Government officials from 21 countries across the Asia-Pacific, along with development partners, met at the USAID Adapt Asia-Pacific Third Annual Forum on September 15-16, 2014 in Siem Reap, Cambodia to promote regional cooperation and knowledge exchange on Strengthening Country Systems to Access and Manage Climate Change Adaptation Finance in Asia and the Pacific. During the two-day Forum, country delegates identified specific national and regional priorities to strengthen their country systems – including the need to improve country capacities to develop stronger, more robust project proposals – to better access and manage climate change adaptation finance.
The Forum, organized in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), provided a space for delegates to engage in country-led roundtable discussions where participants exchanged on-the-ground experiences that have helped strengthen different aspects of a country system to attract, access, manage, and report on climate finance from multiple channels through multiple modalities. These experiences included: climate-sensitive policy development in Bhutan; economic appraisal of adaptation projects in Thailand; climate finance budget tracking in Nepal; monitoring of climate resilience investments in Samoa, and others.
Importantly, the Forum built upon the outcomes of the USAID Adapt Asia-Pacific Second Annual Meeting held on June 3-4, 2013 in Nadi, Fiji, which focused on exchanging climate financing best practices, better understanding climate fund access requirements and associated capacity needs, and providing an innovative marketplace for countries to present their priority climate change adaptation financing-related requirements. At that meeting, country delegates and development partners agreed that nations must continue to develop their capacities for better financial management, including raising fiduciary standards and improving accountability. In addition, they concluded that development partners should also consider the use of country systems to attract and manage climate finance alongside bilateral and multilateral options.
Acknowledging these outcomes, around 100 participants attended the USAID Adapt Asia-Pacific Third Annual Forum in Siem Reap – comprising officials from 17 Asian governments (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Lao PDR, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor Leste, and Vietnam). Four Pacific Island Countries (Cook Islands, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, and Vanuatu) also participated. Countries represented are currently assisted by USAID Adapt Asia-Pacific and UNDP with accessing climate finance from existing vertical funds, such as the Global Environment Facility (Least Developed Country Fund, Special Climate Change Fund), Adaptation Fund as well as the Governments of Australia, Germany, Japan, Flanders and Canada. Other representatives who attended included eight development partner organizations (100 Resilient Cities, ADB, GIZ, ICLEI, IFC and PIFS), representatives of vertical funds such as the Adaptation Fund and Green Climate Fund (through video conference) as well as numerous technical resource persons from USAID and UNDP.
USAID Adapt Asia-Pacific Third Annual Forum 2014
The USAID Asia-Pacific Third Annual Forum opened with a welcome reception on the evening of September 14, 2014. From September 15-16, two full days of Forum plenary, country break-out discussions, and roundtable sessions were facilitated by Dr. Robert Kay, Forum Facilitator, and a team of climate change adaptation specialists from UNDP and USAID. This arrangement allowed for open and robust discussions between speakers and all participants.
Day 1 – September 15, 2014
Session 1: Welcome and Forum Objectives
The Forum commenced with welcoming remarks from H.E. Tin Ponlok, Secretary General of the National Council for Green Growth, Ministry of Environment, Royal Government of Cambodia; Ms. Kendra Schoenholz, Director of Financial Management, USAID Cambodia; and Ms. Setsuko Yamazaki, Country Director, UNDP Cambodia. This was followed by a keynote address from Dr. Bindu N. Lohani, Vice President for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development, Asian Development Bank (via video conferencing). The opening speakers underscored the importance of climate finance as a means to catalyze climate resilient investments for sustainable development. They also highlighted the need to channel climate finance through national systems and for development partners to facilitate its mobilization.
Session 2: Linking Country Systems and Climate Finance in Asia
Following the welcoming session, Mr. Lee Baker, Chief of Party, USAID Adapt Asia-Pacific, defined country systems and their components and linked them to climate change adaptation finance, noting that strong country systems were important for good governance and for managing and accessing financing.
Mr. Gordon Johnson, Regional Practice Leader for Environment and Energy, UNDP Asia-Pacific Regional Centre, then outlined the National Adaptation Plan (NAP) as a country-driven, participatory process that allows countries to integrate climate risks and opportunities into medium- and long-term development planning and budgeting processes. He also emphasized the need to integrate climate change adaptation into existing national systems and to blend funds from multiple sources, including from the public and private sectors.
The presentations were followed by the first country break-out discussion of the day, during which government officials worked closely with UNDP and USAID country table facilitators to validate inventories of their country systems. These inventories were developed in advance by USAID Adapt Asia-Pacific and UNDP. The exercise served to map out and help country delegates understand the current state-of-play of specific country’s national systems in relation to adaptation financing.
Session 3: Preparing Country Systems for Multiple Sources of Adaptation Finance
This session highlighted the opportunities as well as the challenges experienced across the region to access adaptation finance from multiple international, domestic and alternative sources. The session was moderated by Dr. Peter King, Project Preparation and Finance Team Leader, USAID Adapt Asia-Pacific.
The speakers included: Ms. Syamsidar Thamrin, Deputy Director for Weather and Climate Change, BAPPENAS, Indonesia; Ms. Dima Reda, Operations Officer, Adaptation Fund; Mr. Andrew Salkin, Chief Operating Officer, 100 Resilient Cities; Mr. Alan Miller, Consultant - International Finance Corporation (retired); and Ms. Jillian Dyszinski, GCF Readiness Team Member, Green Climate Fund .
The discussions highlighted the perspectives of two specific types of vertical funds, as well as the experience of the Indonesia Climate Change Trust Fund (ICCTF) established to attract, facilitate and coordinate finance for climate change-related activities on mitigation and adaptation. The speakers noted the key opportunities and challenges associated with climate change adaptation finance and the need to minimize complexity, streamline procedures, and provide capacity building.
Session 4: Country Experiences Using and Strengthening Country Systems for Adaptation Finance
This session provided an overview of the range of government activities (i.e. planning, policy coordination and implementation, budgeting and financial management, procurement, and monitoring and evaluation) currently being undertaken in Asia and the Pacific to manage climate change adaptation finance, highlighting both successes and challenges.
The session was moderated by Mr. Johnson (UNDP). The speakers included: H.E. Tin Ponlok (Government of Cambodia); Mr. Scott Hook, Economic Infrastructure Adviser, Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat; and Mr. Raphael Anindito, Adaptation Policy Advisor PAKLIM, GIZ (Jakarta).
The discussions underlined the need to recognize climate change not only as an environmental issue, but, importantly, as a cross-cutting, development issue. The speakers noted the need for better collaboration and cooperation between countries, development partners, and the private sector. They also emphasized the need to build country “readiness” for accessing vertical funds as well as finance through direct budget support.
Session 5: Defining Priority Challenges for Strengthening Country Systems
Building upon the country system inventories validated in the morning, country delegates proceeded with the second break-out discussion of the day and identified concrete priority opportunities for strengthening their country systems. They include: mainstreaming climate change into sectoral plans; strengthening country level procurement processes with standards expected by global vertical funds; and employing cost-benefit analysis of climate investments in order to maximize on the overall societal benefits of alternative adaptation options.
At the end of the day, the identified priorities were compiled by the country facilitators and analyzed systematically by the USAID Adapt Asia-Pacific team to determine priorities on technical assistance for countries in the Asia and the Pacific region on strengthening country systems to access and manage climate finance.
Day 2 – September 16, 2014
Session 6: Regional Priorities for Strengthening Country Systems
Following the analysis of country priorities, the USAID Adapt Asia-Pacific Forum Facilitator recapped the outcomes of Day 1’s sessions and presented a consolidated list of priority challenges to be addressed for strengthening country systems. Representative of the most frequently cited challenges by the country delegates, the list revealed that capacity development for climate change adaptation project proposal preparation and the mainstreaming of climate change into national policy and planning were the two main priority areas raised by the country delegates.
Session 7: Experiences from Around the Region – Strengthening Country Systems to Access and Manage Climate Change Adaptation Financing
Country and development partner representatives presented a series of short introductions on experiences from around the region addressing challenges to strengthening country systems. Each experience demonstrated an effort to strengthen a specific element of a country system.
They included presentations on: Integrating Climate Change Adaptation & Disaster Risk Reduction into Existing Planning Mechanisms by Mr. Wangchuk Namgay, Deputy Chief Planning Officer, Gross National Happiness Commission, Bhutan; Building Climate Finance Readiness: Aligning The NAP Process To Development and Budget Planning by Ms. Susann Mende, Climate Change Competence Centre, Climate Finance Readiness Program, GIZ; and Economic of Climate Change Adaptation: Training of the Trainer by Dr. Chanakod Chasidpon, Policy and Plan Analyst, Office of the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB), Thailand.
The other presentations included: Strengthening Subnational Systems: Building Urban Resilience and Preparedness by Mr. Sunandan Tiwari, Deputy Director, ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability – South Asia Secretariat; Monitoring National Climate Resilience Investments in Samoa by Ms. Iloauila Merita Aumua, Senior Officer, Climate Resilience Investment Coordination Unit, Ministry of Finance, Samoa; Tracking Finance Using a Climate Budget Code by Mr. Madhukar Upadhya, Poverty Environment Initiative Advisor, National Planning Commission of Nepal; and The “Why” and “How” of Engaging the Private Sector in Adaptation by Mr. Alan Miller (International Finance Corporation, retired).
Session 8: Roundtable Session: Delving Deeper – Experiences Strengthening Country Systems
In this session country delegates chose and participated in two small group roundtables that included in-depth discussions about the experiences that were introduced in the previous session.
Some key messages that emerged from the roundtable discussions included: climate tracking as an important tool for governments to understand climate change adaptation activities and their spending; and that national government systems need to be in place to sustainably channel resources for climate resilience at the local level.
Session 9: The Way Forward
Concluding the USAID Adapt Asia-Pacific Third Annual Forum was a collective, small group reflection on the way forward where country delegates shared what they learned at the roundtable discussions as well as their immediate priorities. Key priorities and actions identified included: building country capacities to prepare better project proposals through support from external expertise; institutionalizing adaptation and improving adaptation planning at the local government level; and strengthening coordination among line ministries, national institutions, and development partners.
Mr. Baker thanked all participants, including country delegates and development partners, for sharing their rich experience at the two-day Forum and appreciated their high level of participation. In response to the priority areas for strengthening country systems to better access and manage climate finance identified by participants, Mr. Baker indicated that given USAID Adapt Asia-Pacific’s mandate to improve access to climate financing, the project looks forward to exploring country-specific initiatives and/or regional collaboration, particularly in the sphere of climate change adaptation project preparation and the integration of project and sectoral economic analysis.
In thanking the participants, Dr. Pradeep Kurukulasuriya, Head of Climate Change Adaptation, UNDP-GEF Unit, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP highlighted that “access” to climate change finance needs to go beyond focusing only on public sources. The scale of the challenge at hand will require more resources than are available for immediate programming. As such, it would be prudent for country delegates to carefully consider how to combine, sequence, and catalyze other sources of climate financing, including domestic and private sources, using available opportunities presented by international public funds.
Mr. Saengroaj Srisawaskraisorn, Team Lead for the Climate Change Adaptation Program at the USAID Regional Development Mission for Asia, echoed the need to more meaningfully engage the private sector on climate change adaptation and encouraged all participants to maintain the momentum built at the Forum and to continue the dialogue online.
Summary of Outcomes
The USAID Adapt Asia-Pacific Third Annual Forum focused on how countries in the Asia-Pacific region can strengthen their existing systems to better access and manage climate change adaptation finance. The Forum helped improve regional governments’ understanding of the available global vertical funds for adaptation and their requirements. Importantly, the Forum highlighted how country delegates can leverage other alternative sources of financing, including domestic finance and the private sector.
Through a number of inter-country exchanges and knowledge sharing activities, national priorities were identified. Country delegates had an opportunity to benefit from South-South and triangular exchanges, including development partners.
The key outcomes of the Forum and the next steps are:
- All participants agreed that building country capacities to prepare stronger, more robust project proposals was critical to helping countries access climate change adaptation finance;
- Countries should continue mainstreaming climate change adaptation into national priorities and into sectoral plans;
- Countries should strengthen systems for accessing, absorbing, and managing international climate funds;
- Countries should develop climate finance monitoring, reporting, and evaluation systems (climate finance tracking systems) at the national and subnational levels; and
- Countries should build up skills to apply cost benefit analysis of climate investments in key sectors.
In addition to strengthening coordination among line ministries, national institutions, and development partners, country delegates were encouraged to think beyond traditional sources of climate financing and learn to catalyze other sources of funding, including from the private sector. Evidence based learning was also highlighted as necessary in order to ensure that effective adaptation is pursued.
The USAID Adapt Asia-Pacific project, in partnership with UNDP, will continue to work with nations and support governments in the Asia-Pacific region – through providing technical assistance, learning opportunities, knowledge sharing, and capacity building training programs – to enhance countries’ access and management of multiple sources of climate change adaptation finance.