By David Singh
Bamako, 15 September: The Cancun-agreed Green Climate Fund which aims to provide US$100 billion per annum by 2020 to assist developing countries in financing adaptation, was a hot topic for discussion at today’s Fourth Special Session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN).
In the expert group meetings leading up to the opening of the AMCEN Conference, the Fund, which has set targets of US$30 billion per annum between 2010 and 2012, increasing to US$100 billion per annum from 2013-2020, has fueled much of the discussions. African nations point to the complexity of the fund’s framework and their need for easier and ‘fast track’ access through national mechanisms as well as the African Development Bank (ADB). Donor countries on the other hand would prefer more monitoring and accountability for the funds.
Additionally, Africa, which Deputy Executive Director of the United Nation Environmental Programme’s (UNEP) Regional Office for Africa, Amina Mohamed, described as “one the most vulnerable regions of the world”, is requesting a bigger percentage of the fund. According the ADB, the average cost of climate change adaptation to African economies could be anywhere between 1.5 and 3 percent of gross domestic product – a substantial threat to the achievement of sustainable development and poverty alleviation.
Kamal El Kheshen, ADB Vice President Sector Operations, said: “African countries benefit little from the current financial mechanism in place or proposed”. He said current frameworks were conceived with global responses in mind and were not very Africa centred. “The Africa Green Fund is the only hope for African countries to have real access to funds committed’’ he said.
In a more cautionary stance, Monique Barbut, Chief Executive Officer and Chairperson of the Global Environment Facility (GEF), pointed to the persistent crisis scenario of today’s world and asked what more could be expected from donors who were all dealing with their own national financial issues, and particularly Japan, which was still recovering from a major disaster.
The bigger question she said is “how do we profit from existing financial architecture since the luxury of waiting 10 years for a new fund is not an option. We need to capitalize on existing mechanisms so that they can respond to necessary changes, make them more transparent, streamlined, country-focused and ensure that there are common standards”. “As COP 17 approaches, I hope Africa speaks with one voice to express wisdom and pragmatism”, she added.
Commenting generally on the issue of financing today, Deputy Regional Coordinator for UNISDR Africa, Youcef Ait-Chellouche said, “Climate change adaptation financing should be guided by an understanding that effective development investments reduce disaster risks. Climate change adaptation financing should be spent in the most cost-effective manner through no-regrets investments which seek to reduce vulnerability and increase adaptative capacity”. He added that the measure of the cost effectiveness of existing adaptation financing should be informed by an assessment of existing disaster risk reduction investments.
Another issue of concern today was the proposal for a so-called “second commitment period” of the Kyoto Protocol which would extend it, but which Japan’s Ambassador for Global Environmental Affairs, Masahiko Horie, described as “not the right approach” because it would weaken the momentum to establish a new, fair and effective framework. “A second commitment will cement the current framework under which only a small part of developed countries have the obligation to cut Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions”.
Also addressing the issue of the Protocol, Tomasz Chruszczow, the European Union’s Special Envoy for Climate Change said the Union had built on the Kyoto Protocol and had even expressed a willingness to work with the second commitment. But rejection by some and hesitation by others had forcibly brought home the fact that no one country alone could solve the issue of global warming. ”Fixing a problem is not a viable option when there are only a few parties involved. Durban has to therefore give us a road map – we are all on the same side – so let’s have it continued and done”, he said.
Tomorrow is the final day and action is expected on a draft resolution, submitted by the working group that addresses the major issues and concerns raised in the last four days.
The 2011 UN Climate Change Conference will be held in Durban, South Africa, from 28 November to 9 December, is referred to as the 17th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
AMCEN was established in December 1985, following a conference of African ministers of environment held in Cairo, Egypt. Its mandate is to provide advocacy for environmental protection in Africa; to ensure that basic human needs are met adequately and in a sustainable manner; to ensure that social and economic development is realized at all levels; and to ensure that agricultural activities and practices meet the food security needs of the region.