Defining Africa’s Green Fund

Posted on 09 December 2010 by admin

Rosebell Kagumire interviews DR ANTHONY NYONG, Head of Compliance Safeguards at the African Development Bank.

CANCÚN, Dec 8, 2010 (IPS/TerraViva) – Funding to developing countries to support reduced emissions and adaptation to the impacts of climate change is one of the tasks before negotiators and politicians at the U.N.’s Climate Conference in Cancún.

The African Development Bank’s Dr Anthony Nyong explains Africa’s position on how much money is needed, for what, and who should manage it. Excerpts of the interview follow.

Q: You have presented a proposal to set up a continental fund called the African Green Fund, but we haven’t seen any money. How much money is to be made available for Africa’s adaptation needs?

A: The baseline matter is straightforward, but some people have decided to complicate it.

In December 2009 when they endorsed the Copenhagen Accord, the fast-track finance that was agreed upon was for 2010-2012. In Copenhagen, developed nations made political commitments to provide developing countries with $30 billion dollars for the period from 2010 to 2012 for adaptation and mitigation.

The AfDB has drawn up a proposal to have a Africa Green Fund. This was supported by all African nations, that Africa should take care of the climate finance at a regional level.

The proposed fund includes enhanced direct access by countries, complete alignment with Africa’s priorities and processes as well as the strengthening of country systems to support the implementation of projects.

This Fund has been recognised in a report by the panel of experts that the U.N. Secretary General tasked to look at long-term climate financing and how we can get to the $100 billion annually by 2020 that develop countries opened up to. And we are represented by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia on the team the looks at the options of getting this money. This report will be put before the parties this week.

This panel has proposal that the African Green Fund should receive about $20 billion a year, but that’s not our recommendation. Africa’s recommendation is $40 billion a year. The Fund is not just an initiative of the bank, it’s an initiative of the continent, we are simply responding to that request.

This will help implement projects in mitigation, adaptation and other enabling areas like capacity building and technology transfer, all the things that are being negotiated.

Q: African negotiators have quoted varying amounts needed for the continent’s adaptation to climate change. What do you see as the most credible number?

A: When you are costing for adaptation, many people cost adaptation to include basic development. If you don’t have good roads, you can’t implement your disaster reduction strategy. If you do not have good hospitals, you cannot adapt to the health impacts of climate change.

So it varies. Some put the cost of basic development down as part of adaptation; for others, they see adaptation without necessarily including the cost of basic infrastructure.

I personally support the model that tells you that adaptation consists of basic development and then the additional costs to be incurred by climate change.

Q: Who should manage an adaptation fund?

A: Regional development banks should manage the funds. These funds should not be centralised anymore.

We want these resources decentralised to bring them closer to the people. If you manage this centrally, it defeats the purpose of distributed development. My take is that the regional development banks like the African Development Bank should manage the fund.

Q: Will the Fund rely entirely on money agreed at these negotiations?

A: No, African countries too will make commitments to this fund and the African development fund will not stop countries from accessing climate funds outside this regional framework.

Q: You have warned African negotiators not to accept an agreement that won’t work for Africa, and you have used the example of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). How has this failed?

A: During the negotiation process for the Clean Development Mechanism in Kyoto, the financing mechanism was not fully aligned with Africa’s needs and priorities. We don’t want this to be repeated.

The problems of CDM are many, the first being that the level of development cannot easily support projects that would help us earn any carbon credits from carbon market. We have not seen many sustainable development projects in the energy sector because we have largely renewable energy.

Then the second problem is that the sectors that actually generate emissions from Africa were largely excluded, like agriculture and forestry.

The third problem  is that the transaction costs of doing business in Africa is till high. This had led to the low levels of participation in this mechanism for Africa.

Q: How certain are you that developed countries will deliver the money, taking into account the current financial economic crises in Europe?

A: There are crises and there are commitments. There are things you have to do even when you have a crisis. And a commitment to climate change adaptation  is one of them.

We expect that these countries will honor their commitments to ensure that there’s a global solution to climate change. We spend a lot of time talking about funds, but the best way of adaptation is mitigation. If you do not cut your green house gas emissions there’s no amount of money that can help.

So the developed countries have two things to do. First, cut down their emissions to scientifically acceptable levels, and secondly, provide resources for countries that are affected to take action.

Q: What will be the role of the new Climate Change Policy Centre set up by the African Union, African Development Bank and the U.N. Economic Commission for Africa?

A: The Centre will guide our policy development to ensure that countries are capacitated enough to address the challenges and effects of climate change.

There are two issues we have to address in Africa to cope with climate change, projects and policies. One of the reasons why renewable energy is not expansively implemented in Africa is because we do not have policies. The Policy Centre will ensure that African countries have policy and regulatory reforms to ensure climate change initiatives are taken up.

(END)

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