Logistics Logistics Logistics! Highlighting Technology Needs Assessment for Developing Countries

As the Paris AgTNA-logo_rgbreement parties continue to meet and deliberate legal provisions, supporting organizations put in place tools that help developing countries meet their respective Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). A non-governmental organization is one of the amazing things about the Paris Agreement, COP, or climate change in general. Citizens from all over the world don’t need to wait for government action and can operate independently. NGOs can hit the ground running, enacting change, and are sometimes more effective than governments who need to navigate foreign affairs carefully. What is even more impressive about NGOs is their ability to adapt. Like any successful story, you need to fail. It was through this process that led the UN development program (UNDP) in creating the Technology Needs Assessment (TNA) tool for developing countries.

TNA streamlines the process of determining appropriate technologies to supply developing counties to combat climate change. Choosing the right technology is an important issue because it gradually builds the capacity of the developing country. Sometimes we are too quick to solve a problem and look to the most efficient solution. However, the answer may be too complicated for the developing country to maintain, once the experts have left. The TNA address this problem. The TNA is a three-step process that conducts a feasibility study and selects the appropriate environmental controls.

Step one is a holistic background study that looks to multiple sectors including gender. The first step helps prioritize available technologies that can be applied. Step two conducts a feasibility study or barrier analysis of each technology. Since developing countries circumstances are different, experts must carefully examine the technique. The third step is called the technology action plan and supports “the implementation of the pritorized technology.” The level of ambition, timelines, schedules, and education are carefully implemented and contributes to reaching the developing country’s NDC.

Moreover, the TNA tool is so effective that, successful application of the analysis enhances the opportunity to obtain funding to construct the project. So, to the organizations that help make pragmatic steps that help lay down the right tools, keep up the good work.

Green Climate Fund Approves $1B in New Projects

GCF logoOn October 21, 2018, the Green Climate Fund (GCF) Board concluded its 21st meeting by approving 19 new projects, totaling $1.038 billion. This board meeting comes right after the IPCC released the Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C (SR1.5) (which we posted on here and here) and a little over a month before COP24. As UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa told GCF Board Members at the start of their meeting, “Never has there been more need for multilateral cooperation. And never has finance played a more central role to the overall climate regime itself.”

GCF was set up by UNFCCC in 2010, as part of the Convention’s financial mechanism. When the GCF began to gather resources in 2014, developed countries, and some developing, pledged $10.3 billion. Initial mobilization lasts until 2018, while the Fund remains open for further contributions during this time from both public and private sources.

The GCF is designed to focus on climate change adaptation and mitigation, in part as a reaction to the broader mandate of the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), the original operating entity of the UNFCCC’s financial mechanism. “The Fund pays particular attention to the needs of societies that are highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, in particular Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Small Island Developing States (SIDS), and African States.” Another key point GCF makes is that “[o]ur innovation is to use public investment to stimulate private finance, unlocking the power of climate-friendly investment for low emission, climate resilient development. To achieve maximum impact, GCF seeks to catalyse funds, multiplying the effect of its initial financing by opening markets to new investments. The Fund’s investments can be in the form of grants, loans, equity or guarantees.”

Green Climate FundWhen addressing the importance of this most recent GCF Board meeting, Executive Secretary Espinosa underscored that its outcome will impact the outcome of COP24: “Success here means sending a clear and unmistakable message of trust to developing countries that they can have confidence in the process going forward.” Espinosa’s remarks were well taken as the GCF approved the 19 proposed projects. See the full list of approved projects and monetary breakdown here.

Her comments came after the preceding GCF Board meeting failed to deliver its mandate. This contentious July 2018 meeting resulted in the resignation of GCF Executive Director, Howard Bamseyand, and no new project approvals. Tensions ran high at this meeting for several reasons. The first two had a direct impact on the Fund’s bottom line: the United States decided in 2017 to halt $2 billion of its Obama administration $3 billion pledge and inflation rates reduced the present value of commitments made in 2014.  In addition, policy gaps for prioritizing the numerous applications whose requests exceed the GCF’s capitalization hampered Board Members’ ability to make the tough selection decisions. The GCF currently has $10 billion pledged out of the $100 billion promised for 2020.

The GCF has been plagued with issues and controversy for the past year. In February 2018, GCF had a green-climate-fund_WEBboard meeting that approved $1 billion in projects. Although the willingness of GCF to approve more projects is hopeful, civil society organizations and parties saw it as problematic, given that the GCF has difficulty dispersing money for projects already approved. As of December 2017, the fund has only released roughly $150 million, or less than 6% of the nearly $3 billion it had committed up to that point. The GCF reported in the February 2018 meeting that this funding is going toward the 18 projects that are under implementation. The Board had approved of 53 projects by the February meeting. So what is taking so long for the Board to disperse funding? Who is receiving this funding? And how is the GCF now reporting that there “39 projects under implementation, worth $1.6 billion in GCF resources that are being deployed as climate finance in support of developing countries’ climate ambitions under the Paris Agreement?” The jump from 18 to 39 projects under implementation in eight months seems either overambitious or over-reported. The biggest question here is how these 39 projects are receiving their funding after the turmoil of the GCF in the past eight months. To take from Espinosa’s remarks again, “The outcome of [the October Board meeting] of the GCF will impact those negotiations in Katowice.”

Looking toward COP24: The GCF submitted a report to the UNFCCC on Sept. 17, 2018, for consideration at the upcoming COP24. Table 14 included in its Annex VII lists all projects approved by the Board to receive funding from the GCF as of July 31, 2018. In this table, the GCF does not report what has been dispersed, only the GCF funding and total project value.

Lets get on the same page

Capacity Building Initiative on TransparencyThe Paris Agreement, ratified by 170 Parties, at last count, has a clear goal for the world: Hold the rise in average global temperature to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius. While the goal is clear, the solutions are complex and challenging. This is especially true for Least Developed Countries (LDCs). LDCs lack the capacity and technical expertise to tackle these problems.  The United Nations Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) recognized the disparity between developed and LDCs in article 4.9 and implemented mechanisms to assist LDCs build capacity.

One of the recent mechanisms to be implemented as a part of the Paris Agreement is the Capacity Building Initiative on Transparency (CBIT). The goal of this initiative is to “strengthen the institutional and technical capacities of developing countries to meet the enhanced transparency requirements of the Paris Agreement.” In this context, transparency is more than access to information; it also refers to accuracy and standardization. Transparency allows all Parties to measure and compare the collective progress made by each country’s pledged climate change actions.

CBIT calls for transparency on two fronts: the first is transparency of actions and the second is transparency of support:

  • Transparency of actions is completed through Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) as called for by the convention in Article 4.1(f). Simply, NDCs are a set of measures taken by a country to limit GHG emissions. But this task is a more complex process than it seems. In order to meet the requirements of the PA Article 13.5, NDCs need to be backed by scientific data that can be Measured, Reviewed, and Verified (MRV). LDCs need to develop expertise in the methodologies used for collecting data. As an example, the first NDC submitted by Papua New Guinea (PNG) presented data with “considerable uncertainty”. To address that gap, PNG received financial assistance through CBIT to hire the expertise needed to collect the data needed to MRV its pledged actions. As the NDCs are evaluated collectively, they are compared to the ultimate goal of the PA. In turn, as delegates meet annually, they can evaluate climate change actions against the goal more effectively.
  • The PA in Article 13.6 requires “transparency of support.” The PA tasked the Global Environment Facility (GEF) with administering fund distribution. In order to facilitate that, the GEF publishes a report that details the support given under the CBIT fund. In its recent report of early November, 2017, $17,389,995 in CBIT funds was distributed to fourteen countries for transparency capacity building. This report also lists funding from other sources, including almost $19 million in co-financing for these projects.

In terms of spending on climate change actions, the CBIT fund doesn’t readily draw attention. However, it is an important part of combating climate change. By providing these practical measures, in addition to the climate change policies, the COP and its entities provide more holistic solutions. CBIT can be seen as one brick in giant wall of solution options. I would like to think of it as a corner stone that supports this wall far beyond its size would indicate.

Opening the scope of NDCs: “Blue Opportunities”

thMENSJTZMIn a press briefing today, Natalya Gallo and Dr. Lisa Levin from the Scripps Institutions of Oceanography, USCD, Julio Cordano on behalf of Chile and Ronald Jumeau, Seychelles Ambassador talked about the importance of including oceans and marine ecosystems in the NDCs.

Natalya Gallo stated that out of the 161 INDC communicated by June 2015, 112 contained references to oceans, 14 included costal zones while the rest did not contain any reference to oceans and marine ecosystems. The oceans were included as part of the adaptation, mitigation or as a climate change marine risk. Also, most attention is given to ocean warming while ocean oxygen loss, ocean acidification receives little to no attention. Mangroves and coral reefs were almost always included. In terms of parties, the Annex I parties did not include oceans in their INDCs while the SIDS were leading the path in this area. The factors that influenced whether oceans were included in the parties INDC varied from percentage of population living in low lying areas to large exclusive economic zones areas and development status of the respective countries.

Julio Cordano, on behalf of Chile, emphasized that although the oceans were included in the Paris Agreement there has been no implementation endeavor. Nevertheless, we must state that the oceans are indeed included only in the preamble of the Paris Agreement, which is non-biding part of the agreement. Therefore, the inclusion of the oceans is a sign of a global awareness and symbolic victory. Mr. Cordano further believes that any future work should built upon the NDCs as a building block of the Paris Agreement. However, he acknowledges that the NDCs were a compromised formulation as first proposed and there is still a delicate discussion on what to include. The inclusion of too many sectors and perspectives may wash down on the content of the NDCs and lead to ineffective mitigation action.  Also, there is the fear that opening the discussion with respect to oceans would raise the question of whether the NDCs should include other sectors such as energy. Following last year Because the Ocean Declaration, this year, Chile plans to launch a second declaration on 14th of November.

Dr. Lisa Levin talked about the ocean research needs, as countries specifically provided in their INDCs the need for additional research in the following areas: sea level rise and coastal zone monitoring; fisheries; blue carbon; climate observation system; biodiversity research; oceanography and climate; ocean training and capacity building/academic collaboration. The research needs can be addressed by looking at the research infrastructure and the available funds in place today, such as the GEF and the Ocean Sustainability Bank.

Ronald Jumeau, Seychelles Ambassador for Climate Change and SIDS Issues, recognized that it is natural for them to include oceans in their NDCs. However, they recognize that there is a lack of research, as for example they do not have an accurate and complete overview, among others, on the impacts of climate change and the marine species in need of protection. That is why, the University of Seychelles started a research institute called the Blue Economy Research Institute to advance their knowledge and have access to accurate and complete information that can help them put forward an ambitious NDC. They also decided to be an example and lead the way by starting reviewing and upscaling their NDCs so as to achieve the 1,5°C goal.

We can only hope that at future APA meetings, the Paris Agreement will act as a spokesperson for the oceans and marine ecosystems, as currently they do not have one.

Meeting the $10 Billion Goal With A Long Way Still To Go

As reported in this blog last week, the Green Climate Fund (GCF) reached $9.95 billion of its $10 billion goal for 2014. Pledges over the weekend increased the total to $9.9 billion. Today, the Ministerial Dialogue on Climate Finance discussed how current institutions and tools are providing countries with reassurance that public finance is flowing internationally.

The Standing Committee on Finance estimated that total global climate finance ranges from $340-$650 billion per year. Of this, $40-$175 billion flows from developed countries to institutions. $35-$50 billion flows to developing countries via public institutions. The SCF projected that 47-78% of funds will be used for climate change mitigation, 11-24% for adaptation efforts, and the remaining will go to other climate change objectives.

The GCgcf_logoF noted that 74 countries have assigned a Nationally Designated Authority (NDA) or focal point designations. This will aid in climate finance efficiency and distribution of funds. Funds are becoming more easily accessible as entities seeking accreditation to receive funds from the GCF can apply online. The GCF stated that savings can be used to build a climate resilient future.

The Global Environmental Facility (GEF) reenforced the necessity for all parties to complete their intended nationally determined contributions (INDC). So far, the GEF has provided support for 18 countries’ INDCs. The GEF stressed that climate finance in both mitigation and adaptation is critical in order to have sustainable, low carbon development. Further, the public funding only makes up a small portion of the funds necessary to achieve such development.

When parties took the floor, more and more pledges rolled in for different climate finance entities. Germany pledged to contribute USD $55 million to the Adaptation Fund while Spain pledged EUR 20 million to the New York Declaration on Forests. Belgium will contribute EUR 50 million to the GCF. The Australian pledge of AUS $200 million to the GCF put the total over the $10 billion mark.

Despite achieving the goal, the Co-Chairs of the Ministerial Dialogue stated that more countries should still make pledges and become involved. This will spur more private entities to pledge so that adequate funds will be available to support global sustainable development.



Least Developed Country Fund: Meeting the Threshold Criteria of “Least Developed Country”

The Parties here in Lima have been discussing the Least Developed Country Fund (LDCF), which provides funding only to the Least Developed Countries (LDCs). Due in part to its specificity, these sessions have not garnered as much publicity as many of the others. Of course the ADP sessions, as they are the prep work for the hoped for agreement to come out of Paris next year, are main attraction here, but LDC specific interests hold a different position than other more narrow topics due to the position of the LDCs themselves. The LDCF as a specific topic within LDC issues, has an even tighter invested audience. However, for many of the LDCs, the LDCF is a contentious and important issue for debate.

In yesterday’s meeting certain parties (not only LDCs) brought up criticisms of the LDCF. These include Bangladesh’s insistence that constraints for funding under the LDCF be removed as they are demonstrations of funding countries mistrust of the LDCs; Bolivia’s comment, on behalf of the G77+China, that adaptation financing in general is in a crisis in this convention; and that the LDCF offers only a very small fraction of the necessities for LDC countries, both in terms of the dearth of money currently available as well as the narrow prescribed use of these funds. But as Bhutan stated, the LDCs need strong financial assistance in climate change adaptation. And Liberia specifically stated that the LDCF has been very useful there.

What exactly is the LDCF? The LDCF is one of the funds established under the Global Environment Facility (GEF) (the other is the GCF). The parties established the LDCF to support Least Developed Countries (LDCs) prepare and implement national adaptation programmes of action (called NAPAs in UN acronym speech).  The LDCF is still being adapted, and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) recently published recommendations for the LDCF (the recommendation was largely based on an LDC submission). This recommendation and party submissions are currently under discussion.

human asset index

But what exactly is a “Least Developed Country”? An important question as the first caveat to receiving LDCF funds is that the receiving country must be an LDC. There are 48 LDCs that form a negotiating group for the UNFCCC. Nepal, in its statement on behalf of the LDCs at the Opening Plenary on Monday, described the LDCs as “the 48 poorest and most vulnerable countries which contribute least to the problem, yet suffer the most.” The UN has formed specific criteria for what constitutes an LDC, and the LDC listing applies UN wide, not only for the UNFCCC. For inclusion in the LDC list, a country must meet the following criteria: http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/policy/cdp/ldc/ldc_criteria.shtml (1) per capita gross national income under a certain threshold (in the 2015 review this threshold will be $1,035), (2) meeting the human assets index threshold and 2014-0110-CDP(3) meeting the economic vulnerability index. Additionally, the country must be recommended by the UN Committee for Development (who reviews the LDC list every three years), then endorsed by the Economic and Social Council, and approved by the UN General Assembly. Finally, its population cannot exceed 75 million. This multi-variable criteria has been emended over time and likely will continue to adjust as parties demand. Graduation off the LDC list uses a different assessment to ensure graduation only happens if development can be sustained.

Meeting the requirement of “Least Developed Country” is only the first bare-bones step for LDCF support. After that, the process becomes more complicated, and may still be in flux. For more links on the LDCs under the UNFCCC, see the Least Developed Countries Portal page.

Adaptation and Animals

National Adaptation Plans, or NAPs, were established at the 17th conference of the parties to help enable countries to assess their vulnerabilities, assess climate change risks, and address adaptation (Decision 5/CP.17) “The agreed objective of the NAP planning process are: (a) to reduce vulnerability to the impacts of climate change, by building adaptive capacity and resilience; (b) to facilitate the integration of climate change adaptation, in a coherent manner, into relevant new and existing policies, programmes and activities, in particular development planning process and strategies, within all relevant sectors and at different levels, as appropriate.” (Decision 5/CP.17, paragraph 1)

These plans are intended to aid countries for medium and long-term planning. The plans are intended to be used by countries to advance current country plans, consolidate adaptation activities, ensure learning in planning and implementation, identify climate change risks, and create confidence in the agencies implementing these plans. There are four main elements of NAPs: (1) lay groundwork and address gaps, (2) preparatory elements, (3) implementation strategies, (4) reporting, monitoring and review. (Annex to Decision 5/CP.17)


Laying the groundwork involves initiating the NAP process by assessing overall goals of the country and what strategy the country should take. This includes stock-taking (identifying possible and probable impacts to the country from climate change and any vulnerabilities) and assessing institutional and technical capacity gaps the country may have that would inhibit their implementation of their NAP.

The preparatory stage looks at models and scenarios of possible affects climate change could have on the country. For example, the country looks at current weather patterns and observed data collected by scientists to analyze and predict what might happen in the future. This process helps to assess any vulnerabilities that the country may have and create plans locally and nationally. This is also the stage where costs and benefits are analyzed for each of the possible plans, as well as how to prioritize, how inputs of stakeholders will be incorporated, and how information about the NAPs will be communicated and disseminated. Finally, integration takes place; integrating the NAP into the ongoing development process, looking at opportunities that can be generated through the integration, and facilitating the process.

Implementation strategies prioritize climate change adaption in national planning, develop long-term NAP implementation strategies, enhances capacity for planning and implementation, and promoting coordination at the local and multilateral level. The final stage – reporting, monitoring, and review – is just that.

At a side event this afternoon, I learned Bangladesh is currently working on a NAP which looks at health security, disaster management practices, infrastructure, knowledge/management/research, and institutional impact. Bangladesh is currently experiencing storm surges, and flooding (which impacts crops and food security), out-migration, fog and hail,  and a changing ecosystem. Malawi is also seeking to implement a NAP based on their vulnerability, which includes road flooding. Some challenges Malawi faces are insufficient policy, institutional and legal framework, problems up-scaling, issues with insufficient capacity building and training programs, low skills and know-how among the general public, and low public awareness.

You may have noticed, as I did, that biodiversity and wildlife are not directly considered under NAPsMiddle_Patuxent_report_cover. While it is true that many species would probably indirectly benefit from NAPs, their survival and the maintenance of their habitats is not part of the guidelines. Wildlife organizations, such as the National Wildlife Federation, have taken it upon themselves to create plans and guidelines (like the UN for NAPs) for helping wildlife and habitat conservation. These guidelines assess wildlife and habitat vulnerabilities and provides strategies for dealing with climate change. To help protect and conserve biodiversity, NAPs should include guidelines and assessments for wildlife adaptation plans.

Why should people care about conserving biodiversity? Aren’t the people of the countries implementing NAPs more important than the animals? No. Wildlife is just as important and, in fact, countries depend on biodiversity. For most people, biodiversity provides various sources of food, clothing, shelter, and medicine.* Other benefits include the contribution of animals to the food web by the transferring energy and nutrients and the fact that many species that help with decay and regeneration of plants and forests.* These reasons make terrestrial ecosystems dependent on a high diversity of organisms for the functioning of the ecosystem to be efficient.*

It is essential that adaptation include biodiversity. All species must be considered when implementing adaptation plans for the coming effects of climate change. Animals did not create this problem, but they are being effected in the same way, or worse, than people. They deserve to be protected and considered in NAPs.

*Ruth Patirck, Biodiversity: Why Is It Important?, in Biodiversity II 15, 15-17 (Marjorie L. Reaka-Kudla, Don E. Wilson & E.O. Wilson eds., 1997).

**Much of the information gathered for this report was from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s “The National Adaptation Plan Process: A Brief Overview” put together by the LDC Expert Group, December 2012.