With growing climate uncertainties and growing financial needs for climate change adaptation and mitigation, Commonwealth member countries want to see business play a bigger role in tackling climate change.
An official side event co-hosted by the Commonwealth Secretariat and the governments of Saint Lucia, Namibia and Zambia at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) was held in Egypt this week on November 10 to address the issue.
Senior government officials, international experts and members of the business community discussed ways to “unlock” private sector finance to scale up climate action in small and other vulnerable countries.
The Commonwealth Secretary General, the Right Honorable Patricia Scotland KC, described the challenge:
“To address the impacts of climate change and achieve ambitious zero carbon emissions targets, we will need approximately US$4 trillion each year by 2030. This includes unprecedented investments for the deployment of technologies aimed at accelerating the energy transition.
“Yet climate finance flows in 2021 will reach around US$632 billion: barely a sixth of what is needed. We cannot fill this void without the private sector.
In his address, the Minister of Education, Sustainable Development, Innovation, Science, Technology and Skills Training of Saint Lucia, Hon. Shawn Edward, pointed to the devastating climate disasters that small island states regularly face – and the huge debts that governments have to rack up to fund recovery efforts. He said:
“To cope with the impacts of climate change, Small Island Developing States (SIDS) like Saint Lucia need to seek resources on an ongoing basis. Hundreds of millions of dollars in climate finance have been pledged and pledged by developed countries. These sums do not arrive. Therefore, we SIDS have to borrow to deal with our climate change problems, creating a situation where we are saddled with debt that is unsustainable.
The Minister of Green Economy and Environment of Zambia, Hon. Collins Nzovu, MP, pointed out that while vulnerable countries are only responsible for 4% of global greenhouse gas emissions, they are the most affected by climate change. Many are also being charged above average interest rates on loans, due to their ‘high risk’ classification, leading to further over-indebtedness. Hon. Nzovu added:
“At the same time, many of these countries are endowed with abundant natural resources, which represent huge investment opportunities. So we’re not just interested in concessional finance and concessional lending; we also look at the private sector. How can international companies come to our countries to work with us in public-private partnerships, where we can work with you to reduce the risks of these investments? »
The event included presentations from the Director of Eswatini Meteorological Services at the Ministry of Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Duduzile Nhlengethwa-Masina, on the work being undertaken by the Government of Eswatini’s Commonwealth Climate Finance Access Center to develop a private sector climate engagement strategy. action, as well as the executive director of the Ocean Risk and Resilience Action Alliance, Karen Sack.
This was followed by a panel discussion which highlighted the role of multinational corporations in raising climate finance, the opportunities and challenges of green investments in developing countries, as well as innovative financing solutions, such as debt-nature swaps.
Speakers such as Veronica Jakarasi from the Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund highlighted the importance of trusting businesses in Africa and investing in them to enable growth. Young entrepreneur and Commonwealth Sustainable Energy Transition (CSET) Youth Action Group coordinator, Christopher Chukwunta, called for greater engagement of young people – who make up 60% of the Commonwealth’s combined population – in mobilising, allocating and deployment of climate finance.
Other panel members included: Caribbean Climate Smart Accelerator CEO Racquel Moses; Namibia Environmental Investment Fund CEO Benedict Libanda; the Director of the Climate and Environment Finance Division of the African Development Bank, Gareth Philips; Head of Coral Reefs and Blue Economy and Building Back Blue Program at UNDP, Vineil Narayan; the head of the Independent Evaluation Unit of the Green Climate Fund, Andreas Reumann; and the Head of Oceans and Natural Resources at the Commonwealth Secretariat, Dr Nicholas Hardman-Mountford.
The session ended with a statement from the Head of Climate Change at the Commonwealth Secretariat, Unnikrishnan Nair, who shared a five-point agenda on engaging the private sector in the work of the Commonwealth Finance Access Hub (CCFAH).
CCFAH helps small and other vulnerable states raise funds for climate projects. Working directly with line ministries of member governments, CCFAH has helped secure approximately US$53 million in climate finance for at least 12 countries and trained over 2,000 government officials to develop sound funding proposals.
Visit the Commonwealth Climate Finance Access Center
- Josephine Latu-Sanft Senior Communications Officer, Communications Division, Commonwealth Secretariat
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