Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies (BCAS), Centre for Climate Change Centre for Climate Change and Environmental Research (C3ER), BRAC University, and International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) at Independent University Bangladesh, with support from PROKAS, British Council, and UK Aid organized the International Conference on Climate Finance (ICCF) during January 27-28, 2018 at the Bangabandhu International Conference Center (BICC), Dhaka.
The main objective of the conference was to create opportunities for local and international participants to exchange and debate on the present and future scopes, opportunities, and challenges of climate finance.
The conference also offered engagement of multi-stakeholder representatives from all sectors including research, academia, government, private sector, civil society, media, and local communities to build strong connections through knowledge-sharing related to climate finance issues.
Private sector can play vital role in not only mitigation but also in adaptation across the world
The ICCF 2018 accommodated about 200 national and international participants from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Russia, Nigeria, Canada, Brazil, United Kingdom, Italy, and other countries.
Mr Anisul Islam Mahmud, MP, Honourable Minister, Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh inaugurated the conference as the chief guest. He described how the government is taking initiatives to address the effects of climate change in Bangladesh.
Mr Mohammad Muslim Chowdhury, Secretary in Charge of the Finance Division at the Ministry of Finance joined the conference as the special guest. He clearly mentioned the special allocation to address climate change since 2010. He also emphasizes on the integration of climate change in budget system.
Dr Saleemul Huq, Director of ICCCAD, Dr Paul Desanker of UNFCCC, and Mr Golam Rabbani of BCAS spoke in the inaugural session. Dr Atiq Rahman, Executive Director of BCAS chaired the session.
The inaugural speakers referred the Bangladesh Climate Change Trust Fund (BCCTF) and Bangladesh Climate Change Resilience Fund (BCCRF) initiative to address climate change within the country. Bangladesh was one of the first countries to try a “trust fund” approach and a number of countries have emulated this model later.
In his chair’s speech, Dr Atiq said, “Bangladesh has prioritized adaptation, but mitigation and low carbon development is also very important to keep the planet green.”
Technical sessions and plenary discussions on climate finance
The technical sessions of the conference covered a wide range of themes such as climate finance governance, climate finance gaps and challenges, financing private sector to address climate change, comparative analysis of climate finance in Bangladesh with other developing countries, allocation of climate funds to mitigation and adaptation activities, gender and youth focused climate finance, innovative climate financing mechanism, and mobilizing climate finance.
A total of 24 technical presentations were held under eight thematic areas to provide ideas, debate, and discuss the climate finance issues.
Mr Abul Maal Abdul Muhith, MP, Honourable Finance Minister of Ministry of Finance (MOF), spoke as the chief guest in the concluding session of the ICCF. He emphasized on the steps taken from his ministry to address climate change in Bangladesh.
He acknowledged the funding necessary to address loss and damages of the poor people during climatic disasters. He also underscored the importance of involving local communities as well as local government institutions in implementation of adaptation and mitigation projects.
Dr Kamal Uddin Ahmed, of the Planning Commission and Ms Nihad Kabir, President of MCCI attended the ICCF as special guests.
Dr Saleemul Huq, Dr Ainun Nishat, Professor Emeritus at BRAC University, Mr Joel Harding of UK Aid, Dr Shahnaz Karim of British Council, and Dr Monirul Q Mirza from University of Toronto also spoke in the concluding session. Dr Atiq Rahman, Executive Director, BCAS chaired the concluding session.
Key points related to climate finance discussed in ICCF 2018 are:
1. Improvement of climate finance governance:
Based on the positive learning experiences, eg BCCTF, BCCRF, and the Indonesian Funding Initiative, the countries need to improve its governance mechanism to have access and effectively use of climate funds.
Development of budgeting and performance management was also identified as a crucial element of climate finance governance. Participation of multi-stakeholders and maintaining of transparency and accountability need to be ensured. Strengthen the local government’s capacity to host an effective channel to design and implement pro-poor climate finance regime.
2. Addressing climate finance-gaps and challenges:
Institutional capacity, current finance governance mechanism, accessing climate finance, and tracking of climate finance was identified as major challenges in the climate finance discourse. Local level climate finance framework and public-private partnership can be strengthened to overcome challenges and building long-term resilience.
3. Enabling environment for financing private sector to address climate change:
It was well acknowledged that the private sectors are not adequately involved in the climate change decision-making process or implementation of government policy and strategies in many countries, including Bangladesh.
However, private sector can play vital role in not only mitigation but also in adaptation across the world. It is extremely important to share climate change knowledge, strategies, and technologies with the private sector for playing effective role.
If necessary, the government may introduce financial incentives and regulatory risk reduction frameworks to encourage the private sector to address climate change. Private-public partnership has been encouraged for technology development and technology transfer.
4. Effective allocation of climate finance:
The countries, government, institutions need to prioritize vulnerable sectors for climate finance allocation. It is necessary that all governments encourage transition from traditional options to “innovations” and inter-disciplinary aspects for allocation on adaptation and mitigation projects.
Financing to increase carbon sink to facilitate green development is also important. Huge resources need to be allocated to address “climate related poverty, and loss and damage.”
5. Gender and youth focused finance:
Climate finance could be a tool for women’s empowerment and resilience. Gender and youth integrated climate finance mechanism would address long-term vision and sustainability of the investment.
6. Mobilization of climate finance:
Institutional capacity to access and utilize the climate finance is extremely important. The countries and relevant authorities have to identify, discuss, and negotiate to have access to all public, private, multi-lateral, and bi-lateral funds. Playing active roles by relevant organizations is pre-condition for mobilizing climate finance.
Md Golam Rabbani is a Fellow, Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies (BCAS)