How Bangladesh can improve access to climate funding

PHOTO: Din M Shibly

Under the Paris Agreement of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), rich countries have promised to provide, collectively, USD 100 billion every year to support the developing countries tackle climate change, both by mitigation and adaptation.

The UNFCCC also set up the Green Climate Fund (GCF) with its headquarters in Korea to handle a significant part of these funds. The GCF started with around USD 10 billion that has been allocated over the last few years and they are currently seeking a major replenishment from richer countries.

The GCF Board also made a laudable early strategic decision to allocate half the funds to mitigation and half to adaptation and to prioritise the most vulnerable and poorest developing countries for adaptation funds.

In practice, however, while allocation for mitigation projects has been relatively better, allocation for adaptation has been slow and allocation for the poorest and most vulnerable countries has been quite small.

The GCF also laid out a complicated set of procedures for countries to prepare proposals and have national-level accredited institutions to be eligible to submit proposals. This is one of the major reasons for the inability of the most vulnerable developing countries to get accreditation and submit proposals for funding.

The GCF is going to hold its major annual event with partner countries in Korea in late August and this column is the first of three columns that will shed light on the topic of how Bangladesh and other vulnerable countries can more easily access the funds meant to support adaptation actions at national and local levels.

This column will focus on the success (or a lack thereof) of Bangladesh in accessing global climate change funding from GCF, as well as other sources.

Bangladesh was able to set up its institutions for engaging with the GCF quite quickly. The main National Designated Authority (NDA) on behalf of the government was the Economic Resources Division (ERD) of the finance ministry who then selected and invited six public sector entities to apply for accreditation from the GCF. This process of accreditation proved to be quite onerous and difficult and only two entities managed to get accredited after nearly two years of back and forth with the GCF.

These two entities are the Infrastructure Development Company Limited (IDCOL), which specialises in renewable energy projects for mitigation, and the Palli Karma Sahayak Foundation (PKSF), which specialises in adaptation projects, especially for vulnerable communities. Both these agencies are now in the process of submitting project proposals for funding (but none has been approved yet).

At the same time, the government of Bangladesh applied for two projects through multilateral agencies which were already accredited by GCF. The first one was a project for building climate-resilient infrastructure by the Local Government Engineering Department (LGED) through a German development bank called KFW. The second was a project to provide fresh drinking water to pregnant women, and others, in the low-lying coastal districts already suffering from salinity in drinking water which adversely affects pregnant women. This was to be implemented by the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs (MoWCA) submitted through UNDP which is already accredited. Both these projects were finally approved by the GCF and are about to start being implemented by the concerned agencies.

Bangladesh’s success rate in accessing GCF funding has been moderate but not great. It is important that all the relevant institutions both within and outside the government get up to speed in the procedures for accessing climate change funds available through the GCF.

While it has taken a long time to set up the correct institutions and build our own capacity to follow all the complicated procedures of the GCF, we are going up the knowledge curve and need to improve our understanding and performance. This will be particularly important as we enter the next phase to enable NGOs and private sector entities to apply and get accreditation for the private sector window of the GCF which Bangladesh has yet to tap.

Finally, while developing our capacity to access more climate funding, it is also important for us to come up with good monitoring mechanisms to ensure that the money is actually used for the purpose it is meant for. Our access to potentially larger amounts will depend on spending the money we get well and effectively.

Originally this article was published on August 07, 2019 at  The Daily Star. The author Dr. Saleemul Huq is the director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) at the Independent University, Bangladesh (IUB).