With three months to go until the next international climate negotiations, in Marrakech, Morocco, many developing countries are working hard to live up to the promises made in the Paris Agreement to cut emissions and adapt to climate impacts. They’ll need additional finance to achieve these goals, so many national institutions are seeking funding from the Adaptation Fund and the Green Climate Fund (GCF), which will disburse climate finance from richer developed nations to resource-strapped developing countries.

The problem is that many institutions in developing countries -- ministries, national and sub-national agencies, local NGOs and national development banks -- have faced challenges in accessing and effectively deploying international climate finance. Selecting, designing, and implementing projects and programs in a way that meets the relevant standards is a time consuming process that requires a high level of coordination and technical expertise. Of the eight projects the GCF has approved for funding so far, only two have come from national entities in developing countries.   

On July 25-28, representatives of two groups from Africa, the Centre de Suivi Ecologique (CSE), a public utility association based in Senegal, and the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), the Kenyan environmental agency, got together to help each other tackle some of the challenges. The two groups are emerging as leaders in acquiring and using climate finance. In 2010, CSE was the first national institution to access international climate finance (from the Adaptation Fund) and was recently selected as one of eight institutions to receive approval for GCF funding of $7.61 million. Similarly, NEMA got approval to access funds from both the Adaptation Fund and the GCF. Implementation of nine out of 11 projects to receive Adaptation Fund finance started this year.

Three lessons emerged from their discussions:

  • Develop and maintain a strong relationship with partners executing projects on the ground. Institutions that access financing from international funds often rely on partners to actually implement funded projects. In Senegal, CSE worked with the NGO Green Senegal, an association called Dynamique Femmes of Joal and the Directorate of Environment and Classified Institutions, a national government entity. A robust legal arrangement that sets up clear roles and responsibilities is the foundation for a good relationship between these different actors. For example, CSE signed memoranda of understanding with each of its partners, outlining each institution’s responsibilities. CSE was responsible for transferring resources, approving budgets and overseeing implementation. The memoranda of understanding assigned specific sites and activities to each partner. They also required frequent reports on the use of the funds and completion of activities.

  • Create clear procedures and templates to support effective project implementation. In order to receive money from the international climate funds, entities have to ensure that projects are implemented in line with a number of fund requirements, such as international standards for financial management, gender, and environmental and social risk management. CSE and NEMA have put in place procedures for financial management, monitoring and evaluation, and overall project governance to help ensure that they meet the relevant standards. To help partners understand the requirements, they’ve also developed detailed manuals and templates.

  • Engage communities in all stages of the project cycle. Participants from NEMA and CSE acknowledged the importance of engaging with communities affected by adaptation and mitigation projects. One of NEMA’s projects, for example, aims to establish a community based information system to increase preparedness among vulnerable communities in Kenya’s Nyando River Basin, where nearly half a million people live at risk of severe floods. Community engagement allows institutions like NEMA to obtain the feedback of project beneficiaries from project design to completion. Furthermore, it helps secure sustainability after project completion, when institutions often transfer management to communities.

Many national institutions are working hard to secure the necessary resources to prevent the worst effects of climate change by limiting warming to 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F). As evidenced in the study tour, their most important asset in this struggle is learning from each other’s successes and hardships.

The three-day meeting in Senegal was part of a study tour organized by WRI as part of the Readiness Program for the GCF implemented in partnership with UNEP and UNDP with the support of BMUB.