BY JARED KOLI
IN BONN, GERMANY
GREATER coordination is needed in the management of Climate Finance, says Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology (MECDM) Dr Melchior Mataki at the global climate change talks (COP23) in Bonn, Germany this week.
Dr Melchior was speaking as a panellist at a side event dubbed “Accessing and Managing Climate Change Finance – Experiences from the Pacific Region”.
Dr Melchior acknowledged that Solomon Islands has accessed a significant amount of funding, with majority of funding coming from multilateral sources (54 percent) and the remaining 46 percent from bilateral sources.
But, he said, “While a number of government and non-government agencies are implementing climate change and disaster related activities, they are operating in silos and greater coordination is needed. Further improvements in vertical and horizontal engagement and coordination with line ministries would augment institutional strengthening.”
Dr Melchior said direct access to global climate change funds such as the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and other international funding sources require robust PFM systems to meet necessary fiduciary standards.
“Serious reforms are still required, particularly in the pursuit for accreditation. The National Transport Fund was found to be best placed as a potential NIE to the GCF, specific to the transport sector, while the Ministry of Finance and Treasury potentially could be strengthened as a candidate for multi-sector projects.
“While there is sufficient capacity to access and manage international climate change and disaster risk financing at the national level, serious limitations exist at the sub- national or provincial level,” he said.
Dr Melchior said coordinating and capitalising on the different expertise that exist in different agencies is also challenging. An opportunity exists in capitalising on the NGO networks and presence in communities to complement government’s capacity.
While there is intent and a basis in the Government policies to develop integrated Child-centred Disaster Risk Reduction (CCDRR) programmes, Dr Melchior adds that measuring gender and social inclusion outcomes remains a weakness that could be further enhanced by supporting policy commitments towards gender equality, youth and disability in order to strengthen multi-sectoral coordination and resource allocation for implementation.
“Significant improvements to strengthen institutional arrangements and capacities to effectively manage development assistance has been made but ensuring leadership and ownership by government to drive development, and improving coordination, delegation, reporting and harmonisation by development partners remain as key areas for strengthening.”
Owing to the cross cutting nature of climate change and disaster risk reduction, Dr Melchior said a large component of climate change and disaster risk related expenditure is embedded in sector expenditures with other primary objectives, and not necessarily or predominantly within the expenditure and budget of the Ministry responsible for climate change and disaster risk reduction (MECDM).
Sharing lessons learned from the issue of climate finance, Dr Melchior highlighted that having an effective high level, multi-agency or multi-stakeholder committee or body responsible for oversight and monitoring of the national climate change and disaster risk reduction agenda with an effective secretariat to support its work is necessary.
“Planning and Finance institutions have a leading role to play in facilitating the incorporation of climate change and disaster risk issues into policy development and public investment planning at sector and local levels. Elevating the climate change and disaster risk reduction agenda and tagging it to the core mandates of central agencies such as finance and planning is therefore important.
“The level of financing accessed is significantly influenced by having strong PFM (Public Financial Management) systems and not necessarily by a country’s level of vulnerability. Ensuring a credible and robust PFM system is essential to increased access to CCDRM finance.
“Do you think this is fair to those that are most vulnerable?” he questioned in the midst of the panel discussion.
The Environment and Climate Change Permanent Secretary pointed out that a common message emerging from the recommendations of the finance assessment was that effectively addressing climate change and disaster did not require government to establish new systems and mechanisms but rather to strengthen and build upon already established systems and mechanisms.
He concluded that Climate Change and DRM finance assessment helped government and stakeholders to review how climate change and disaster risk reduction policy aims were being reflected in public expenditures and how institutions might be strengthened and adjusted to ensure that financing a response to climate change and disaster risk is being delivered in a coherent way across Government.
“The finance assessment also provided a starting point for longer term government-led stakeholder dialogue on how the Government might utilise increased financing and the support that partners can provide as part of a coordinated and integrated national response to climate change and disaster risk reduction.
“Accessing climate finance from dedicated climate financial mechanisms such as the Global Environment Facility and the Green Climate Fund has come with a lot of requirements and “red-tapes” most of which are to do with financial risk management,” he said.
To add salt to our wounds, dedicated climate finance has to be accessed via intermediaries who are not even parties to UNFCCC and the other Rio Conventions, suggested Dr Melchior.
“These arrangements have to be revisited because whilst they serve the purposes of the financial mechanisms, they undermine our capacity to address climate change in ways that are meaningful to us, and respect our sovereignty and the fact that we are a party to the UNFCCC.
“The paradox here is whilst we have to use intermediaries for dedicated sources of climate finance, our national government takes commercial loans from multilateral banks and is a recipient of direct budget support from donors – what is the difference here?” he concludes.