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AFRICA: Anxious Eyes on Green Climate Fund

JOHANNESBURG, Mar 18 2011 (IPS) - The African Development Bank says it is concerned about administrative delays holding up progress on the Green Climate Fund – one of the most significant achievements from the Cancún climate talks.

Africa's smallholder farmers are among those most urgently in need of funding for climate adaptation. Credit:  Kristin Palitza/IPS

Africa’s smallholder farmers are among those most urgently in need of funding for climate adaptation. Credit: Kristin Palitza/IPS

“We are very frustrated by the slow progress in setting up the structures to deliberate on the Climate Fund,” said Donald Kaberuka, Executive Director of the regional Bank. “But I hope that we can catch up quickly, and we hope that the Committee can listen to African grievances, African concerns,” he added.

One of the few firm deadlines set in Cancún was for a 40-nation meeting of the Transitional Committee designing the Green Climate Fund to take place before the end of March 2011. The meeting has now been postponed until late April, because of disagreements about regional representation.

An agreement must be reached at the next Conference of the Parties (COP), to be hosted in Durban in December 2011, said Kaberuka.

“For us Africans, COP 17 must come out with a concrete agreement on the Fund, its governance, and of course, ensure there is money in there,” Kaberuka said.

“I hope that these delays are temporary and administrative, and not anything to do with policy or otherwise,” he added.

No cause for alarm

But other observers say the delays are understandable, and should not be viewed as a decline of political will.

Belynda Petrie, CEO of climate think-tank OneWorld says the delays are expected, and have been caused by negotiations around the right sort of representation from each region.

“Many countries want to have a say, and getting an agreement on representation isn’t completely straightforward, but I think we’ve made very good progress in Africa,” Petrie said.

“As the meetings get under way in April, there’s already been some discussion about the Fund,” she told IPS, “and if it gets going, it could make progress.”

“But the proof will be in the pudding,” Petrie warned. “Developing countries remain reasonably confident about progress with the establishment of the fund, but whether the developed world will agree remains to be seen.”

The modalities of the fund, as well as a balanced agreement on the relative emphasis placed on adaptation and mitigation have yet to be agreed upon, said Petrie.

The Green Climate Fund, designed to help consolidate, manage and disburse the money to help mitigate and adapt to climate change, was proposed in Copenhagen and formalised in Cancún. It is expected to manage up to 100 billion dollars a year by 2020.

Funding adaptation in Africa

Alongside this Fund, Kaberuka says Africa needs a financial instrument of its own.

The proposed mechanism, the African Green Fund, would be managed by the African Development Bank, in order to channel a proportion of the finance raised through the international instrument to the African continent.

“African countries have got specific problems, and we’ve not benefitted as much from the mechanism under the Kyoto Protocol,” Kaberuka said, “and so the issue was, can we simply have a small share of the Green Fund, which can be administered by the African Development Bank to deal with the Africa-specific issues.”

Kaberuka encouraged optimism around the outcomes of December’s next round of climate talks. “I think Copenhagen created a lot of expectations. In Cancún, the outcome was very good, but a bit underwhelming. I think we went to Cancún with low expectations, and we exceeded them,” he said.

“For us in Africa, it is becoming more urgent than ever. And I think we can reach agreement, because the issues that were separating us are not as broad as they were,” Kaberuka said.

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