Windhoek — Southern Africa needs strong regional collaboration for countries in the region to improve their access to international climate change funds. Therefore, the importance of organised learning forums cannot be underestimated.
Recently, six countries from southern Africa came together to share their experience and learnings on accessing climate finance, specifically from the Green Climate Fund (GCF). These countries are, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe that converged for an inaugural forum in Namibia.
The GCF is a global fund created to support the efforts of developing countries in responding to the impacts of climate change. However, the process of accessing funding from the GCF can be a long and challenging one.
With this in mind, South-South-North - under the Southern Africa Climate Finance Partnership (SACFP) project - organised a Regional Learning Forum, to provide a platform for National Designated Authorities (NDAs), nominated entities and Accredited Entities to the GCF to network and explore shared challenges and opportunities.
Co-hosted by Namibia's Ministry of Environment and Tourism, in partnership with Namibia's Environmental Investment Fund, the event brought together over 40 delegates at the coastal town of Swakopmund. Namibia's Environmental Commissioner, Teofilus Nghitila, also acting as Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, officially opened the Learning Forum.
Nghitila stressed the need for southern African countries to prepare for, and adapt to, the impacts of climate change - and do so quickly.
"The presence of so many NDAs and Direct Access Entities is an indication that we are determined to tap the much-needed resources from the Green Climate Fund in order to rapidly increase adaptation and mitigation actions in our respective countries," he said.
Nghitila also called for the GCF to consider setting up regional hubs. "Let us also use this opportunity as region to keep on persistently urging the GCF Board to decentralise the GCF operations by establishing regional hubs. The establishment of the regional hub will enable us to interact with the Secretariat in a timely manner. Namibia has offered a strong commitment to host the African hub."
Delegates at the Learning Forum benefited from the insights of outgoing African GCF board member, Zaheer Fakir. He encouraged them to collaborate on a regional level to improve their access climate finance. "It requires partnership, not only with foreign partners, but partners within Africa itself. You have different countries with different capacities and it's about time that we start functioning as one unified Africa and supporting each other to achieve that."
It is hoped that this Learning Forum will be a springboard for southern African countries to start communicating more regularly around their climate change activities, especially their progress and challenges with accessing climate finance. A second Regional Learning Forum is expected to take place during the first half of 2019.
During the Leaning Forum, leveraging climate finance was seen as key to supporting countries in protecting Africa's development gains from the impacts of climate change.
Petrus Muteyauli from Namibia's Ministry of Environment and Tourism noted that southern Africa is well known to provide leadership in many areas, so by continuing to work together, the region can become a frontrunner in addressing climate change too.