu Mabunda, Sustainability specialist at Woolworths, South Africa.

It was encouraging to hear from both Kellogg’s and Woolworths that they were actively taking steps to assess the climate risks to their supply chains, working with smallholder farmers to improve the reliability of their supplies. It was clear that they recognised climate risk as an issue of business continuity. Ms Mabunda also was frank in admitting that the many in the private sector are prepared to show willing to increase supply chain resilience but that they “don’t have all the answers, and need to work with development and climate specialists in order to get the best outcomes”.

Tracking public expenditure on climate change adaptation

Another session that caught the imagination of a large number of delegates, was a discussion co-hosted by Action on Climate Today (ACT), Oxford Policy Management (OPM) and IIED, which presented three frameworks for assessing, tracking and calculating the benefit of climate spending at the local level in countries in South East Asia.

One such method was the Financing Framework for Resilient Growth (FFGR) which outlines a method for assessing the amount of money being attributed to climate change in government budgets. It assesses the ‘climate relevance’ of the spending, and helps to track the money from the national to local level. In doing so the FFGR might help governments better identify gaps in adaptation funding in important sectors of the economy, and improve the efficacy of resilience planning.

Heard across the river

The recommendations from the D&C days were captured in typical style by sketch artist extraordinaire, Jorge Martin. The collective wisdom of all those that participated, as captured by Jorge, made it across the river and into the negotiations, providing the background to discussions on climate finance.


The key messages from the D&C Days 2017 have been helpfully distilled here.

Cover photo by Simon Anderson.

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