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Revving up

by: Red Constantino

Is it possible to rev up, even if one’s not driving a combustion engine-powered vehicle? If you’re part of a team — a highly motivated crew that delights in taking on unique policy challenges, that persistently approaches problems sideways — and the team’s about to launch big things in the span of a few weeks, one after the other, revving up seems to be the sense one gets.

At the 7th meeting of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) board in Songdo, Korea – this feeling is even more acute. The place is not entirely conducive to dynamic activities, given the nature of a place set up as a free economic zone, and elsewhere, colleagues are on the ground preparing for the big push of one program to be followed by another.

The discussions in the GCF are doubtless critical — when resources are mobilized, who should it go to, and how, and how should the funding be received, through what entity, and under what modalities. These are important issues being tackled here, and while more commonalities are emerging among the country delegates, the divide of views among the board members, largely based on economic status (developed vs developing country) is still pretty significant.

But there’s always a few things that can make people smile — delegate names, for instance. In the GCF, a famous person, not necessarily for his negotiating prowess or financial expertise, is the delegate from the UK with the name James Bond. Imagine the scene everytime he has the floor to speak, where he needs to introduce himself. More recently, a new delegate has assumed the lead board post representing the US government – his name is Leo Martinez, and many Filipinos would probably get a lauch each time Martinez takes the floor. Who knows, maybe Jackie Chan might show up at some point.

For the iCSC team in Tacloban though, everyday is a shining day, since the investment of time and effort is made on the ground, where results will be more evident and immediate, in an area that really needs hope. In the next two months, colleagues will be building a unique initiative that will integrate solar power generation with electric powered public transport, services the city really needs at the moment. They will do so with a lot of goodwill and help from locals, working with local enterprises and volunteers and partners in government.1-20140211_123658

In Manila, we’re about to launch — with major partners in the government — a pioneering program called Adaptracker, which was developed as a publicly accessible tool to support the clamor for transparency and accountability regarding public finance. We 1-Adaptracker Collageanalyzed with partners climate change adaptation-tagged funding from abroad from 2009 to the present. We sliced the data horizontally, vertically, diagonally and in many other ways.From there the team  engaged closely with colleagues from national agencies such as the Bureau of Local Government Development of the DILG and key committees in both chambers of congress to discuss the implications of our work. The information was quite massive, involving hundreds of projects that received funding from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and other institutions such as the World Bank. But working with the World Resources Institute, the Overseas Development Institute and Oxfam made the effort far lighter and more productive. Before May ends we’ll be launching the tracking tool, which we hope will contribute to the government’s budget deliberation process. Most importantly, we hope it spurs greater public involvement in matters of public, climate change-related finance, which can only lead to greater, more meaningful dialogue across sectors, geographies and interests.

Are we revving up? Yes. We. Are.


Red Constantino is currently in Songdo, Korea as an advisor to the Philippine delegation to the GCF headed by GCF Board Co-Chair and Albay Gov. Jose Ma. Clemente Sarte Salceda.

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