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Global Climate Finance - Will Africa Benefit After Paris?

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UNDP is supporting a number of countries to develop GCF concept notes and funding proposals and to access GCF Readiness Funds for removal of barriers to direct access.

For the first time in the 25-year history of climate diplomacy, countries concluded a universal treaty under international law – the December 2015 Paris Agreement - rekindling lost hope on a collective and genuine effort to tackle climate change.

African countries, along with the rest of the world, submitted national climate pledges also known as intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs), aimed at stabilizing greenhouse gas (GHG) concentration in the atmosphere to a level that does not pose a danger to life on earth.

While Africa is the lowest contributor of global emissions, it is the most vulnerable continent to climate change with majority of its population relying on the land for subsistence and economic activity.

According to the 2015 UN Environment Programme’s Adaptation Gap Report, Africa could require between US$20 -30 billion dollars annually over the next 10-20 years to meet its climate change adaptation needs.

As such there is a need for developed countries to ramp up financial contributions, and on the other hand, for support to African countries to access global climate finance.

The Paris Agreement provides the basis for this support. Article 9 paragraph 1 states “Developed country Parties shall provide financial resources to assist developing country Parties with respect to both mitigation and adaptation in continuation of their existing obligations under the Convention.”

The global climate finance architecture, consisting of multilateral, bilateral, private and public sources of funds is complex, keeps evolving and presents a daunting task for African countries to navigate. 

Given the renewed commitment and political momentum generated by the Paris Agreement, will climate finance flow to Africa, notwithstanding past failures?

 With some notable exceptions, African countries have, to date, not registered any success in leveraging climate finance to achieve transformational low-carbon, climate-resilient impacts.

Among the challenges is that while climate change adaptation is a priority for the continent, global climate financial flows have been mainly directed towards mitigation.

In addition to strong institutions and systems, different capacities are needed to access or mobilise climate funds, such as the ability to draft innovative, transformative and bankable proposals along with specialised technical skills, the ability to deliver the funds (absorptive capacity) and the ability to account for the use of funds through effective monitoring reporting, and verification. Negotiation capacity is particularly important for win-win public-private partnerships.

The Green Climate Fund (GCF), set up in 2010 to mobilize USD100 billion by 2020 to channel to developing countries, is poised to become the principal vehicle for securing and distributing balanced adaptation and mitigation climate finance, opening up new opportunities for Africa.

UNDP is an accredited entity of the GCF and is well-positioned to assist African countries to access funds. At the 2015 first round of the GCF allocation meeting, UNDP was successful in mobilising US$ 12.3 million for Malawi focused on scaling up climate information and early warning systems, and US$ 23.6 million for the Maldives to support communities to manage water shortages.

It is also encouraging that of the eight projects approved for GCF funding in that round, three were from Africa, along with another three from Asia-Pacific and two from Latin America.

UNDP is supporting a number of countries to develop GCF concept notes and funding proposals and to access GCF Readiness Funds for removal of barriers to direct access.

A number of African regional economic communities and public and private institutions are pursuing GCF accreditation, with a few already accredited, and governments are establishing national climate funds with domestic resources. 

There is a glimmer of hope that global climate financial flows to Africa could increase after Paris. This is necessary as climate finance has the potential to deliver multiple benefits such as food, water and energy security, health and employment benefits – precisely what Africa needs.

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