The side events that ran alongside the international negotiations during the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 23rd Conference of Parties (COP) in Bonn, Germany, featured some of the liveliest discussions on solutions to climate change issues.
Various stake-holders agreed that the focus going forward must be on implementing the commitments and solutions provided for in the Paris Agreement. Channelling money appropriately to pay for these solutions is key to their success.
Whilst climate change is a global issue, its effects are experienced locally. These local experiences can vary from community to community, as each village, region, or city may face unique impacts as a result of sea level rise, extreme weather events, and increased temperatures.
Therefore, a key question is: What is required to get the money pledged under the global agreements to the communities and cities on the front line to meet their adaptation requirements, and to enable transparency and accountability for these recipients? In other words, how can adaptation finance serve those who are adapting?
At Development and Climate Days, a COP side event organised by various institutions, a seminar was held on adaptation finance. Here, a variety of interested parties contributed to an adaptation finance “hackathon” facilitated by Oxford Policy Management and Action on Climate Today.
The goal of the hackathon was to crowd-source innovative approaches to enhancing accountability to the recipients of international adaptation finance. It also aimed to gather new ideas on how to track both the amount being spent on adaptation in-country and what benefits this spending has.
Some discussions at the hackathon highlighted ongoing challenges with adaptation finance. What constitutes “adaptation” is still the subject of much dialogue, which makes it difficult to gather information on financing it in a transparent way.
There is no common definition of adaptation; on a narrow interpretation, adaptation can be seen as managing specific risks caused by climate change, whereas on a wider, more holistic and forward-looking interpretation, it is intertwined with development goals of enhancing and transforming lives and livelihoods.
The lack of concrete methodologies for tracking global adaptation finance flows adds to this challenge. The Paris Agreement provides for a country-driven approach to adaptation, which allows national governments to respond to domestic needs. Arguably, as a link between the local and the global levels, national level adaptation tracking and planning should evolve to be both aggregable for global stocktakes, whilst allowing local diversity.
Some stake-holders suggested at the hackathon that using GDP as the main metric is helpful as central government finance ministries speak this language, but another stake-holder suggested that at local government level, both financial and non-financial measures are needed.
The session also showcased some successes in decentralised adaptation finance. Mumina Bonaya of the Adaptation Consortium in Kenya presented and discussed the pilots of the Decentralising Climate Funds, in Kenya, Tanzania, Mali, and Senegal.
The projects involve local community committees in the decision-making process, to make informed choices and prioritise more impactful investments, and disburse finance through existing local governance systems. Example projects include those that deepen water sources, so that water stocks last longer; and investments in research for treating livestock diseases that are more prevalent due to climate change. Representatives from Ethiopia supported these successes, explaining that they believed such a strategy could work in their country, too.
These strategies could also be relevant for Bangladesh. Bangladesh already has a huge wealth of experience in dealing with natural and climate disasters. It now also has two national entities accredited to the Green Climate Fund, the newest global climate finance fund under the UNFCCC.
These entities can develop funding proposals and manage and monitor Green Climate Fund projects in Bangladesh. As Dr Saleemul Huq explained during COP23, transparency and accountability to recipients of adaptation finance must be achieved by engaging with the whole ecosystem of stake-holders, at every level.
In pursuing community-led adaptation finance that aims to be transparent, it appears that Bangladesh has an opportunity to continue to lead on increasing resilience to climate change in a way that enhances lives and livelihoods.
Charlotte Hugman was a Visiting Researcher at ICCCAD during summer 2017 and recently completed her MSc in Environmental Technology at Imperial College London.