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Are we ready?

Notes on the country’s growing experience in plumbing climate finance.

by: Kairos Dela Cruz

We heard and will continue to hear more and more about climate finance in the coming months with COP 21 in Paris fast approaching. And there’s no other way but to keep trying to wrap our heads around the complexities of financing the response to climate change in the coming years, maybe even decades — because climatic impacts are here to stay.

A simple explanation of what climate finance is: it refers to funds allocated for climate change-related activities, involving greenhouse gas mitigation or adaptation to warming temperatures. The logic is allocating more financing translates to creating more opportunities to mitigate and adapt. Of course, reality has a different sway. Frustrations are increasing, largely about different versions of the familiar complaint — a lack of commitment from developed countries, long considered the major source of greenhouse gas pollution and, therefore, climate change. This has been the case in the last twenty United Nations Conference of Parties (COPs).

Waiting is never a viable strategy. Technocrats from inside and outside the Philippine government are aware of this. Rather than just passively monitor the outcomes of international haggling and negotiations on finance, the Philippines passed Republic Act 10174 or the People’s Survival Fund law, the country’s first legislated national adaptation finance mechanism. Now, don’t get me wrong, we never stopped negotiating with the giants on regarding their obligation to extend their fair share of climate finance. We just approached things more holistically. And so even as we are fighting in the international arena for justice, the “call for proposals” for the PSF is finally set to be launched publicly — led by all PSF Board members.

There is a lot of opportunities to manage a convergence of our work internationally with the agenda we are handling at home. The Green Climate Fund, the new international climate fund, is expected to help mobilize and deploy one hundred billion US dollars ($100,000,000,000) by 2020.

Comparing the PSF to the GCF in terms of size is almost like comparing a petal to a bouquet. The PSF is tiny and yet, with the right governance structures and a determined coalition of partners in the government, the private sector, the academe and civil society, the PSF can actually show different ways through which global climate funding flows can be utilized, as one of the likely national pipelines for the GCF in the future.

In a GCF-readiness discussion held almost a week ago led by the World Resources Institute and the Climate Change Commission and the support of iCSC, it was underscored that the Philippines should start setting up its governance structures such as its National Implementing Entity (NIE) with a great deal of urgency. NIEs will serve as the conduit of monies from the GCF to accessing countries. The PSF can become an NIE just like most multilateral banks, national banks, and UN agencies. If that would be the case, we can ensure annual allocations for the PSF even as we sustain the direct access mechanism of the country’s adaptation fund, because once GCF money enters the PSF it will follow the same demand-driven access process.

How such an actual pipeline will look like is hard to cast in stone at the moment, this is certain. A lot more adjustments are needed to tailor processes to local government needs as a priority. But with recent developments in the People’s Survival Fund and the Green Climate Fund, I think the answer to the question will follow the same logical flow of thinking that has governed the hard working members of the PSF fund board: common sense.

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