A new report by the African Development Bank, in collaboration with Vivid Economics, makes concrete proposals that will facilitate access by African countries to the Green Climate Fund.
Launched in Doha on the sidelines of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP18), the "Getting Africa Ready for the Green Climate Fund" report makes a series of recommendations for the Green Climate Fund board and African nations that will increase the likelihood that African countries, with the support of the African Development Bank, will be able to access increased flows of climate finance from this source.
"African countries are not fully prepared to effectively benefit from all the possibilities the Green Climate Fund might allow," said Anthony Nyong, AfDB's Manager in charge of Safeguards and Compliance. "This report highlights actions that will help African countries overcome those challenges, with adequate assistance from the African Development Bank."
"While the GCF might provide domestic institutions greater responsibility and accountability for flows of public climate finance raised from international sources, the existing experience of direct access demonstrates that many countries, including some in Africa, have had challenges in realizing the opportunities provided by direct access," said John Ward from Vivid Economics.
Drawing on the experience of existing funds, the report has identified a number of key steps that can be taken for African countries to maximize the possibilities offered by the GCF.
As regards the GCF Board, the report has listed 10 actions that should be triggered in order to better meet African countries' needs. Among those actions, the report recommends that capacity building resources be fast-tracked while more difficult design aspects of the GCF are reviewed.
The report also makes a very strong case to allow direct access and project applications to be processed and evaluated in a range of languages, including French. Currently, applications for the Adaptation Fund, another global climate finance mechanism of the UNFCCC, can be done only in English. "For countries where English is not the first language," the report says, "this has been criticized for putting off some countries from even applying." Some 200 million people who are most vulnerable to climate change on the continent do not have English as a main language. The GCF can learn from this.
The report also puts an important chunk of responsibility on African countries. The report strongly encourages African countries to prepare a credible, robust pipeline of funding opportunities (and related documentation) derived from national or regional green growth or climate change action plans.
It also recommends that they take early steps to prepare the infrastructure needed to access the GCF. Each country will have to establish a Designated Authority who will be the focal point for interaction with the GCF. In the case of the equivalent body for the Adaptation Fund, only around half of African countries have created such a body.
The report invites African countries to build a cross-departmental dialogue, on the opportunities provided by direct access, also engaging with civil society and the private sector and, as appropriate, link this to broader fiscal reform processes.
In order to help African countries overcome all those challenges, the report has identified six areas of action for the AfDB. "The African Development Bank can play an important role in enhancing direct access to the GCF by African countries," says the report, which sees the Green Facility for Africa advocated by the AfDB as a possible platform for action.
The report recommends that the AfDB put a strong emphasis on supporting the capacity of the national bodies, before and after accreditation. "An often missed point is that this capacity building support may be required even after accreditation of a national body," notes the report.
The report also says the AfDB should also support the development of Africa-specific climate change and/or green growth action plans. "The work that the AfDB is already doing to support green growth in some countries (e.g. Sierra Leone, Mozambique) can provide an excellent platform for the development of a pipeline of projects. This could be a core role for the Green Facility for Africa that the African Development Bank wishes to help establish," says the report.