Over the last three years (2010, 2011 and 2012) developed countries had promised to provide up to
$30 billion to the developing countries (LDC) to tackle climate change. They further pledged to provide the funds in a "balanced" manner between mitigation and adaptation and that such funding should be "new and additional" to Overseas Development Assistance (ODA). At the recently completed eighteenth Conference of Parties (COP18) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) held in Doha, Qatar in December 2012, the developed countries claimed to have provided over $33 billion over the three year period. However, other estimates from independent researchers in the US and UK found that less than a quarter of the total was allocated towards adaptation and that it was very difficult to trace exactly where those funds went.
The developed countries also pledged to provide up to $100 billion per year starting from 2020 through the "Green Climate Fund." However, they did not provide any concrete promises for the period between 2013 and 2020, except to say that they would try their best to maintain the same level of funding as before.
The situation at present is that some amount of funding to support adaptation in developing countries, with a focus on the LDCs, does seem to be flowing (although in a manner that is difficult to track properly). It is, therefore, important that the funds be seen to be utilised well and the benefits are transparent for all to see. There are number of actions that need to be carried out by both the developed countries providing the funds as well as the developing countries receiving the funds.
Need for transparency:
The first step is to ensure transparency in fund utilisation. This is as important for the countries which are providing these funds as it is for the countries receiving the funds. Thus, the developed countries should provide information about the channels through which funds are being sent to the developing countries as well as information on which countries are receiving the funds and, if possible, on which projects are receiving funding. For the countries receiving such funds, it is important that they provide information on how much is being received, where it is being spent and also who are the main beneficiaries. Transparency is thus an onus on both the givers of funds as well as the receivers of funds.
Demonstration of absorption capacity:
The second major issue is for the developing countries to demonstrate their ability to absorb and utilise adaptation funds properly and well. Thus, in future the amount of global adaptation funding that any developing country is likely to receive will be a function of ability to absorb and utilise funds rather than claims for vulnerability. If a developing country receives and uses $1 million well, it will receive five million. If it uses five million well, it will receive fifty million and if it uses fifty million well it will receive five hundred million. What it receives will be largely dependent on its demonstrated ability to absorb and use funds transparently and well.
Focus on most vulnerable:
The third issue is to ensure that there is a focus on the most vulnerable countries globally and also on the most vulnerable communities within all countries. At the global level this means a focus on the LDCs which have identified over 500 "urgent and immediate" adaptation projects through the National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPA) in nearly fifty LDCs, which would require around $3 billion over the next five years or so to implement. At the national level it will require the governments of developing country receiving global funds for adaptation to prioritise the most vulnerable communities within each country and support Community Based Adaptation (CBA) wherever possible.
Mainstreaming adaptation into development:
One of the significant outcomes at COP18 in Doha was an agreement for all developing countries to be supported to carry out the their NAPs, not just as stand-alone adaptation to climate change plans but much more a process of integrating or mainstreaming adaptation to climate change into regular national, sectoral and local level development planning. This will be an important element of adaptation planning in future.
Loss and damage:
This is a new issue that has come out of the COP18 "Doha Climate Gateway" agreement and will need to be considered alongside adaptation. It is still unclear what the overlaps with adaptation and loss and damage are and to what extent they may be the same. This is an emerging topic that will need to be further investigated in future.
Role of Bangladesh:
Bangladesh has already played a pioneering role on many aspects of adaptation, including the development of the Bnagdesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan (BCCSAP) as well as the setting up of two Climate Change Funds for implementing the BCCSAP. It is likely that Bangladesh can continue to play an important and pioneering role with respect to monitoring, reporting and transparency of climate change fund utilisation in future. This will not only act as an example for other developing countries to follow, but will also enable Bangladesh to lay claim to further amounts of global funding for adaptation if the country can demonstrate that it has a robust and transparent monitoring mechanism in place.
The next few years offer a window of opportunity for both developed countries as well as developing countries to demonstrate good practices with respect to spending global funds for adaptation to climate change, which will in turn be the major factor in ensuring that larger sums of global funding becomes available over the coming decades. The amount of global funding for adaptation will depend on proper utilisation and transparency of information rather than on claims for greater need on the basis of vulnerability alone.
The writer is Director, International Centre for Climate Change and Development, Independent University, Bangladesh and Senior Fellow at the London based international Institute for Environment and Development.