- The “Money + rules” event served to clarify the problems of the future financing mechanism for loss and damage
- After the adoption of the negotiating text on the first day of COP, it is now important to talk about both financial resources and rules
- Facilitated access for civil society to the governance of the Fund will be an essential criterion.
The side event organized by the Italian Climate Network, in partnership with the Northeastern University (USA) and with speakers from the University College of London (GB), CMCC and Viracao and Jangada (Italy, Brazil), CAN International and Loss and Damage Youth Coalition, started right on time at 3 pm, Dubai time.
Surprisingly, in the room and then among the speakers of the event, there was the Ambassador and Special Envoy for the Climate of East Timor, Adao Soares Barbosa, member (as representative of Global South) of the Transitional Committee, who during 2023 defined the operating rules of the Fund then adopted on the first day of COP, and historical protagonist of the negotiations on the topic.
When we conceived the event, months ago, we expected to be in the most critical phase of the negotiations on the functioning of the new Loss and Damage Fund. Not even the most positive forecasts could have foreseen the scenario in which, during this event, the agreement on losses and damages would have already been adopted a week earlier. The “Money + rules” event therefore took place once the agreement had already been reached, paradoxically acquiring an even more important instrumental value to understand and contextualize in detail the issue of how to finance losses and damages under the new regime, and push towards better resolutions in the future, while the related negotiations on the Santiago Network continued in parallel.
How can we contextualize the commitments declared by the countries in the first days of COP, including Italy’s 100 million euros? How to respond to or take on board the unrest of civil society, which is questioning the effectiveness of the rules established by the Transitional Committee and their adherence to the basic values of climate justice and of common but differentiated responsibilities? Precisely to try to answer these questions we gave the floor to experts from the world of academia, negotiations and civil society.
The professor Lisa Vanhala of University College London highlighted the problems of the fund in its current form, which she has studied in depth. The first is certainly the question of the placement of the Fund, albeit for a fairly short test period of four years, under the World Bank, with a reflection on the role of the Bank itself in international policies. The second one is how the new Loss and Damage Fund is positioned within the global spectrum of climate finance. What are the necessary connections with the new quantitative finance objective to be approved by the next COP? Furthermore, what is the role of the Fund in this year’s Global stocktake? There are many questions left open by the “expert”, in a context where in any case “the influence exerted by civil society has been central” in the development of the topic and the process, and must continue to be so.
Before being able to open and understand the political question on the placement of the Fund and its governance in terms of disbursements, it is important to have a clear understanding of the patterns of the already existing climate finance mechanisms, such as the Green Climate Fund.
Istiakh Ahmed, a researcher from Northeastern University, dedicated himself to this by explaining the methodology and results of this study published in the well-known journal Nature. The study was co-authored by, among others, Saleemul Huq, the director of the International Center for Climate Change and Development and veteran of the COP negotiation processes, who passed away just a few months ago, and who had expressed his willingness to participate in the event of ICN, before being struck by health problems. The study reveals multiple problems regarding the functioning of the Green Climate Fund, and lessons to be noted in view of the operational launch of the new Fund on losses and damages. Among these, its slowness (just think that up to three years can pass from the filing of the concept note to the closure of a project), the complexity of access by non-governmental organizations and civil society (think that three-quarters of projects are led by international organizations such as UNDP and the World Bank) and the difficulty of releasing its funds (only 28% of these are in fact used in time and for the initially intended purpose). The study proposes four solutions to this problem: releasing financing quickly and easily, providing support based on need – not on bankability, broadening access in terms of both governance and eligibility, and placing low- and middle-income countries at the center of the programming.
After the technical nature of the previous speech, the researcher, activist and former Italian delegate Elisa Calliari who works in the ‘Risk Assessment and Adaptation Strategies’ division at the CMCC, the Euro-Mediterranean center for studies on climate change, took the floor. The researcher wanted to bring the attention to the connection between current science and political definitions, attempting to clarify doubts regarding the concept of vulnerability (the concept of “particularly vulnerable” and other formulations present in the COP27 decisions) by providing interesting reflections on the quantification of expected costs (both direct and indirect) associated with the implementation of COP decisions.
“We were very strong because of the support of civil society” began the Special Envoy for the Climate of East Timor, Ambassador Adao Soares Barbosa, reporting its decades of experience with all the problems and discussions, COP after COP, revolving around the topic of finance to compensate for losses and damages. Soares also touched upon the issue of the possible slowness in the disbursement of future funds, already mentioned by other speakers with respect to the experiences of existing funds and the approved negotiating texts. Finally, the expert delegate wanted to dedicate a reflection to the mismatch between needs (in financial terms) and promises of the countries, despite a generic appreciation (perhaps more of an encouragement) with respect to the donations of Italy, Germany, France and the United Arab Emirates.
Harjeet Singh, policy manager for Climate Action Network International (ICN is part of CAN Europe) commented on the Ambassador’s speech by referring to the future: “we began a new journey from this COP” – evidently referring to the decisions of the first days and the promises of the first donors. Furthermore, Singh underlined the importance and urgency, while awaiting the actual launch of the Fund, of using the tools currently available, ensuring that the needs of the most vulnerable are satisfied and the rights of the populations already affected are respected within the limits , obviously, of existing climate finance instruments, but without lowering ambition.
Samuel Okorie, representative of the Loss and Damage Youth Coalition group present at the event, mentioned the work they are doing on Loss and Damage within YOUNGO, the civil society youth group within the UNFCCC, sharing that they are currently focusing on the Santiago Network negotiation for its relevance as a technical support to the process, but also institutional and political. In conclusion of his speech, Okorie denounced the fact that the Fund was established – although a positive thing in itself – without real involvement of young people.
The short question session brought the voices of researchers and professionals from two countries. From Pakistan, a researcher questioned the panel on how indigenous peoples and communities will be included in the text; further, a technical question arrived from Puerto Rico on how the economic objective of 100 million euros for Italy was actually calculated.
The question was prompted by the closing speech of the panel of the moderator, Jacopo Bencini of the Italian Climate Network, who underlined how the Italian contribution to the Fund, of 100 million, arrived as totally unexpected, and moreover after the rejection in the Parliament’s Chamber of a text that asked the Government to commit itself to 100 million euros, in favor of a much more generic one presented by the majority.
Today’s event was organized as part of the COP28 actions of the partners of the pan-European consortium Spark! and it was broadcast live on the UNFCCC YouTube channel; this is the link: https://www.youtube.com/live/Ei-lH-w_m_o?si=2PBJKGcIml3zWKJ7
Article by Cecilia Consalvo, Italian Climate Network Delegate
Image: the speakers of today’s panel, photo by Cecilia Consalvo