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Developing countries struggle to access climate finance

Opinion & Analysis
Climate finance is investment that governments, corporations and households have to undertake in order to transition the world’s economy to a low carbon path and reduce greenhouse gas emission levels.

Peter Makwanya GLOBAL climate finance, which is viewed as being at the heart of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Paris Agreement, seeks to support mitigation and adaptation that will address the problematic climate change, around the world.

In this regard, special emphasis is placed on developing countries and island States, among others. However, the much-anticipated climate international rescuing packages continue to evade many developing countries.

Climate finance is investment that governments, corporations and households have to undertake in order to transition the world’s economy to a low carbon path and reduce greenhouse gas emission levels.

As anticipated, this will help developing countries build resilience to climate change and achieve net-zero.

In order to have a clear understanding of global climate finance issues, it is significant to have knowledge of where these funds come from.

The funds are channelled from developed countries through sources such as European Investment Bank for Reconstruction and Development, World Bank Group, Inter-American Development Bank Group, Asia Development Bank, African Development Bank, channelled through the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and Global Environmental Facility (GEF), among others.

Never mind the presence of the African Development Bank, among the multilateral financiers, read its policies and how it operates in order to find out where its money comes from.

The above-mentioned sources of global climate finance together with others not listed here, might appear numerous but the release of funds will surprise many. Although these major international banks fund other climate change programmes in developing countries, in terms of the Paris Agreement, it is GCF and the GEF, which are mandated to provide global climate finance to developing countries.

GCF has been in the forefront in providing climate finance to developing countries although the money disbursed so far is too small to make any meaningful impact.

While the duty of GCF is to source climate funding for developing countries to fund their adaptation and mitigation programmes, the process of releasing the funds has been surprisingly too slow.

The small amounts, that have been disbursed so far, have been directed to south and east Asian countries, the Pacific and the Caribbean Islands, leaving Sub Saharan Africa as the least funded yet it is the most vulnerable.

Furthermore, the process of accessing the money from GCF, is very cumbersome, frustrating and slow, sometimes the money never comes at all.

Due to suffocating monetary challenges and historical debts that African countries already have, coupled with their nature of vulnerabilities, the continent appears to be expecting too much and investing all its faith in GCF.

Most of the financial burdens that African countries shoulder are not climate related but are a result of over-borrowing from International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, suffocating international monetary schemes such as Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (ESAP), cost of wars and conflicts, endemic poverty, hunger and famine, including looting of mineral resources, corruption and governance issues.

Above all, Africa is where everything bad happens whether by design, commission or omission.

These afore-mentioned challenges make it difficult for developing countries especially those in Africa to be sufficiently ready and prepared to deal with the impacts of climate change including the COVID-19 pandemic.

These most vulnerable nations always find themselves missing out on the crucial climate finance for one reason or another or none, but just being skipped or overlooked.

The GCF’s mandate of mobilising funds for developing countries to reduce carbon emissions and adapt to global warming has been over-estimated.

This includes its roles of mobilising climate funds, accessing them and disbursing them, deciding whom to give first or later and why, all these are not in the public domain. From the perspectives of many stakeholders, GCF is loaded with climate finance which it is ever ready to donate. The concept of donor-ship has never been clear in the African contexts, as it is seen to be characterised by freebies that should be grabbed without any form of accountability.

A closer analysis of the developing countries that need funding to counter the adverse impacts of climate change reveals that almost all these countries are particularly vulnerable, especially those in Africa.

The most troubling issue is that African countries are not prioritised, which make them somewhat forgotten. Although the climate funds are believed to be guaranteed, it is the complex process of acquiring these funds which has slowed down the whole funding mechanism.

What is not clear is whether developing countries’ vulnerabilities contribute to their failure in crafting climate finance proposals.

One wonders if lacking the capacity to cope with the negative impacts of climate-change renders them incapable of drafting sound proposals, this is astonishingly mind boggling.

Furthermore, when developing countries fail to impress in their adaptation programmes, can we really say that they would have actually failed or they would have been failed by the GCF’s bottlenecks.

Quite a number of things do not seem to be adding up here. Everything becomes somewhat calculated especially when the source of funds is still the same that has contributed to stifling growth, nursing poverty, funding conflicts and wars on the African continent ever since.

To date, even the most vulnerable countries in Africa like Eritrea, Burundi and Yemen in the Middle East, do not seem to have received any climate funding yet they are still neck deep in all sorts of developmental challenges, climate change included.

Without being able to attract meaningful investments, without a viable private sector, lack of technology transfer, absence of ambitions for climate adaptation and lack of appropriate governance systems including inward looking, these developing countries make themselves potential candidates for abuse and bullying by multilateral financiers.

For these reasons, the process of accessing climate finance remains littered with obstacles, barriers, bottlenecks, complexities, very length and unjust practices. According to the SDGs, these international financiers are leaving the poor behind. Some have been forgotten completely yet they are expected to participate meaningfully in climate change mitigation and adaptation.

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