Stepping up the fight for fair climate finance

CFAI workshop for needs-based climate finance

Climate Reality Project branches from across the globe joined forces in Singapore for a four-day workshop on climate finance tracking and campaigning. The goal? To ensure developing countries receive the resources they desperately need to combat climate change. 

Organized by The Climate Reality Project Philippines and the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC), the Climate Finance Accountability Initiative (CFAI) Inception Workshop equipped participants with the knowledge and skills to track climate finance flows and advocate for effective climate finance policies. 

The workshop tackled various aspects of climate finance, including its sources within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and international financial institutions. Participants also learned valuable data mining techniques using the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development database.

Branches of The Climate Reality Project in Africa, Canada, India and South Asia, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, and the United States of America converge in Singapore.

"Climate justice requires mobilizing finances to meet the adaptation and mitigation needs of vulnerable communities," stated Nazrin Castro, manager of Climate Reality Philippines. "Through CFAI, we aim to foster shared accountability among donors, governments, and civil society. Climate Reality branches are uniquely positioned to champion this cause.” 

Equity, fair share, and a seat at the table 

A central theme was the concept of "fair share," emphasizing that developed nations should shoulder a greater financial burden due to their historical responsibility for climate change. This includes meeting the $100 billion annual goal set in 2009. 

The need for a more powerful voice for vulnerable countries within the global financial system was another key takeaway. 

Sara Ahmed, managing director of the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF) Secretariat, discussed the importance of pushing for greater representation in institutions like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

Danica Marie Supnet discusses climate finance mechanisms under the UNFCCC.

“Climate vulnerable countries need a stronger voice in the global financial system. The reason for this is that frontline countries know better how to deal with climate-like adaptation, for example, risk management. There's a lot of innovation happening. And so much of that should be transported over to these [international finance] institutions,” said Ahmed. 

Unlocking the potential of MDBs 

The workshop explored how Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) can unlock more climate finance. 

Developing countries are buried in debt, diverting vast resources away from crucial investments like education, infrastructure, and healthcare. This "crippling burden" leaves little room for climate action. 

During the discussions, Ahmed shared three key strategies for MDBs to unlock trillions for climate action: optimizing balance sheets, implementing smarter risk management practices, and mobilizing more capital. The key to unlocking this potential lies with major shareholders like the US, Japan, China, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the European Union.

Climate-vulnerable countries have lost 20 percent of their wealth in the last two decades due to climate impacts, heavy debts, and expensive loans.

Targeted campaigns aimed at these governments are crucial to leverage MDBs' vast potential for climate finance. 

Moreover, while debt is often seen as a burden, concessional financing—offering grants and low-interest loans– was highlighted as a crucial tool for climate action in developing countries. 

Unveiling the money trail 

The workshop emphasized the power of combining data mining with local tracking and validation efforts undertaken by civil society organizations (CSOs) like Climate Reality. 

“For the long-term strategy, we suggest that we advocate for the institutionalization of tracking mechanisms. We need to work towards the development and implementation of climate finance policies and also push for legislation in transparency and accountability in all development finance,” said ICSC climate policy manager Janssen Martinez during the workshop.

Mikellena Netos presents Canada's climate finance contributions.

The road to COP29 

The workshop also provided an opportunity for participants to hone their campaigning skills. During the campaigning sessions, they crafted strategies to engage policymakers and secure increased climate finance commitments from donor countries. They also emphasized the importance of CSO involvement in national and regional climate finance mechanisms. 

With the $100 billion goal still largely unmet, participants are ready to champion the fight for increased, fair, and needs-based climate finance for vulnerable countries at COP29 in Azerbaijan. Discussions at COP29 will focus on the New Collective Quantified Goal on Climate Finance, the successor to the 2009 pledge. 

The CFAI workshop marked the beginning of a closer collaboration between Climate Reality branches and partners. Online sessions are planned to further develop a global climate finance campaign strategy.