Sat | Sep 23, 2017

Marcia Levaggi moves on from Adaptation Fund

Published:Thursday | October 6, 2016 | 10:00 AM
Marcia Levaggi
Clifford Mahlung
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Marcia Levaggi is the female dynamo, face and voice with which many have come to associate the Adaptation Fund's (AF) efforts to maintain its service to developing countries, including Jamaica, to bolster their readiness for climate change.

After seven years of helping to steer the fund, however, the attorney and career diplomat is moving on.

"It has been a wonderful journey," said the woman who will go down in history as the first manager of the AF Secretariat.

"I started in 2009 and the secretariat didn't exist. Now I leave seven years, and I think, eight months after I started, with a team that although it is small is fully functional, well-respected, very effective; and which I think has been able to work very well with the board," she added.

Levaggi - who will leave office officially on October 21 to take up her new position as director general of environmental affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Argentina - is proud of her tenure with, and work of, the fund.

"One of the achievements of the fund is that it is a collective success. The board and the secretariat have worked very well together and been pushed by the civil society to work for the very best interest of the fund," she said.

"I think the three success components of the fund are the board, the civil society - especially the Adaptation Fund Network - and the secretariat, which have been able to work together in achieving what was best for the fund and to build a mechanism that was nimble and can quickly reach the most vulnerable communities, the beneficiaries," Levaggi told The Gleaner.

"(Together, they have also) been able to pilot a very innovative way of channelling funds which is the direct-access modality that has now 24 and hopefully, in a couple of days, 25 NIES (national implementing entities) accredited and 18 projects implemented through the direct-access modality," she said further.

"Although I think we could do more if we had more funds available, I am very satisfied with what we achieved," she noted.

The AF has grappled for some years now with raising funds to finance projects, following the downturn in the carbon market from which it should have received much of its financing, courtesy of two per cent of proceeds from projects developed under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).

Clifford Mahlung, former chairman of the CDM and a respected Jamaican climate change negotiator, had nothing but high praise for Levaggi while wishing her well in her new post.

OUTSTANDING MANAGER

"She has made tremendous strides being the first manager of the AF Secretariat. There have been difficulties, but her work as manager was outstanding," he said.

"I knew her from she was a negotiator representing the government of Argentina, where she was very strident in particular on issues related to adaptation; and she brought that knowledge, experience and know-how to the Adaptation Fund and was able to achieve quite a lot. We have seen where several of the large countries have contributed money to the fund so that the pipeline of projects could receive funding," he added.

"The Adaptation Fund was the first real effort to fund adaptation in a direct and efficient way and we are all grateful to Marcia for her work in ensuring that the fund worked in the interest of the developing country parties, in particular small-island developing states and least developing countries," Mahlung said further.

Levaggi, meanwhile, has wished for her successor the same trust in him or her that the board placed in her.

"I think that was key to my success," she noted.

And to her successor, she said: "I would advise him or her to continue building on this partnership between the board, civil society and the secretariat, and being respectful of the country needs and try to be true to the mandate of the fund which is addressing adaptation for the most vulnerable communities in developing countries."

Added Levaggi: "The fund has, and in particular through the direct-access modality, fund projects that are small and medium size, but these are the projects that will allow other funds to replicate and fund bigger interventions at scale. So this ro'e is very important for paving the way for the Green Climate Fund to become the transformational fund it is supposed to be."

Since 2010, the Adaptation Fund has committed US$354.89 million to support 54 concrete, localised climate adaptation and resilience projects in 48 countries, with more than 3.6 million direct beneficiaries.

- P.W.R.