Environment Featured

Zimbabwe Looks to UN Fund to Tackle Climate Change

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By Jeffrey Gogo

ZIMBABWE has begun the search for projects that could qualify for funding under the Green Climate Fund (GCF), hoping that increased funding will help the country tackle climate-changing emissions, and boost resilience to the science’s dangerous impacts.

Already, an $80 million adaptation project led by the Environment, Water and Climate Ministry “has reached an advanced stage”, in terms of paperwork, authorities say.

Established under the UN climate talks, the South Korea-based fund aims to help poor nations in the developing world cope with climate change.

The $10 billion fund targets to achieve “transformational impact” by changing the way nations develop, helping them move away from carbon intensive energies such as coal, oil and gas, to cleaner options like solar.

Last week, the Climate Ministry put out a call for project proposals that they intend to table at a key Green Climate Fund meeting in Cape Town, South Africa next month, the first such meeting with Africa.

The plans are expected to centre on poverty-ending adaptation, particularly in agriculture, and emissions reduction in energy — the two major priorities in Zimbabwe’s climate strategy. Several other components such as technology can still be covered.

“Our role as the Government is to create an enabling environment and facilitate development of such projects,” said Elisha Moyo, principal climate change researcher in the Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate, in a text message.

The Ministry is now putting the $80 million adaptation funding plan to sleep.

“It (the project) looks at agriculture infrastructure for irrigation, climate services, value chains and knowledge management to enhance communities’ resilience to effects of climate change esp on food and nutrition security,” it said in a statement.

“This may be the first of the many Green Climate Fund financed projects whose project pipeline we are working on by soliciting for information from stakeholders.”

Zimbabwe is targeting to avoid the equivalent of 17 300 Gigatonnes of carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 through higher thresholds for ethanol blending, boosting solar water heating and increasing the share of hydro-power in the national energy mix, according to an action plan submitted to the UN last September.

That’s a 33 percent cut in greenhouse gases inside a decade.

But there is a catch to it, not an unreasonable one at that. Rich countries — the ones historically responsible for fuelling climate change — must deliver up to $90 billion in finance cumulatively, not only for mitigation, but also adaptation and transfer of technologies.

Agriculture alone is asking for $35 billion to cope with climate impacts.

In light of the large funding requirements, the Zimbabwe Government is looking to UN mechanisms such as the Green Climate Fund to play their part to help it achieve its climate and socio-economic goals.

Already squeezed for cash, only a small portion of the needed funding will be met by central Government.

In the projects call, the Climate Ministry — the National Designated Entity (NDA) — says it has “been asked to prepare an indicative pipeline of projects that are being prioritised for the GCF, taking into consideration national priorities and sectors… ”

Authorities say this information “will be the focus of several discussions and sessions” at the Cape Town meeting, slated for October 24 to 26.

Concerns linger over Zimbabwe’s ability to tap into international finance on account of its high country risk profile.

For example, by June 2013, Zimbabwe had received just $6,7 million or 0,7 percent of the $964 million climate funding accessed by nine other economies in Southern Africa, due in part to the absence of a clear-cut implementation strategy.

But things are changing. Government is now more “committed to make things work”, Veronica Gundu, deputy climate change director in the Climate Ministry, told The Herald Business in a previous interview.

Being a UN member and an active participant in the global climate negotiations, “we have an equal chance just like any other member . . . a good opportunity to gain funding under the different international funding mechanisms for climate change,” she asserted, then.

Those ambitions are beginning to show. And it’s not very late that they are coming to the fore.

The GCF only approved its second payout of $257 million for nine emission-reducing projects worldwide earlier this year.

The first disbursement of $168 million was made last November, with a total $2,5 billion expected to be allocated in 2016.

Back home, the Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate has since developed an “appropriate institutional framework” to facilitate the flow of climate finance into the country — the first of which was the Ministry’s accreditation as the National Designated Entity — the focal, regulatory body in all GCF dealings.

The NDA is responsible for receiving, analysing and submitting all public and private funding proposals to the Green Climate Fund.

To do that, the country must also have accredited implementing entities that meet up with the Fund’s fiduciary standards. Accreditation is crucial to ensuring transparency, accountability, monitoring, reporting and evaluation for any money disbursed.

By end of last year, the Environmental Management Agency had been accredited an implementing entity while SIRDC was knocking on the door.

A call for implementing entities that are capable of handling between $10 million and $100 million projects-worth was due to go out by end of 2015, according to Mrs Gundu. It is not clear whether these invitations were made.

No doubt, Zimbabwe will not receive all the money that it is asking for, perhaps not even a third of it. But the sort of commitment and organisation we are starting to see at the Climate Ministry is cause for hope — that eternal feeling something good will eventually work out, from the current work.

With just $10 billion in capital, the GCF remains severely under-funded. The Fund’s board expects to receive at least $100 billion each year from industrialised nations to boost the Fund’s coffers. That’s the promise they made at Paris last year.

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