Fri | Sep 24, 2021

Earth Today | Multilateral funds to support climate-sensitive COVID recovery in developing world

Published:Thursday | July 29, 2021 | 12:05 AM
Eleanor Jones
Eleanor Jones

KEY PROVIDERS of multilateral climate dollars, among them the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and the Adaptation Fund (AF), have signalled the intention to adjust their operations to enable a climate-resilient recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic in the developing world.

“Developing countries are particularly vulnerable to compound risks from climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic, including the economic fallout from the pandemic. These nations require urgent access to long-term, affordable finance to implement climate-resilient recovery measures that will avoid emissions and climate-vulnerability lock-in for decades to come,” they said in a July 26 statement.

In addition to the GCF and AF, the other parties to the statement were the Climate Investment Funds, the Global Environmental Facility, the Least Developed Countries Fund, and the Special Climate Change Fund.

“The multilateral climate funds have a critical role to play in stimulating climate action that can accelerate post-COVID recovery by deploying innovative and scaled finance that can unlock economic resilience, improve health and create the next generation of green jobs,” the statement added.

Included in their promised actions are the scaling up and blending of finance, “including joint programming that leverages our cooperative advantages in support of countries most pressing receiver needs”; fund-to-fund collaboration platform on results, indicators and methodologies for measuring impact; knowledge sharing; stakeholder engagement; and a number of “flagship initiatives” to support innovation, climate resilience and economic recovery.

COVID-19 has seen the prioritisation of funds away from climate change, prompting concern from among local and regional stakeholders – even with the race to save lives amid a spiralling pandemic.

In response, Caribbean interests, including academics and representatives from the private sector, got together last year to bring into focus the pressing need to look at the linkages between COVID-19 and the environment.

This was achieved with a teleconference hosted virtually by The University of the West Indies (UWI) under the theme ‘COVID and the environment: For better or for worse?’ on World Environment Day.

“Notwithstanding the temporary reprieve that the pandemic seemed to provide for some aspects of the environment, there does not seem to be any significant inclusion of environmental concerns or even mention of the environment in discussions related to reopening, recovery, and living in the new COVID era,” Professor Michael Taylor, dean of the Faculty of Science and Technology at The UWI, said at the time.

“This would include a lack of discussion on how to maintain gains seen or how to handle environmental threats still present, while also trying to deal with COVID-19,” he added.

Things would appear to be changing, with the promised action from the multilateral climate funds – action welcomed by Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica representative, Eleanor Jones.

“It is an excellent idea; the blending is critical, the knowledge sharing is critical. We tend to operate in silos and we need to break down silos and cross borders. In the same way that climate change and COVID are borderless, we should not have borders with respect to funding,” she said.

Jones, also the head of Environmental Solutions Limited, added that developing countries also need to put themselves in a position to spend the money once it becomes available.

“We need to look at the capacity to deliver on these funds. The funds are available, but we delay in implementation in many ways and we need to become a lot more results based on our approach. It is not enough to get the money,” she cautioned.