The main outcomes from the conference
Climate change is the biggest threat that the world faces in the 21st century. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its recent report states that urgent actions are needed to cut the risk of extreme events and warns that the world has only 12 years to limit climate change impacts. This message is not only daunting but is also inescapable. A key finding of the Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 Degree Celsius (SR15) is that meeting the 1.5 Degree Celsius target is only possible if deep emissions reductions and rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society are made, particularly by reducing energy dependence on fossil fuels. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Kyoto Protocol, and the Paris Agreement, all call for addressing these issues through assistance from the Annex 1 Parties in four (4) key areas, ie adaptation, mitigation, capacity-building, and finance.
The Second International Conference on Climate Finance (ICCF) 2019
Bangladesh is one of the most vulnerable countries to the impacts of climate change. Bangladesh is globally applauded for being a leader in climate action, and has set an example to help the poor and vulnerable by creating its own trust and resilience funds. Last year, as a flagship initiative of the Climate Finance Transparency Mechanism (CFTM) project (supported by PROKAS, British Council and UKAID), the first International Conference on Climate Finance (ICCF) was hosted in Dhaka in January 2018. The conference offered a platform for scientists, researchers, practitioners, and policy-makers to share and exchange different knowledge and ideas on the current and future climate finance issues. Bangladesh Center for Advanced Studies (BCAS), International Center for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) based at Independent University Bangladesh, and Center for Climate Change and Environmental Research, BRAC University continued the debate from last year’s ICCF to host the 2nd International Conference on Climate Finance on March 9-10 2019 in Dhaka. It was an intensive dialogue between over 200 national and international experts, practitioners, scientists and policy-makers from 17 countries who shared their knowledge, expertise, and experiences to tackle the complexities surrounding CF.
Objectives of ICCF 2019
The primary objective of ICCF 2019 was to discuss the existing and potential challenges of CF at present and in the future. The dialogue between national and international representatives also helped to enhance discussions surrounding financial contribution and political ownership of Parties to the UNFCCC and thereby contributed to improving climate governance and access to CF. A large number of issues were presented during the conference under 10 separate sessions which are as follows:
1. Challenges and opportunities to access funds for adaptation and mitigation
2. Effective climate finance governance
3. Integrating of gender, youth, and livelihood in climate change investment
4. Promoting policies for climate finance
5. Innovative approaches to address climate finance: Different country perspectives
6. Climate finance for private sector
7. Green climate finance mechanism: Experience, challenges and opportunities
8. Climate change impacts, access, and utilization of finance: Case studies and experiences
9. Strengthening climate finance mechanism: Recent initiatives in Bangladesh
10. Mobilizing climate finance
Challenges and opportunities to access funds
The two-day conference facilitated serious discourse on policies and actions on CF issues through high-level plenary sessions based on the challenges and opportunities to access global funds for adaptation and mitigation. Representatives from the UNFCCC, United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Oxford Policy Management, many government and non-government organizations discussed the various sources of CF, comparing the contributions from international and government public finances, also private commercial donors among others. The chief guest of the inaugural session, Dr Hasan Mahmud, Minister of Information maintained that the global military expenditure is rising; it was $230 per person in 2017-18 and 2.2% of the global GDP, but global climate finance is meagre. He threw the challenge that global leaders need to be more sensitized to the reality of climate change; only then can plans turn to implementation and access to climate finance be more accessible to attain.
Gender integration in climate change investment
Chaired by representatives from UN Women and IIED, one of the most interesting discussions of ICCF 2019 was on the integration of gender, youth and livelihoods in climate change investment. Starting from analyzing how CF can be made more gender responsible, the session presented case studies from West Africa and the impact of CF on people’s livelihood. It was highlighted that the international arena is increasingly recognizing the relevance of gender considerations in climate change action. However, the links between gender and climate change, in terms of expertise and wealth of knowledge, especially when linked to UNFCCC funding mechanisms, is still relatively new.
Climate finance for the private sector
The conference had effective dialogue to demonstrate the role of the private sector to look into the holistic approach of how private sectors and governments can collaborate in climate finances and technology. Also, it was echoed that levels of education or knowledge play a huge role in how people or communities cope with disasters. Thus, interventions should look into ways to address the more vulnerable communities in a viable way that helps build their capacity. Though the private sector is motivated by profit objectives, CF in due course will offer enhanced opportunities for private sector involvement in developing countries.
Although the Paris Agreement established major funding for addressing climate change of at leas $100 billion a year from 2020 onwards, there will be little significance in having these funds if the most vulnerable communities have no or limited access to it. There is a need for the government to be an immediate facilitator of climate initiatives with support from the private sector, where private finance instruments and mechanisms can support both adaptation and mitigation projects. However, a strong takeaway message from the concluding session was that while the private sector has an important role to play in climate change mainstreaming, it will only do so if their investments are secured. The needs of the private sector have to be clearly recognized before bringing them into the mainstream CF system.
Challenges and opportunities in green finance mechanism
Presenters also covered discussions on the challenges and opportunities of Green Finance Mechanism. A key message from this discussion is that innovative approaches are essential to build networks and avail CF. For instance, Indonesia recently issued the world’s first Green Sukuk Bond raising over $1.25 billion to invest in both Islamic and Green activities and hence it created a truly interesting way to capture the market demands.
The issue of clarity and standardization of a CF definition was raised throughout the conference, as there is no universal definition of CF. The importance of disclosing information by the developed countries on how they are going to finance in green technologies and climate change related issues was also referred to as an important point in the discussion. UNFCCC representatives mentioned that there are processes and efforts under the convention to encourage countries to articulate their needs and develop methodologies for adaptation. The discussions were wrapped up with the recommendation that it is imperative to emphasize how much financing is needed by the climate vulnerable countries and provide relevant action plans to the Convention.
The chief guest of the concluding session, Mr M A Mannan, planning minister of Bangladesh, appreciated the conference to draw the attention of key CF stakeholders, underlying the need for collaborative action to find solutions which is acceptable for all. He maintained that Bangladesh is an innocent victim due to its vulnerability, but the government is initiating many efforts to address this challenge. The government has brought comprehensive and holistic approach within policies and strategies plans with integration and mainstreaming of climate change, integrating into SDGs and even 100-year delta plan and recognized the contribution of this conference in the global CF discourse.
To sum up, ICCF 2019 was an exceptional platform to reflect the real needs of the vulnerable countries and highlights the demand side of CF. One message that was present throughout the conference was a concern regarding the inadequacy of funding under the Green Climate Fund (GCF). Some developed nations committed to generating $100 billion every year by 2020 but it is clearly not sufficient to tackle the emerging climate change issues. Developed countries will need to come forward to enhance initial commitment in the next years to save and tackle the emerging climate change issues.
Rapidly changing climate means that the destructive power of natural calamities is only going to increase in the future, and the recent cyclone Idai is a big example. This kind of severity needs immediate actions, and for that, we need large scale financial and technical resources. It is a reality that the poor are affected the most although they have a negligible contribution to the greenhouse gas emission; yet, they continue to contribute the highest proportion of their budget to cope with climate change, as was demonstrated by mainland studies of some countries. Ultimately, as Mr M A Mannan stated, the posterity have the right to enjoy what has been enjoyed by the past and present generations, and that, “to meet our common stake, we have to think outside the box and outside the borders.
Dr Atiq Rahman is the Executive Director of Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies (BCAS).
Sirazoom Munira is Senior Research Officer at BCAS and Adjunct Lecturer in the Department of Environmental Science at North South University.