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Access to climate funds baffles stakeholders

Two years after the landmark Paris Agreement on climate change, developing countries and their climate finance partners are still figuring out which projects are eligible for climate funding, says the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

This came as the Green Climate Fund (GCF) rejected to fund a US$100 million project designed to help more than 1 million Ethiopians adapt to severe droughts that have stricken the country. The project was put forward by UNDP in tandem with the government of Ethiopia.

The GCF board members threw out the proposal, arguing it was a development project and not necessarily related to climate change.

“Assessing whether or not a project is climate related requires undertaking a significant amount of climate modeling work or analysis, which is a major challenge for developing countries,” said Pradeep Kurukulasuriya, Head of Climate Change Adaptation at the UNDP.

Kurukulasuriya said other common challenges developing countries face include a lack of historical data at community level and a lack of technical capacity for forecasting the impacts of climate change, as well as the effects of adaptation in both the near- and long-term.

He said agriculture, water and livelihood projects brought the tensions between development and climate into sharp focus.

For some projects, separating the 2 is simple. Most mitigation initiatives, like renewable energy, clearly fall under the climate heading. One can quantify precisely how much a solar or geothermal project result in reduced or avoided emissions that would have otherwise accumulated due to the use of dirty energy sources like coal and oil. But making the green funding argument for adaptation projects can be tricky when so much of it touches upon development.

Dr. Saleemul Huq, Director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development, said while the need for increased support of climate related projects was undeniable, the type of projects that the GCF chose to fund had drawn heavy criticism from stakeholders.

“Even when projects are approved, they tend to be very large-scale infrastructure projects and very little of the funds actually go down to the grassroots, the most vulnerable communities, and that’s a very big disconnect,” said Huq.

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