Last November, the United Nations 27th Climate Conference (COP27) adopted a landmark decision on establishing the Loss and Damage fund for the most vulnerable communities in developing countries. This decision is welcome news.
Many communities in developing countries remain vulnerable and some have experienced irreversible damage from climate disasters. It is therefore expected that the fund will be insurance for the increasing climate catastrophes.
For the past two years, governments have been updating their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to ratchet up ambitions through steeper emission cuts and more expansive adaptation measures.
About 51 African countries submitted NDCs costing $2.8 trillion for the period 2020 to 2030. Developing countries largely rely on the funding for the NDCs to come from the pledges made by the developed countries.
Of greater concern is how prepared the developing countries are in attracting these funds including the just adopted Loss and Damage financing. Recently, the Africa Research and Impact Network (ARIN) supported by the Makerere University and the Frankfurt School of Business deliberated extensively on the subject of climate finance at an annual international conference.
A key highlight of the conference was the need for developing countries to put in place strategies that would enable them to draw and manage international climate funding.
For a long time, Africa has not adequately galvanised climate finance for its mitigation or adaptation priorities. For example, the hardware financing, the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), has failed the test of equity, as African countries are ill-prepared to take advantage of the opportunity offered by the finance mechanism.
The mechanism has reinforced the advantages of countries such as China and Brazil, which have sound technologies and innovative systems. In 2014, for example, China had accumulated 80 per cent of the total amount allocated for CDM, India 11 per cent and Africa a paltry three per cent.
This raises concerns about whether Africa is innovative enough to tackle the prevailing climate scenario. Innovation was one of the highlights of the just-ended ARIN conference. In what has been largely termed as decolonisation, African countries must scale up innovation that is relevant to their local situations.
Further, the solutions sought must be applicable and relevant to the socio-economic milieu so that concerns about equity and equality are adequately addressed without aggravating the situations of the already vulnerable communities. This is the epitome of a just transition.
At the conference, concerns were raised about Africa’s lack of capacity and skills to access the climate fund. It was observed that in the few instances that African nations have managed to secure climate funds, the support hardly reaches the most vulnerable communities.
This is majorly due to the complex architecture of climate finance and its inherent structures. The technical and institutional capacity to design proposals that meet the standards of the fund available for adaptation is a concern that should be urgently addressed.
The continent requires an estimated $579.2 billion in adaptation finance over the 2020–2030 period but only an annual average of $11.4 billion was tracked in adaptation finance to Africa from 2019 to 2020.
That implies that even the $100 billion pledge by the developed nations is not sufficient to address the adaptation projects in the developing world. Up to now, the developed countries have not been able to meet the annual $100 billion pledge since its adoption 13 years ago in Copenhagen.
It, therefore, beats logic for developing nations to rely on the funds that have sometimes been advanced as public grants or loans bilaterally or through multilateral development banks.
The ARIN conference also highlighted the need to ‘decolonise’ research, policy and expertise in enhancing resilience. This includes the upscaling of nature-based solutions that have always been used by communities.
Developing countries must now review the outcome of COP27 objectively since it is not a silver bullet in climate change yet adaptation is an urgent concern.
Dr Joanes Atela is the Convener, Africa Research, and Impact Network (ARIN) Email: [email protected]