Mistra Geopolitics author: Kevin Adams
Enhancing collaboration, seizing opportunities
The 20th board meeting of the Green Climate Fund was arguably the biggest calamity in climate policy since the collapse of the 2009 climate conference in Copenhagen.
Kevin M. Adams and Diana Dorman ask what, beyond the politics, can ensure a successful climate regime over the long term.
On the heels of the GCF meeting, the Standing Committee on Finance of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) held its Sixth Annual Forum. As an advisory committee to the UNFCCC Conference of Parties, the raison d’être of the committee is to “[improve] coherence and coordination in the delivery of climate change financing”. Specifically, this year’s forum sought to understand how the climate finance architecture could improve cooperation between climate funds.
This is no small question and opinions differ among experts on how best to achieve this goal. Still, at least three key points of agreement emerged during the two-day workshop, all of which are crucial as the climate finance landscape evolves.
- There is room to develop clearer roles and responsibilities for each climate fund
Fundamental to complementarity and coherence in climate financing is the recognition that climate funds are separate entities with diverse mandates. Today, there are over 60 institutions that raise, manage, and/or disburse climate finance, each of which plays a distinct role in this complex landscape.
On the one hand, this diversity promotes broader coverage of finance needs: there are more partners available with whom recipient countries can work, including some that may have expertise specialised for their needs. (While this is broadly positive, it could pose problems for governments with low capacity that may not have the resources to liaise with multiple funds.)
On the other hand, this crowded field raises the risk of duplicating efforts: with so many actors operating it can be difficult to understand who is working on what and to assure finance provision is indeed comprehensive and reaching the most vulnerable. There is growing agreement that space exists to develop clearer roles, mandates, and niches for the various climate funds to facilitate coherence and complementarity.
2. Complementarity must involve different approaches for different contexts
In line with the recognition that different funds may have different roles, there is also a need to ensure that different approaches are available for diverse contexts around the globe. There has been significant interest over the past several years in catalyzing private sector investment for climate purposes. While the private sector is undoubtedly important, courting it should not come at the expense of country ownership, for example. A diversity of approaches is needed, either between funds, or within the same fund, so that financing packages can be created that suit the needs of the recipient country and sector. In addition to galvanising private sector funds, attention should also be paid to enhancing direct access and long-term capacity building.
3. The UNFCCC has a role to play in coordination
In the face of substantial challenges around coordination and coherence, it is evident that there is a need for a coordinator. The UNFCCC, particularly its Standing Committee on Finance, is well-placed to provide strategic advice to help the climate finance regime function more effectively and make best use of the diversity of available expertise. While the committee does not have the mandate to directly instruct many of the relevant funds, its technical capacity and political clout make it an excellent candidate to commission needed work, convene conversations between stakeholders, and encourage actors to think critically about how to best use their positions in this complex institutional landscape to effect positive change. In particular, the SCF could facilitate efforts to make data more easily available and accessible and streamline accreditation processes across funds.