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Developing countries deserve more support for their efforts to prioritise climate change in development, writes climate expert Simon Anderson.

At last year's conference of parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), countries decided that "comprehensive, iterative assessments of development needs and climate vulnerabilities" should form the basis for national climate adaptation programmes. [1]

Processes are already underway to achieve this aim. At a workshop in Tanzania last month, policymakers from Bangladesh, Eritrea, Ethiopia, the Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania and Uganda discussed progress on integrating climate change strategies into their country's development plans. [2]

For example, Kenya's Climate Change Action Plan — validated on 22 November and being presented at the current 18th session of the conference of parties (COP 18) in Doha, Qatar (26 November–7 December) — spans adaptation, finance, institutional arrangements, mitigation, technology, capacity development and knowledge management. [3]

Ethiopia's Climate-Resilient Green Economy strategy supports an array of investments, including electric power generation from renewable sources, scaling up the use of more efficient stoves, and increasing the efficiency of the livestock sector.

Similarly, Ghana and Mozambique have national climate change strategies and the Gambia is integrating climate change responses into its Program for Accelerated Growth and Employment.

The integration of cross-cutting issues into policy and planning has been called 'mainstreaming'. This matters because climate change is a special kind of policy problem — a moving and growing target.

Finance is needed to consolidate efforts to include climate change in development planning, and support from the proposed Green Climate Fund will be instrumental in achieving this goal. Discussions at COP 18 must address how to make this happen.

A new term: 'mainstreamlining'

The Tanzania workshop participants coined the term 'mainstreamlining' as a more accurate description of how to make climate change a priority effectively, without suffering the dilution and box-ticking tendencies of previous mainstreaming initiatives.

Climate change adds to the complexity of development processes. So to make the planners' jobs manageable, 'mainstreamlining' identifies the essential components and puts them in place according to the context in each country.

For these components, the Tanzania workshop delegates identified reviews of legislative, regulatory, policy, strategy, and implementation arrangements. They also agreed that it is important to have a clear division of responsibilities across ministries, departments and agencies, with good leadership and coordination.

Medium-term frameworks and sector plans can be used as vehicles for climate 'mainstreamlining', and there needs to be national criteria for prioritising climate change responses.

For managing funding, a mechanism for mobilising funds is crucial, as is centralised budgetary control; guidelines are needed for drawing up climate change response plans and budgetary allocation for both public and private sectors; and there should be mechanisms for reviewing the effectiveness of climate change expenditure.

Awaiting the Green Climate Fund

As the design of the Green Climate Fund moves toward completion and capitalisation before the end of 2013, the preparations that developing countries are making are crucial for the best use of climate finance in programmes integrated into development planning systems.

The design of the Green Climate Fund needs to resolve problems caused by the long delays in accessing funds from global support programmes, and the overheads imposed by the multilateral agencies involved.

Participants at the Tanzania workshop agreed that developing countries should have direct access to international climate finance and should establish national implementing entities to draw down the resources. This would make it easier to pool funds through a national fund, and then to target resources at nationally and locally agreed priorities.

The meeting provided plenty of evidence that developing countries are gearing up national systems to face climate change challenges. They deserve the support of the Green Climate Fund, and provide a platform for future climate change responses in developing countries.

But for mainstreamlining to really take off, government planners must overcome the barriers of a weak knowledge base about climate change and its effects, poor coordination among government ministries and meagre budgets.

The advent of the Green Climate Fund means developing countries are set to access significant finance with which to respond to climate change. The fund board has pledged that it will operate in a transparent and accountable manner and that it will channel new, adequate and predictable financial resources that are directly accessible by developing countries.

The challenge will be to do so in ways that address development needs and climate vulnerability at the same time — and that is what makes 'mainstreamlining' matter most.

Simon Anderson is head of the climate change group at the International Institute for Environment and Development. Simon can be contacted at simon.anderson@iied.org

References

 [1] UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Report of the Conference of the Parties on its seventeenth session, held in Durban from 28 November to 11 December 2011.
[2] Anderson, S. Climate change adaptation needs to be part of national development planning. (2012)
[3] Government of Kenya. Climate Change Action Plan.

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