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Most Vulnerable Countries Assured of Fresh Money at Climate Conference

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By Jaya Ramachandran | IDN-InDepthNews Report

BERLIN | PARIS (IDN) - The Global Environment Facility (GEF) Chairperson Naoko Ishii has welcomed pledges made at the UN Climate Conference in Paris to inject more than 252 million U.S. dollars to help the most vulnerable countries address climate change and its adverse consequences.

In an unprecedented move, Premier Philippe Couillard of Québec, Canada's largest province by area and its second-largest administrative division, has announced a contribution of 6 million Canadian dollars to the climate fund, hosted by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) for the most vulnerable countries.

The commitment, made at the Paris COP21 climate talks, is the first-ever by a sub-national government, and brings total new financing to the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) to more than 252 million U.S. dollars.

The support for the LDCF was included in an announcement by the Québec government on December 5 of new international funding for climate cooperation.

“By contributing to the Least Developed Countries Fund, Québec, as a federated state, is setting a precedent in international climate funding. This new gesture is yet another demonstration of the essential contribution of federated states in the fight against climate change and Québec’s leadership in this area,” underscored the Premier.

Earlier, the most vulnerable countries were assured of close to 250 million U.S. dollars in new money for adaptation support. The decision was announced at the start of the UN climate talks in Paris on November 30.

Eleven donor countries – Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and the United States of America – announced their contributions to GEF’s climate fund.

Welcoming the injection of new financing, GEF CEO and Chairperson, Naoko Ishii, said: “Given that we’re already locked into climate change trajectories for many years to come, increased investment in adaptation has to be at the core of the new climate agreement.”

“We know that many billions are required over the next few years to fill the gap in climate finance, but the money pledged today is vital to help some of the most vulnerable people on the planet cope with the immediate impacts of our rapidly warming world,” Ishii continued.

“I commend all the donors for their support. This funding for adaptation is urgently needed to help sustain the hard-earned momentum for action on the ground that some of the most vulnerable countries have achieved in recent years,” Ishii added.

Demand from developing countries for financing from the LDCF remains strong. Droughts, violent storms, sea-level rise and other climate changes are already impacting the poorest and most vulnerable countries and communities.

In his speech at the conference on November 30, U.S. President Barack Obama said: "For some, particularly island nations (...), climate change is a threat to their very existence. That's why today, in concert with other nations, America confirms our strong and ongoing commitment to the Least Developed Countries Fund. And tomorrow, we'll pledge new contributions to risk insurance initiatives that help vulnerable populations rebuild stronger after climate related disasters".

Former President of Ireland and United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Climate Change, Mary Robinson said: “I have seen for myself how people from across the developing world are leading the way to climate solutions. But the scale and international nature of climate change requires an unprecedented level of international solidarity and support. So today’s announcement should be seen in that context: they are not just about dollars and cents and accounting. They are about supporting millions of people across the world.”

The new financing will enable the GEF to respond to existing requests for support ranging from investments in new approaches to agriculture to national adaptation planning and building resilience against climate change variability and disasters.

Since 2001, the GEF – through the LDCF and the Special Climate Change Fund and the Strategic Priority on Adaptation program - has provided 1.3 billion dollars in grant financing and mobilized 7 billion dollars from other sources for 320 adaptation projects in 129 countries, including all Least Developed Countries and 33 Small Island Developing States. These projects are expected to directly reduce the vulnerability of 17 million people.

A joint statement released on November 30 by Office of the Spokesperson of the U.S. Department of State said: The LDCF plays a key role in addressing urgent and immediate adaptation needs of least developed countries, focusing on reducing the vulnerability of sectors and resources that are central to human and national development, such as water, agriculture and food security; and infrastructure, as identified and prioritized in their National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPAs).

The LDCF also supports the national adaptation planning process in coordination with others as a means to reduce medium- and long-term vulnerability to the impacts of climate change and facilitate the integration of climate change adaptation into relevant policies, programs and activities, the statement added.

From the LDCF’s inception in 2001 through June 2015, 931.5 million dollar has been approved for projects, programmes, and enabling activities to meet this mandate. Projects supported by the LDCF have mobilized 3.8 billion U.S. dollar, in co-financing in 49 countries.

According to the joint statement, the following contributions to the LDCF will continue supporting priorities identified by recipient countries that are essential for climate-resilient sustainable development and livelihoods:

- Germany will contribute a total amount of 50 million Euros (approximately 53.0 million USD) to the LDCF (2015/2016).

- The United States announces a contribution totaling 51.175 million USD to the LDCF in 2015 and 2016.

- The UK will provide a further contribution of 30 million GBP (approximately 45.1 million USD) to the LDCF in 2016.

- France will provide a contribution of 25 million Euros (approximately 26.5 million USD) to the LDCF in 2016. Canada will contribute 30 million CAD (approximately 22.4 million USD) over the next two years.

- In 2016 Denmark will commit 156 million DKK (approximately 22.1 million USD) to the LDCF (subject to parliamentary approval). With this pledge, the cumulative Danish contribution to the LDCF amounts to 376 million DKK (approximately 53 million USD).

- In 2016 the Swedish government intends to provide a grant to the LDCF of SEK 100 million (approximately 11.5 million USD).

- Ireland will continue to support the LDCF and will provide, subject to budget approval, at least 6 million Euro (approximately 6.4 million USD) by 2020.

- Switzerland will increase its annual contribution to the LDCF by 75% and will provide in total CHF 6.25 million (approximately 6.0 million USD) to the LDCF from 2015 until 2018.

- Italy will provide to the LDCF, through its Ministry for the Environment, 2 million USD by the end of 2015. Italy is strongly committed to scale up its support to the fund in the following years, including in 2016, subject to budget availability and approval

- Finland has supported the LDCF since 2003, the cumulative contribution amounts to about 32 million Euros (approximately 41 million USD). This includes the contribution given this year 1.6 million Euros (approximately 1.8 million USD). [IDN-InDepthNews – 05 December 2015]

Photo: GEF Chair Naoko Ishii | Credit: GEF

2015 IDN-InDepthNews | Analysis That Matters

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