How the Green Climate Fund can help Bangladesh address climate change challenges

Bangladesh is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change. The poor and the marginal groups stand to suffer the most from adverse climate effects. Change in the climate is also having a disproportionately large impact on the life, property and livelihoods of poor groups in Bangladesh. The concerns and vulnerability of poor and vulnerable people should be the warp and woof of our strategy for implementing a climate resilient development pathway.

The investment required for undertaking adaptation and mitigation efforts is huge. As public sources for meeting this investment demand are inadequate, it is necessary that external funding and private flows, both domestic and international, bring complementary financial resources to bridge the gap. Yearly public sector funding in Bangladesh for climate change related programmes and projects reached approximately $800 million in FY14.

One of the remarkable successes of Copenhagen Climate Summit (COP-15) in 2009 was securing firm funding commitments for climate change adaptation and mitigation in developing countries. Developed countries at that meeting agreed to provide ‘new and additional’ resources to the tune of $100 billion per annum by 2020 with balanced allocation between adaptation and mitigation. Consequently, the Green Climate Fund (GCF) was established in COP-16 in 2010 under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The fund will be available for member countries coping with and adapting to the effects of climate change. The governing board of the GCF has decided to use its funds equally for adaptation and mitigation purposes on 50/50 basis. The GCF aims to mobilise $200 billion by 2020.

The recent UNFCCC process has reinforced the importance of strong national climate strategies as well as in-country institutional structures, and there were strong urgings within these discussions on “direct access.” These discourses have made me share my personal thoughts in the context of GCF, while my organisation (ERD, Ministry of Finance) has been nominated as National Designated Authority (NDA) of Bangladesh to the fund. Direct access to climate fund is a long-standing expectation of Bangladeshi institutions, as this also demonstrates recognition of the strength of our national institutions in global standard. As NDA of Bangladesh for GCF, I have been looking at the matters very carefully, and found that the process of direct access is difficult and challenging, but also brings opportunities for institutional capacity development.

climate-change_5GCF is expected to play a key role in channeling new, additional, adequate and predictable financial resources to developing countries. The GCF is different from many other global funds as it will be scalable and flexible in nature; it is meant to maximise the impact of adaptation and mitigation actions in a way that transforms the business-as-usual development, while bringing environmental, social, economic and development benefits in a more inclusive and gender-sensitive way.

Bangladesh is a member of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation, and a sitting member of the Global Partnership Steering Committee. As such, our country continues to stress the strong need to use effective development co-operation principles, including country-owned development, a focus on results and inclusive partnerships, in our daily co-operation with national and international partners. These principles must also help guide the global discussions this year on Financing for Development and the Post-2105 agenda to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, as well as how Bangladesh will work with the GCF.

The GCF provides a clear example of how using effective development co-operation principles can support country driven development to produce results that impact how Bangladesh will be able to continue to fight poverty with the added challenge of climate change, now and in the future. As established at the first Financing for Development Conference in Monterrey in 2003, and to be continued this July in Addis Ababa, development co-operation must use frameworks that are led by developing countries to be masters of their own growth and development.

The GCF will start to receive project/programme funding from least developed countries, Small Island Developing States and African states from June 2015. The Bangladeshi government is keen on accreditation of its potential National Implementing Entities (NIE) with GCF so that accredited NIEs can start implementing climate change projects immediately. NDA is trying hard to support the national entities so that a few of the national institutions are accredited to GCF and direct access is significantly enhanced.

The NDA recently organised a workshop, at which 14 national entities reviewed their capacity self-assessment with the direct guidance of GCF representatives and an international experts. We are very encouraged by the interest of the national institutions, and the way they are stepping up to get ready for accreditation is highly appreciable. However, the process is challenging and there are opportunities to gain direct access to GCF. We need to take a pragmatic path in accreditation process. I will highlight a few steps here.

Institutional Capacity
The first and most important step should be improving institutional capacity in the area of environmental and social safeguard policy and practices. We have Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) guideline, which is widely practiced both in public and private sector projects, and this EIA includes social safeguard issues as well. However, we need to improve our EIA practices at both project and programme level.

Create an Enabling Environment
The second step will be to enhance the fiduciary standards and project management capacities. This might demand strong efforts as the fiduciary standards needed might not be seen within one entity, as we follow a wider institutional architecture in fiduciary risk management of our public funds, where auditor general’s office, accounts department, finance cell of different ministries, internal audit and monitoring process of different institutions, implementation, monitoring and evaluation by IMED and accountability through public accounts committee play critical roles, and all these needs to be factored. Therefore, the task is not easy and the capacities need to be properly articulated, maintained, recorded and presented in favour of the fiduciary standards in the accreditation application process. We also need to be frank and self-stimulating in meeting the gaps, if any, in the self-assessment process.

Ensure well-planned programming
The third, and in my view most critical, step is to have well designed and credible bankable projects or programmes to be forwarded to GCF for funding. We have a significant number of project ideas developed by different ministries. These ideas will be translated into bankable projects for submission to GCF. This requires further effort and will probably be the most important task before us in the near future to get access to GCF.

I am hopeful that Bangladesh will be able to directly access funding from GCF in the near future. I am optimistic about the potential of GCF in transforming the development landscape in addition to the development aid that we get under ODA.

Senior_secretary_ERDAbout the Author: Mohammad Mejbahuddin is the Senior Secretary of Economic Relations Division and National Designated Authority of Bangladesh to Green Climate Fund, Bangladesh.

This post was originally published in the Daily Star newspaper in an edited format.

Local priorities to tackle economic development challenges and fight poverty

How can we empower local governments as leaders of development? Before answering this important question, I wish to first address why local governments should be leaders of development strategies.

We have heard it many times before: the future is local. Developmental challenges are most evident at local level. Take, for example, my own municipality of Eastern-Cape Emalahleni Local Municipality in the South-East of South Africa. My country might meet some of the Millennium Development Goals targets as a result of the national average, but we still have much to do to tackle extreme poverty in my own area. I am really worried about opportunities for youth and for vulnerable groups in our municipality. The issue of unemployment, as well as the need for housing, is particularly problematic in my Emalahleni.

Local governments must respond to the development challenges of our citizens. Our municipality’s task is to think about innovative ways of job creation and food security. We need to localise our production, to ensure that for every product we produce, we are able to process it locally. A value chain within the municipality needs to be created.

These are absolute priorities for Emalahleni municipality. But sustainability is an issue. Projects are being started and concluded, but continuity is hardly ever ensured. I can even say that the funding itself is not the main issue for development in my municipality, but it is crucial to ensure that we, as a municipality, and with the support of our development partners, train our inhabitants and maintain skills within our territory. As a municipality, we cannot employ all inhabitants, so many capable people with entrepreneurship skills leave if we don’t provide them with opportunities. Our integrated development planning needs to initiate projects that can create sustainable jobs. If we manage to localise the production, we can create opportunities for entrepreneurship that will not depend on employment by the government.

Local governments take a leading role in development strategies

6375619585_f857c553c0_bLocal governments are on the frontline of dealing with development challenges and identifying solutions to these challenges. It is therefore only natural that they should lead development strategies for their areas.

In Emalahleni municipality, for example, it is important that we ensure education in relation to the economic demand of the area and at the same time, work on the region’s ability to attract businesses. This can also be done in partnership with development partners and our central government, but we at local government level need the capacity to create dialogue with these stakeholders.

In order to empower local governments to seize their role in development strategies, I think it is crucial to strengthen their capacities. Cross-sectoral concerns can be addressed by consultations between the national, provincial and city level officials in the areas of health, environment, housing, and others to ensure co-ordination. I believe that this vertical co-ordination and co-operation currently gets too little attention in South Africa. Strengthening local governments is crucial to achieve the development goals. A top down approach by central government can result in development policies that are ill-adapted to local needs and contexts.

How to strengthen capacities
There are various ways to strengthen local government capacity. Programmes implemented by the national government can strengthen decentralisation, possibly supported by international donors. Individual support can also come from partner local governments in the region or other parts of the world.

Emalahleni municipality is supported through the Local Government Capacity Programme, managed by VNG International, the international co-operation agency of the Association of Netherlands Municipalities (VNG). This type of co-operation, in which Dutch municipal experts from the City of Dordrecht (Netherlands) partner with experts from our municipality, complements other relevant support. The co-operation focuses on local economic development, a very important matter for my municipality, as I mentioned earlier.

I have found that this type of peer-to-peer decentralised co-operation has a high degree of relevance, efficiency, effectiveness and sustainability in comparison to other development co-operation programmes. The themes and issues addressed in the co-operation initiatives are based on the key priorities for the municipalities involved and on long-term relationships, which are based on trust, transparency and good dialogue.

I think it is very important that this instrument of local government development co-operation be recognized as one of the ways to reach the post-2015 development goals.

United Cities and Local Governments

The global organisation of United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), along with the local government associations of Canada (FCM) and the Netherlands (VNG International) have set up a group of UCLG Champions on Development Co-operation. This group of mayors from different continents aims to boost recognition for the role of local government development co-operation at all levels. I, as mayor of the municipality of Emalahleni in South Africa, am part of this group. My electorate and my municipal council understand and advocate for the important role that local governments play in development.

Within the steering committee of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation, I believe we should focus on the way in which we ensure that local governments be seen as full partners in the definition of national development strategies. This should also be subject to monitoring of the Global Partnership. Also, I am sure that our challenges are shared by many other local governments. Let us share approaches, to ensure effective solutions for better development.

ChampionNyukwana.jpgAbout the Author
Nomveliso Nyukwana is mayor of Emalahleni Municipality, South Africa, since 2011, after serving many years as a councillor. Since 2012 she has been appointed as UCLG Champion on Development Cooperation for the global organization of United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG). The UCLG Champions are supported by the UCLG Capacity and Institution Building Working Group, which has its secretariat within the International Co-operation Agency of the Association of Netherlands Municipalities (VNG International). For more information contact uclg.cib@vng.nl.

Launch of the International Health Partnership’s 2014 monitoring report

The International Health Partnership (IHP+), which assesses progress of IHP+ partners in meeting commitments of the principles of effective development cooperation in the health sector, conducted its fourth round of monitoring in 2014. The report and country and agency scorecards are now available online. Data was collected at country level and validated by ministries of health, with participation by 24 IHP+ countries.

Compared to previous rounds, the findings suggest an overall improvement in mutual accountability processes at country level:

  • More development partners aligned their support with country results frameworks, although partners vary in how much of their funding is aligned (from 21% to 98%);
  • Governments reported similar levels while development partners increased support for civil society organisations’ engagement in health policy and planning processes.

However, there appears to be stagnation or decline in alignment with national budget processes and financial management systems:

  • Overall some 71% of external funds for health were recorded in the national budget (similar to the 2012 monitoring round), but nine out of 12 development partners with trend data reported reductions in the proportion of aid that was on budget;
  • For eight countries with relatively strong public financial management systems and with trend data, there was a decline in use of public financial management systems by development partners (down to 41% of funding, from 65% in the previous monitoring round).Compared to previous rounds, the findings suggest an overall improvement in mutual accountability processes at country level. However, there appears to be stagnation or decline in alignment with national budget processes and financial management systems.

The GPEDC’s Joint support Team and the IHP+’s Core Team are currently exploring options to further strengthen synergies between the GPEDC’s second monitoring round (2015-2016) and the IHP’s fifth monitoring exercise.

Access the following link for more information on the IHP+