The Green Climate Fund (GCF) approved US$3,2 million funding for climate readiness in Zimbabwe, according to latest data from the Fund. Of that amount, US$1 million has so far been released.
Zimbabwe had applied for a total $4,2 million (all amounts stated in US dollars) to help it prepare for future financial applications to the GCF, a special UN facility for tackling climate challenges throughout the world.
The money would also assist with adaptation planning as well as capacity building and strengthening of the National Designated Authority (NDA) -- a Green Climate Fund-accredited regulator, in this case, the Ministry of Climate.
According to the GCF website, the funds released to Zimbabwe are meant to support readiness activities that "enhance country ownership and access to GCF."
Established under the UN climate talks in 2010, the South Korea-based fund has set itself a target of raising $100 billion a year by 2020. So far, it has raised just $10,3 billion, largely due to the uncertainty over sources of finance.
The fund aims to achieve "transformational impact" by changing the way nations develop, helping them move away from carbon intensive energies such as coal, oil and gas, to cleaner options like solar.
It also targets to help developing countries in Africa and elsewhere cope with climate change.
Between 2016 and 2018, Zimbabwe made three different applications to the GCF for three different purposes.
In one of the applications titled "Building Capacity of Zimbabwe National Designated Authority to engage with the Green Climate Fund", the country states:
"The project is aimed at assessing and strengthening NDA institutional capacity, stakeholder engagement, staff training, support structure awareness . . . as well as the setting up of a GCF proposal review system."
It added: "The project is expected to also take stock of climate projects and programmes being financed in the country and define the country's engagement strategy with the Fund through a stakeholder engagement process . . . "
It might appear somewhat ludicrous that African countries applying to the GCF for funding first have to apply for money for capacity building in order to apply for more money for actual project implementation. It is not.
The Green Climate Fund has built a reputation for its oft cumbersome and frustrating application procedures. Some have started to think the stringent lending criteria is designed to limit and slow down disbursements, mostly to developing countries, as much as possible.
Critics point to the total $425 million distributed in two tranches throughout the world by September 2016, as evidence of the fund's lack of appetite to lend at the scale that is demanded by climate change, particularly for vulnerable countries in Africa.
Whatever the case -- and barring the politics of capitalisation -- the Fund remains a major and realistic funding option, as Zimbabwe looks to ease the climate damage, particularly on agriculture, the economy's lifeblood, in line with its national goals.
The country is targeting to avoid the equivalent of 17 300 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 through higher thresholds for ethanol blending, boosting solar water heating and increasing the share of hydro-power in the national energy mix, according to its plan under the Paris Treaty on climate change.
That's a 33 percent cut in greenhouse gases inside a decade. But there is a catch to it, not an unreasonable one at that. Rich countries -- the ones historically responsible for fuelling climate change -- must deliver up to $90 billion in finance cumulatively, not only for mitigation, but also adaptation and transfer of technologies.
Agriculture alone requires $35 billion to cope with climate change. In light of the large funding requirements, the Zimbabwe Government is looking to UN mechanisms such as the Green Climate Fund to play their part to help it achieve its climate and socio-economic goals.
The Ministry of Climate has since developed an "appropriate institutional framework" to facilitate the flow of climate finance into the country -- the first of which was the Ministry's accreditation as the National Designated Authority, the focal, regulatory body in all GCF dealings.
God is faithful.