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[NAIROBI] The UN has launched a new initiative to help developing nations — especially in Africa — participate in carbon finance funds, such as the Clean Development Mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol.

The Nairobi Framework was announced yesterday (15 November) at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change held in Nairobi, Kenya, following urgent requests from leaders of developing nations for help to cope with the impacts of climate change that already affect their countries.

UN secretary general Kofi Annan urged rich donor nations to contribute to the fund, which he said would help developing nations promote clean energies such as wind and hydropower.

As part of the initiative, a partnership between the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) will provide rapid response services for governments seeking to account for climate change in their infrastructure projects — 'climate proofing' — and other development plans.

This will enhance the capacity of both public and private sector in sub-Saharan Africa and other countries to successfully access the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), explained Olav Kjørven, director of UNDP's Energy and Environment Group.

"It is no secret that, to date, only a few countries in sub-Saharan Africa are likely to benefit from the CDM in the coming years. Most other countries in the region are shut out for a variety of financial and technical reasons," he said.

"We aim to change this so that sub-Saharan Africa and other poor countries can have their fair share of carbon finance."

Achim Steiner, UN under-secretary general and UNEP executive director said the two agencies hope to strengthen national designating authorities, participate in local capacity building to apply CDM projects, and work with local financial institutions in funding CDM projects.

Steiner told SciDev.Net that investments in roads, railways, hospitals, fisheries and power systems are underway across sub-Saharan Africa, but few are being planned with future climatic change impacts taken into account.

"We need in-depth studies and national adaptation plans, but we also need rapid response services, so that a minister, faced with planning applications, can pick up a phone and have climate change proofing expertise on his or her door step within a matter of days," he said.

Steiner said Africa offers a lot of room for clean energy exploitation, including solar, hydropower and geothermal power, but none have been carried out due to a number of reasons, mostly bad planning and poor political leadership.

Several prospective European donors have already pledged funding to the scheme. Spain pledged US$2 million, with half going to Africa and the other half to Latin America.