EuropeAid funds environmental initiatives around the globe. In China, it is helping to protect mountainous and peat ecosystems. Photo by: European Commission

The European Commission has been abuzz with preparations for the much-awaited climate change summit in Copenhagen. It is sending a large delegation to the 12-day gathering, including President Jose Manuel Barroso and officials of the commission’s Directorate General for the Environment.

EuropeAid officials will also be there, although they won’t take part directly in summit negotiations. The agency, though, has been heavily involved in DG Environment’s planning for the Dec. 7-18 event.

“We are taking part in the preparation for Copenhagen, and we are supporting the Directorate General for the Environment in its external part, which we call ‘le role externe de politiques internes’ [the external role of domestic policies],” Francesca Mosca, EuropeAid’s quality of operations director, told Devex last month.

EuropeAid has committed further assistance to DG Environment should the latter require it during the summit.

“If they need experts, we can send experts,” said EuropeAid’s director general, Koos Richelle. “Brussels is only one hour away.”

EU’s climate change commitment

Richelle spoke with Devex at Europe’s biggest development event, the European Development Days, which were held Oct. 22-24 in Stockholm and focused on climate change and its impact on developing countries.

Less than a week later, on Oct. 29-30, the European Council committed the European Union and its member states to providing the bulk of 22 billion euros ($33 billion) to 25 billion euros in additional annual public finance that developing countries need to cut their emissions 15-30 percent below usual levels before 2020.

The EU also pledged “fast-start” financing to help developing countries build measures to combat climate change between 2010 and 2012. The European Commission estimated a yearly requirement of 5 billion euros to 7 billion euros for this purpose in the three years following an agreement - should it be reached - in Copenhagen.

EuropeAid and climate change

At the Danish capital, Mosca will be at hand to help DG Environment in the climate talks.

EuropeAid’s quality of operations chief said the agency is increasingly looking into climate change as an issue to be targeted in its development projects.

“We tried to integrate - and we have a practical guide for that - climate change within various development projects we have in different countries,” Mosca said. “We have just finalized this. So, yes, we are working on this, and there will be some side events in Copenhagen in which we are taking part.”

Mosca stressed that though climate change is becoming a priority for EuropeAid, the issue is not monopolizing its attention.

“What we are looking for at EuropeAid is expertise in different sectors, not only in sustainable development, though this element is really important now, and we need to integrate it also in other sector policies,” Mosca said. “That’s why we created this guide - to try and integrate the issue in other sector policies.”

EuropeAid regularly organizes climate change-related training to raise awareness among its personnel and within delegations to developing countries. It also promotes partnership opportunities in sustainable development-centered projects.

The agency is now seeking people with specific expertise in environment and sustainable development as well as in other areas that would benefit delegations in the field.

“I would say we normally look for people who can bring a certain thematic expertise, because we try to help delegations improve their project programming formulation in different thematic areas, and we cannot help them directly because we cannot give more than this,” Mosca said.

Target expert areas include macroeconomics, human rights, good governance, democracy, health, education, natural resources, energy, infrastructure, commerce and private sector development.

“We also try to help delegations in those areas, which are maybe new but still very important for our delegations. So, we are looking for experts in these fields,” she said.

Mosca said her office has a unit dealing with environment, natural resources and climate change. This division helps delegations identify and design projects focusing on these concerns. A call for projects, she added, has been issued for the 2007-2010 period.

Beyond sustainable development

According to Richelle, EuropeAid is not only focusing on sustainable development but also on other Millennium Development Goals as well as infrastructure.

“We are already contributing to sustainable development,” Richelle said. “We spend money on water management, forest preservation, including high-tech satellite surveillance. There are activities going on.”

But he said more needs to be done.

“We will see from Copenhagen if much more is available or not,” Richelle said.

Richelle believes cooperation by developing countries will be essential in the process, just as the availability of funds.

“What and how is not a problem: The problem is the money,” he said.

“And it’s not only [from] our corner. There is also the corner of the developing countries,” he added. “Are they willing to [cooperate]? This is the difficult phase of policy development.”

About the author

  • Tiziana Cauli

    Tiziana has contributed to Devex News since mid-2008, focusing mainly on Africa as well as the European donor landscape, especially those in Brussels, Rome and Barcelona. Tiziana has worked as a journalist for Reuters and the Associated Press in Johannesburg and at Reuters in Milan and Paris. She is fluent in Italian, English, French and Spanish.