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UN launches guide for developing countries to access more climate funding

By Tracy Lee (Xinhua)

10:51, September 15, 2011

UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 14 (Xinhua) -- With climate change funding gaining steam, the United Nations Development Program ( UNDP) launched on Wednesday a set of guidelines aimed at providing a resource for developing countries to better benefit from the global flow pledged for climate finance.

"It's astounding, considering how much money is on the table -- there is a real difference in what countries are collecting these funds and what countries are being able to access these funds," Cassie Flynn, author of the guidebook and UNDP climate change policy expert, said in a phone interview with Xinhua.

A tool for policymakers, economists, investors and donors, the UNDP publication "Blending Climate Finance through National Climate Funds" provides a step-by-step guidebook on setting up national climate funds, particularly for developing countries to better take advantage of globally promised money to combat climate change.

The guidebook also featured several national climate funds, which are country-tailored, focusing on priorities for that country.

According to UNDP, between 2009 and 2010, clean energy sector investments worldwide rose 30 percent to a record 243 billion U.S. dollars.

"Unfortunately not all countries have the same access to these funds," Flynn said.

Signaling the disparities, UNDP said that only ten percent of those investments in that one-year period went outside the realm of the Group of 20 nations (G20), and reached Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

The guidebook pinpoints that spots in the world susceptible to shifts in climate patterns lack access to these funds.

With more than 50 international public funds, 45 carbon markets and 6,000 private equity funds all channeling climate finance for projects that address mitigation and adaptation, the guidebook stresses that more access to financing accelerates responses to climate change.

"We are at a very important time right now with climate change; countries have pledged more money than ever before," Flynn said.

At a 2010 UN conference on climate change in Cancun, world leaders pledged 30 billion U.S. dollars in "fast start funding" for climate funds between 2010 and 2012 with the addition of up to 100 billion U.S. dollars annually by 2020.

These pledges, notes the guidebook, are matched by an " explosion" of public and private funds outside of the UN framework.

"It's not just about the amount of money, it's also about how the money is used and how easily it can be put to real actions on the ground," Flynn said.

Developing countries have faced challenges in tackling the collection of funds from hundreds of financial sources, streamlining activities funded by them, as well as accounting for results. For example, Africa accounted to less than one percent of private investments into clean energy in 2007, said the guidelines.

It recommended that countries need to usher in a new paradigm supporting low-emission, climate-resilient development, while noting that countries have to consider how to attract and leverage various types of climate change investment.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IEA) estimates 40 percent of the global additional investment needed for climate change finance in 2020 will be from private households, 40 percent from businesses and remaining 20 percent in businesses.

A key challenge for countries will be to use "scarce" public funds to attract private investment, the guidebook said.

Such success models for national climate funds in countries like Brazil, China, and Bangladesh, have been able to blend various financial sources for specific climate change activities, the guidebook said.

Drawing upon UNDP's administration of over 750 funds worldwide, and experiences in providing services for over 5 billion U.S. dollars from donors, the guidelines show that as countries consider tools like national climate funds, they become better prepared to access funds.

"We're giving governments a recipe on how to access more funding and how to improve management of climate change activities, " said Olav Kjorven, UNDP assistant administrator and director of development policy, in a statement on Wednesday.

"This guidebook can fundamentally change the way governments plan, finance and deliver on their climate policies," Kjorven said.


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