Green finance in Ireland

Delighted to see the announcement this week that a base for green finance will be established right here in Ireland! Financial Centres for Sustainability (FC4S), a global network founded by the United Nations Environment Programme, will be putting down roots in Dublin as its European base with support from a €1.5 million investment by the European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT) Climate-KIC.

The aim of FC4S Europe will be to develop a common European assessment tool to evaluate climate and sustainability credentials for financial centres, as well as pursue collaboration, raise awareness of sustainability issues and assist with the design and delivery of development plans to embed green finance within the activities financial centres, according to an article in The Irish Times.

CSR funding CSA

Stakeholders from academia, government and the private sector convened in New Delhi, India to assess Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as a way to enhance financing options to scale up and support the implementation of Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA). CCAFS organised the May 2018 conclave along with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and Borlaug Institute for South Asia (BISA) in partnership with The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) in New Delhi, India.

In reading the Climate-Smart Agriculture as an investment destination for CSR workshop proceedings, I learned that in India CSR investments have become one of the “major and most sought after moving forces to propel forward the nation’s socio-economic growth while maintaining responsibility towards the environment.” All of what came out of the workshop was fascinating and I particularly resonated with the idea of a CSR Green Fund, made up of CSR funds, or a CSR Consortia, potentially in the form of a Public-Private Partnership (PPP). I hope these creative ideas that emerged out of multi-stakeholder collaboration about how to engage the private and public sector in supporting CSA continue to grow!

Time to adapt

Through my research on climate finance I’ve learned that although the aim is to finance climate change adaptation and mitigation equally, mitigation has been the primary beneficiary of climate finance to date. However, times are changing, I hope, if the the good news reported for adaptation financing in July is any indication of a positive trend! According to the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), the Adaptation Fund (AF), the Development Bank of Latin America (CAF), the West African Development Bank (WADB) and the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) all funded climate change adaptation projects in July.

These included: 1) the AF investments in a South-South cooperation readiness support package (includes a US$100,000 grant to enhance access to climate finance) and an additional US$35 million for four new climate change adaptation projects across Latin America, West Africa and Asia; 2) the CAF’s US$2.4 million project in Ecuador to strengthen adaptive capacity of local populations in the Toachi-Pilatón watershed and another US$13.9 million in a regional investment for a project in Chile and Ecuador to reduce climate vulnerability in urban and semi-urban areas in three coastal cities; 3) the WADB’s US$14 million regional project in Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Niger and Togo to promote climate-smart agriculture, disseminate innovative and regional agricultural best practices and knowledge; and 4) a UN-Habitat In Mongolia US$4.5 million project in Ulaanbaatar to enhance climate resilience to flooding in seven vulnerable nomadic tent settlements.

More information about these climate change adaptation investments can be found here.

GCF and GEF promote complementarity and coherence

Two major climate finance funders, Green Climate Fund (GCF) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF), met this week “to consider how the two funds can best promote complementarity and coherence in their ongoing climate finance support.” I was delighted to see this progress being made, which supports my research about the importance of collaboration, both from the grantseeker perspective and also from the grantmaker perspective.

One of the big barriers for effective climate finance is the financial flows going to the beneficiaries. This was addressed in the meeting between GCF Executive Director Howard Bamsey and the GEF’s CEO and Chairperson Naoko Ishii as well as several developing country ministers. The two funders agreed  “to take joint steps to improve climate finance flows to best meet the needs of developing countries in tackling the global climate challenge.” These steps include simplifying the climate finance architecture to ensure countries receive coordinated financial inputs and the two funders may also collaborate to pilot projects, identify key co-financing opportunities, and scale up readiness support for developing countries.

More information can be found in GCF’s announcement here.

World Bank surpasses climate finance targets

The World Bank announced this week that it surpassed it targets for climate finance, with 32.1% of its financing or $20.5 billion having climate co-benefits in fiscal year 2018 vs. its target of 28% in 2020. World Bank CEO, Kristalina Georgieva, highlighted that they are seeing “major transitions to renewable energy, clean and resilient transport systems, climate-smart agriculture and sustainable cities.” The World Bank has mainstreamed climate considerations into all of its development projects.

Building resilience to climate change impacts is particularly important for the most vulnerable developing countries. Since most climate finance invested to date has been focused on climate change mitigation, I was pleased to see that the World Bank is increasing its investments in climate change adaptation with close to 49% of all its climate finance devoted to adaptation ($7.7 billion in FY18 vs. $3.9 billion in FY17 in adaptation investments in developing countries).

More information about the Word Bank’s announcement can be found here.

A friendly reminder from the UNFCCC

This week, the Asia Pacific Climate Week took place on Sentosa Island in Singapore.The need to urgently mobilise climate finance to do the work outlined in the Paris Agreement was highlighted by Patricia Espinosa, UN Climate Change Executive Secretary.

She said, “At the very minimum we must reach the USD 100-billion-dollar annual target as quickly as possible and then work to increase that funding. I urge developed nations to publicly state their plans for mobilizing international funding. We simply cannot address climate change without it. Trying to address climate change at current financing levels is like walking into a Category 5 hurricane protected only by an umbrella.”

More and more the urgency of mobilising climate finance is being discussed at the top levels of climate change forums.

Additional details about this and the topics discussed at Asia Pacific Climate Week can be found in an article entitled Urgent Call for US 100bn Target at Asia Pacific Climate Week Launch on the UNFCCC’s website here.

Challenges for the Green Climate Fund

It was a challenging week for the Green Climate Fund (GCF) at its 20th Board meeting in Songdo, South Korea, where the GCF is headquartered. There were high hopes for the meeting, which was expected to result in the approval of new projects and agreement around fund replenishment as resources have dwindled to US$2.8 billion to allocate from its initial pledges as a result  of exchange rate fluctuations since 2014 and the U.S. failing to fulfil its financial commitment to the GCF.

Instead, one of the Board Co-Chair’s was unable to attend due to political unrest in his country of Nicaragua, the Board did not approve any new projects nor discuss replenishment, and the meeting coincidentally culminated with the resignation of Howard Bamsey, who served as the GCF’s executive director since January 2017, due to pressing personal reasons.

Many in the sector are seeing this moment as an opportunity for the GCF to recreate itself, especially from a governance perspective. Let’s hope so because the countries most vulnerable to climate change impacts are depending on the activities of the GCF. The next Board meeting will be in October in Bahrain.

Climate finance supports transition to low-emission systems

Today I had the pleasure of speaking with Hayden Montgomery, Special  Representative for the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases (GRA), a CCAFS Strategic Research Partner. GRA is focused on research, development and extension of technologies and practices that help deliver ways to grow more food (and more climate-resilient food systems) without growing greenhouse gas emissions. CCAFS, GRA and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) are collaborating to identify Measurement, Reporting and Verification (MRV) systems to track and report on climate change mitigation activities in the livestock sector.

CCAFS and GRA released a report entitled Measurement, reporting and verification of livestock GHG emissions by developing countries in the UNFCCC: current practices and opportunities for improvement with support from USAid. One aspect of the research that caught my interest is that national mitigation strategies, INDCs and climate finance opportunities tend to be drivers of livestock GHG emission inventory improvement efforts. And, if Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMA) and and national MRV systems are aligned across subnational and national levels, finance and Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) accounting needs can be met.

More details about the project can be found on CCAFS website and you can follow GRA for the latest developments on their fantastic work.

Money can grow on trees

The ability of forests to combat climate change may be the most cost-effective way in the short term to close the emissions gap towards meeting the Paris Agreement’s  target of limiting global temperature rise to 2 °C and ideally to 1.5 °C. According to the UN Environment’s Emissions Gap Report 2017, current emissions reduction pledges from countries only equate to approximately half of what is required to avoid a 2˚C temperature rise, and only one third of what’s required to limit warming to 1.5˚C.

The report highlights that limiting deforestation and improving forest management are key to reducing current emissions and avoid future emissions. These practices as well as afforestation—planting new forests on lands that historically have not contained forests—provide mitigation through carbon dioxide (CO2) removal from the atmosphere and can be implemented at relatively low cost.

Canopy view from my office

The impact: the UNFCCC Lima Hub indicates that in the last six years, 6.3 gigatons of carbon dioxide emission reductions have been reported from forests in Brazil, Ecuador, Malaysia and Colombia. I’ve always enjoyed these trees outside of my office window and now have a greater appreciation for how they help the planet!

Increased impact investments in food and agriculture

Impact investments are investments made into companies, organizations, and funds with the intention to generate social and environmental impact alongside a financial return, (Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN), 2018).

GIIN’s 2018 Annual Impact Investor Survey of 229 impact investors with assets under management of $228 billion show found that 1) the market is diverse;  2) the impact investing industry is growing; 3) impact investors demonstrate a strong commitment to measuring and managing impact; 4) overwhelmingly, impact investors report performance in line with both financial and impact expectations; 5) impact investors acknowledge remaining challenges that need to be addressed within the industry.

Good news for the food and agriculture sector, which was the most popular sector among impact investors with 57% of respondents collectively allocating 6 percent of their assets to the sector. And, a compound annual growth rate of 13% over five years resulted for 82 survey respondents tracked since 2013 with strong growth in sectors including the the food and agriculture sector.