IEED: A 5-Point Agenda for Cancun Climate Talks

Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, addresses delegates to the Bonn, Germany, round of climate talks on Aug. 3, 2010. A new report by the International Institute for Environment and Development highlights the need for the climate talks in Cancun, Mexico, later this month to address several issues, including the amount and type of funding and definition of adaptation. Photo by: UNFCCC

With the United Nations-backed climate change conference in Cancun fast approaching, donor countries can boost developing countries’ trust in international climate negotiations by working to address key issues about the amount, type, nature and transparency of fast-start adaptation finance, according to the newly published report by a U.K.-based think thank on sustainable development.

The report, released by the International Institute for Environment and Development, notes that one of the more concrete outcomes of the climate change conference in Copenhagen in 2009 was a promise to deliver USD30 billion worth of fast-start climate funds to developing countries. But it argues that pledges for adaptation funds under the fast-start financing pledge have so far been unclear and inadequate.

Negotiations in Cancun, Mexico, should address five key issues regarding the promised adaptation finance, the report says.

Amount and type of funding

The allocation of the USD30 billion fast-start climate finance is not “balanced,” the report states. It explains that only 11 percent to 15.9 percent of the promised USD30 billion is allocated for adaptation.

The report outlines several recommendations that it says should be considered in Cancun in order to boost support for climate change adaptation measures: increasing adaptation funding pledges’ current levels fivefold, disbursing adaptation funds as grants instead of loans, and engaging the private sector while separating its contribution from public adaptation finance.

Definition of adaptation

The report also notes that there are “nearly two dozen different definitions of adaptation” used by the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, governments and development agencies. Negotiators in Cancun should agree on a “comprehensive list of adaptation activities” to better streamline funding and support, the IIED report states.

Global oversight

Another issue that the Cancun conference should address is the lack of a common oversight or accounting framework, the report says. It urges the Adaptation Fund board to create and manage such a global framework, which should assess whether donor countries are taking a balanced approach in their fast-start financing and other pledges as required under the Copenhagen Accord.

The report also calls on UNFCCC to prepare countries to agree on a standard accounting framework in Cancun.

The Adaptation Fund was established by UNFCCC to finance concrete adaptation programs and projects in developing countries that have adopted the Kyoto Protocol.

Baseline for transparent spending

The international community also needs a clear baseline against which contributions by donors as well as spending by recipients can be measured, the report notes.

“Contributors should financially support a UNFCCC-approved independent registry and provide detailed data on climate-related projects in a timely fashion,” the report suggests. “This registry should track funds all the way from contributors to expenditures, and should allow recipient governments and civil society to add information about the progress and effectiveness of all adaptation projects.”

Fair delivery of funds

A fifth issue that needs to be tackled at the Cancun conference is on ensuring the fair delivery of funds.

“Developed countries should channel adaptation finance through a fund with a governance structure that provides for majority representation by developing countries,” the report says, adding that the Adaptation Fund board should assess whether funds already being channeled through the World Bank and other agencies outside UNFCCC could be considered adaptation finance.

About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.