Live from the #Paris climate conference

By Devex Editor 30 November 2015

The 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference at Le Bourget in Paris. Photo by: Arnaud Bouissou / COP21

Devex is on the ground in Paris for the 21st United Nations Conference of the Parties on climate change, or COP21. Delegates are hammering out an agreement to prevent dangerous climate change and hustling to drum up funding that can help vulnerable countries adapt to a new climate normal.

Plenty of numbers will be thrown around over the next two weeks. New initiatives will spring up to finance renewable energy, rural livelihoods and better data. We’ll help you sift through the noise and find out what policy shifts mean for global development professionals.

Follow our reporters Michael Igoe, Bill Hinchberger and Elena Pasquini on Twitter and check back often for updates on what the Paris talks mean for the future of global development cooperation and humanitarian aid, the success of which will be increasingly intertwined with the pace of climate change.

What we know so far

● The United Nations and partners launched a $5 billion initiative to expand renewable energy capacity in Africa.

● A new multimillion dollar initiative to promote clean energy investment in developing countries was announced Monday. The Global Environment Facility will provide $2 million in initial funding to help kickstart the formation of the Climate Aggregation Platform in 2016. The CAP's organizers say it could leverage over $100 million in co-financing from different partners, including from the Inter-American Development Bank.

● U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced “Climate Action 2016” summit to maintain momentum for multistakeholder climate implementation. The event will take place on May 5-6, 2016, in Washington, D.C.

● C40, Germany and Inter-American Development Bank have announced a major project to unlock up to $1 billion in green infrastructure within four years. The “C40 Cities Finance Facility” will provide skills, technical assistance and connections to funding to help cities across low- and middle-income countries accelerate ambitious emissions reductions.

● Ministers from Cameroon, Finland, France, Morocco, Senegal and Sweden, international organizations, CEOs from multinationals and civil society leaders will launch the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction to transform the sector and reduce its significant environmental footprint.

● CGIAR Consortium of International Agricultural Centers has announced a five-year proposal to mitigate future climate change through soil carbon sequestration in developing world agriculture. It forms part of the new “4 pour 1000” initiative, launched by France as part of the Lima-Paris Action Agenda, which seeks to raise the amount of carbon in soils. Worth $225 million in seven developing countries, the proposed initiative could boost yields by 20 percent while offsetting emissions by 15 percent.

● The Great Green Wall for the Sahara and Sahel Initiative has received $4 billion in pledges to step up implementation efforts. Over the next 10 years, more than 50 million hectares of land will be restored, helping sequester upwards of 250 million tons of carbon and provide sustainable alternatives for millions of young people considering migrating from Africa’s Sahel region. The initiative brings together African countries and international partners, under the leadership the African Union Commission, including the World Bank, Global Environment Facility, the U.N. Convention to Combat Desertification, the Food and Agriculture Organization, and the European Commission, among others.

● An initiative called MobiliseYourCity was launched Thursday to develop urban mobility and guide transportation policies in 100 cities and 20 developing and emerging countries. Each city engaged in the initiative is committed to achieve a 50-75 percent reduction in urban transport-related emissions by 2050. Donor partners have already pledged 5.5 million euros ($5.8 million) to support the initiative.

● A new Paris Pact on Water and Climate Change Adaptation made up of a coalition of nations, river basin organizations, business and civil society was launched in an effort to make water systems more resilient to climate impacts. The projects together represent more than $20 million in technical assistance and more than $1 billion in financing. Several related announcements were made as well:
— The Mega Cities Coalition, with 10 megacities representing a population of 85 million people, is establishing a knowledge exchange platform and launching supporting projects to improve water sustainability.
— The Business Alliance for Water and Climate Change, which already has 27 companies committed, and is working to mobilize additional participation toward a commitment to get the private sector to monitor and reduce its water use.
— A group of 12 countries have joined to create the Delta Coalition to enhance resilience in deltas.

● EU mobilizes 125 million euros ($132 million) for countries affected by El Nino.

● Eleven countries collectively pledged $248 million for the Least Developed Countries Fund, or LDCF, to support adaptation to the impacts of climate change.

● Three significant new funds for clean tech efforts announced:
— Twenty world leaders, including French President Francois Hollande and U.S. President Barack Obama, launched Mission Innovation, a commitment to double research and development investments in clean energy innovations within five years.
— Bill Gates unveiled the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, a group of 27 private investors putting money on the table to help bring new, clean energy technologies to market and help deliver clean, affordable energy to billions across the globe.
— India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the International Solar Alliance, aimed at mobilizing $1 trillion to scale up solar development worldwide and — ultimately — drive down the costs of solar power to make it affordable for end users.

● More than 150 heads of state and government convened in Paris on Monday, amid tight security following recent terrorist attacks in the city.

Updates

7:27 p.m. CET, Dec. 12

The climate agreement is adopted in Paris

“I now invite the COP to adopt the document. I see no objections,” said French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, president of the conference.

Loud, sustained applause from country delegates and negotiators follows the announcement.

Stay tuned to Devex for more on the impact of this historic agreement on the global development community in the coming week.

1:35 p.m. CET, Dec. 12

Draft climate change deal text published online

Earlier, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius announced that the overarching goal of the expected agreement would be “continuing to have a mean temperature [increase] well below 2 degrees [Celsius] — and to endeavor to limit that increase to 1.5 degrees.”

A plenary session to discuss — and possibly ratify — the proposed deal will now take place at 5:30 p.m. CET.

2:10 p.m. CET, Dec. 11

The long and winding road to adaptation finance

Is it better to rush funding for climate change adaptation out the door, or to put all the pieces in place first? Some organizations complain the funding reality isn't matching the rhetoric. Devex senior reporter Michael Igoe reports from COP21 in Paris.

7:42 p.m. CET, Dec. 10

Trade, development and climate change on the agenda at WTO Ministerial Conference
By Bill Hinchberger, Devex correspondent at COP21 in Paris

Less than a week after tomorrow’s close of the COP21 summit, the World Trade Organization kicks off its 10th Ministerial Conference in Nairobi, Kenya.

To talk about the relationships between trade, development and climate change, Devex sat down with Arancha González, executive director of the International Trade Center. The Geneva-based ITC is a joint agency of the WTO and the United Nations, charged with helping small- and medium-sized enterprises participate in international trade and cope with its effects.

“We need to help the weakest and the poorest, whether they are affected by climate change or by trade openings,” González said.

The private sector will be on the frontlines of efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change, but the biggest group of companies has almost no presence in Paris. “Business is not just big business: 98 percent of companies are micro, small- and medium-sized enterprises,” she noted.

SMEs need a clearly defined framework so that they can understand what she called new “operating constraints.”

The ITC’s role will be to disseminate information about the agreements to SMEs and help them find funding to make adjustments and thrive.

Many of the world’s small business people are small farmers. Even though agriculture contributes considerably to CO2 emissions and offers significant opportunities to reduce them, it has not played a central role in the COP process. “Agriculture has been absent from the environmental negotiations,” said González. “Yet agriculture is on the frontlines. It is important to bring it in.”

And to bring it in with funding that addresses the needs of small farmers. “These are not investments of billions or millions,” she said. “It’s in the hundreds of thousands.” In this realm, grants should trump loans, and they should be implemented through partnerships with local organizations, she added.

González also had an interesting take on the parallels between the COP and WTO processes. “They both came about as ways to address failures,” she said. “The environmental agreement is in response to a market failure, and the trade agreement is in response to a government failure.”

Two decades ago 70 percent of trade was between countries of the North, she noted. “But now one-third is South-South and one-third is North-South. So two-thirds involves the South. The economics and the emissions have shifted. The two worlds are similar.”

She also found similarities between the COP and the pre-WTO General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and shared that the institutional arrangements for climate change could end up looking like the WTO. “It is certainly moving more in that direction when you start including verification and monitoring,” she said.

5:56 p.m. CET, Dec. 10

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5:55 p.m. CET, Dec. 10

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4:01 p.m. CET, Dec. 10

Development and adaption are not the same thing
By Elena Pasquini, Devex correspondent at COP21 in Paris

Climate and development finance must work hand in hand, according to Pradeep Kurukulasuriya, head of climate change and adaptation programming at the United Nations Development Program. “There are different needs that have to be met, but they must be met together,” he said.

However, Laganda sees some risk that climate finance will pay for development assistance, instead of addressing emerging impacts of climate change.

“There is always a bit of an automatic tendency to use climate money for these many gaps that exist in terms of development,” he said, noting that some countries are using climate funds in a very “strategic way.” That’s the case of Rwanda where there is “a very systematic approach to climate finance and development aid; [and] government [looks] more explicitly [at] what type of financing to use for which type of problem or issue,” he said.

3:59 p.m. CET, Dec. 10

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10:42 a.m. CET, Dec. 10

Adaptation finance struggles with bottlenecks
By Elena Pasquini, Devex correspondent at COP21 in Paris

Funding for adaptation should be predictable, available and accessible to countries, and that is not always the case, according to Pradeep Kurukulasuriya, head of climate change and adaptation programming at the United Nations Development Program.

While many countries are already applying a significant and increasing portion of their domestic resources to adaptation and some bilateral donors, such as Japan and Australia, are showing notable activism, the amount of resources in global funds remains a matter of concern.

The Green Climate Fund is “starting up,” but now “things need to be scaled up to get money actually out the door to countries,” he said.  

Least developed countries also have a dedicated fund, under the Global Environment Facility, but it is “significantly under-resourced,” Kurukulasuriya stressed, and the new pledges “will meet the portfolio that has already developed and that has been sitting there for two years.”

The link between economic growth and mitigation “can be made much more directly,” said Gernot Laganda, lead technical specialist at the International Fund for Agricultural Development's environment and climate division. The impact of mitigation actions is easier to measure and monitor. Adaptation interventions take time and a certain degree of institutional change, while donors tend to aim at quicker results.

“That is not something where [donors] can spend a lot of money very quickly. It is a process and it takes a few years,” he said. That’s a challenge IFAD has faced in implementing the Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Program.

The bottlenecks, however, are not just the amounts of resources committed. Adaptation funders also struggle with “getting out the money into projects,” said Martin Frick, director of the climate, energy and tenure division at the Food and Agriculture Organization.

4:17 p.m. CET, Dec. 9

Global health and global warming: How COP21 can deliver

Climate change affects every social and environmental determinant of health — be it clean air, safe drinking water or access to sufficient food, write MEP's Michele Rivasi and Claude Turmes in this commentary. How can we have an impact?

4:02 p.m. CET, Dec. 9

Migration, water and the road to Paris

In order to address climate change and migration challenges, a strong outcome is needed in Paris, write SIWI Director Karin Lexen, and Anders Jägerskog, SIWI director seconded to Sida, in this guest column.

3:52 p.m. CET, Dec. 9

Health benefits are a great incentive for local action on climate change

Climate change and its causes are inextricably interlinked with health, writes Dr. Flavia Bustreo,  WHO's assistant director-general for family, women's and children's health. The good news is that while climate-harming pollutants cause death and disease, measures to remove them from the environment quickly deliver dramatic improvements to public health.

1:24 p.m. CET, Dec. 9

What you need to know about the Adaptation Fund

Adaptation finance is a hot-button issue in Paris. It's an even hotter issue for organizations in climate-affected communities that want a share of that funding as soon as possible so they can start protecting livelihoods. Devex spoke with Marcia Levaggi, manager of the Adaptation Fund board secretariat, to find out what makes a successful Adaptation Fund grantee.

1:17 p.m. CET, Dec. 9

Is this negotiating process fair to small delegations?
By Michael Igoe, Devex senior reporter in Paris

Now we’re hearing that the release of the next draft has been delayed — possibly until 3 p.m. CET.

These negotiations are extremely complex. Various working groups have broken out to discuss specific issues. I’ve heard that in some cases there are multiple layers of working groups, digging into the details of each article in the agreement.

The negotiation process itself has raised some concerns about equity and fairness. Countries with large delegations with dozens of people don’t have a lot of trouble keeping up with the demands of multiple meetings and simultaneous negotiations. Their delegates can specialize on individual issues and ensure they’re up to date on the latest developments.

But for smaller countries with only a few representatives in Paris, that’s not possible. Some of their delegations are supplemented by civil society organization staff, and many of them are aided by organizations like the United Nations Development Program. But still, small countries face a logistical disadvantage in ensuring their voices are heard loudly and clearly in these talks.

12 p.m. CET, Dec. 9

Countdown to the next Paris agreement draft
By Michael Igoe, senior reporter for Devex in Paris

Negotiators are expected to release a new draft of the Paris agreement text in an hour, and some observers of the talks are worried about what it might include — or not include.

At this point the challenge is either to agree on language put forward by one or another constituency, or to arrive at a “bridging” solution that all parties find acceptable enough to agree on.

There are several key issues still to be worked out.

Developing countries want to see clear adaptation financing goals laid out in the agreement. Half of all climate finance is supposed to go toward adaptation eventually. Developing countries that are vulnerable to climate change want to see a clear target laid out to ratchet up the percentage of funds going to adaptation and provide a pathway to reaching that 50 percent target.

These same countries want to see greater financing ambition overall. In 2009 parties agreed to the $100 billion per year financing target by 2020. Now the G-77 group of developing countries (plus China) is pushing for specific financing targets that would establish a financing “floor” of $100 billion in 2020 and then increase thereafter — by establishing a 2025 target, for example.

One of the big questions is whether the next draft will outline a process to review the commitments that countries made before Paris through their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions — the bottom up climate commitments that spell out what each country plans to do.

Many would like to see a “stock-taking” happen sometime before 2020, so that countries could collectively review their progress and then incorporate that review into a subsequent climate summit and revised commitments. Analysts point to a gap between what the INDCs propose and the amount of mitigation and adaptation that is required to avoid dangerous warming. Failing to review progress relatively soon and make adjustments, they say, will lock the world into a dangerous warming trajectory at odds with the Paris commitments.

These are just a couple of the key sticking points. Negotiators are also grappling with language around loss and damage, as well as how human rights should appear in the text - as an operational obligation, or in the preamble. We’ll revisit these issues when the new draft appears.

Weigh in with our Twitter poll. Your answer not an option? Tweet it to us @Devex.

9 p.m. CET, Dec. 8

The only way of knowing more is investing more
By Michael Igoe, Devex senior reporter at COP21 in Paris

The climate finance initiatives that have been set up in recent years — the Green Climate Fund, in particular — are under a lot of pressure to get money out the door to adaptation projects. On the sidelines of these talks I’ve heard a few people express concern that the pressure to spend could outpace knowledge of what a good climate change project looks like.

I asked Magdy Martinez-Soliman, the UNDP's assistant administrator and director of the bureau for policy and programme support, whether adaptation finance enthusiasts might be putting the funding cart ahead of the implementation horse. Do we know enough about implementing climate change adaptation to ensure the money is spent wisely on effective programs?

“We certainly know more than what we finance,” Martinez-Soliman said. “Would we know $50 billion worth of adaptation projects per year? Probably not in 2020. But, the only way of knowing more is investing more. It’s a virtuous circle,” he added.

The UNDP official cautioned that climate change adaptation investments may still be risky, but he also urged that it is the role of public funding to take on some of that early risk.

“At the current rates of investment, we are self-prophesying that we don’t know enough, because we’re simply not investing enough in proofing our theories. There’s not enough critical mass of finance to find out whether you could scale, whether you could replicate in more places. And right now, we actually continue piloting adaptation. That’s the reality of it,” Martinez-Soliman said.

4:14 p.m. CET, Dec. 8

Calling for all data
By Bill Hinchberger, Devex correspondent at COP21 in Paris

“We cannot attain the Sustainable Development Goals and achieve our climate change objectives without developing a better data system,” stated Nicolas de Cordes, vice president of marketing anticipation at Orange, the French telecommunications giant. “It is essential to come up with a way to take better and faster decisions.”

Astride the hubbub of the treaty negotiations, data wonks from business, civil society, governments and international organizations have been meeting in side events at the Le Bourget convention center and the Paris headquarters of the French Development Agency (AFD).

Big Data is the catch-all term used to describe large data sets and the increasingly sophisticated ways they can be analyzed. Pioneered by the private sector, the concept is catching on with development professionals.

But where there’s Big Data, there’s also a Big Problem. “How it works now, data is produced by people, processed by machines and held by private interests,” said Robert Kirkpatrick, director of Global Pulse, the U.N.’s data initiative.

While some data is in the public domain, there isn’t enough. To get the volume needed for hardcore crunching, development and humanitarian professionals must rely in large part on the goodwill of private companies.

Enter the concept of “data philanthropy.”

Many firms are beginning to make selected data openly available, but it isn’t happening fast enough for Cordes.

He threw down the gauntlet to his peers during the Caring for Climate Business Forum held today and yesterday at Le Bourget. “I want to make a call to the companies in this room,” he said. “There are safe ways to share data without compromising company secrets or violating the privacy of customers.”

5:34 p.m. CET, Dec. 7

US special envoy lays out competing climate agreement visions
By Michael Igoe, Devex senior reporter at COP21 in Paris

U.S. Special Envoy Todd Stern briefs reporters on the climate negotiations in Paris. Photo by: Michael Igoe

U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern briefed reporters Monday on progress in the COP21 climate talks. Stern outlined — from a U.S. perspective — some of the biggest remaining questions to be settled as ministers race toward a weekend deadline to finalize the Paris climate change agreement.

“Differentiation” between developed and developing countries — and therefore between climate donors and recipients — remains a recurrent point of contention, and Stern laid out what appear to be the two competing “visions” for how to move forward. The first vision, championed mostly by the G-77 group of developing countries, maintains a “stark bifurcation” between developed and developing countries, “with expectations of who does what set permanently … on the basis of the 1992 division of countries into two categories,” Stern said. “This division would stay fixed and immutable irrespective of how advanced or wealthy or large emitters countries became,” he added.

Stern described the second vision as “more nuanced and flexible.” It would rely on countries’ own determinations of what they are capable of committing, both in terms of emissions reductions and in terms of climate finance. This vision is “embodied” in the “intended nationally determined contributions,” Stern said, referring to the plans released ahead of COP21, which detail countries’ individual plans to curb emissions and adapt to climate change. He said this position would not mean developed countries will backtrack on their own contributions, but would instead allow for the total pool of climate finance available to grow over time as more countries see fit to contribute.

“We … see the expansion of the donor base going forward on a voluntary basis,” Stern said. “There’s different language right now … Other people are very unhappy with that language. We are open to various formulations, but something that captures the importance of an expanded donor base is going to be important as well.”

Stern also addressed questions about transparency, and he said that the United States will continue to support and contribute robust financing based on criteria established in 2009 in Copenhagen. Stern said the current document — with only one or two lines included about transparency requirements for developing countries — does not go far enough in describing how developing countries will measure their emissions and track progress toward their goals.

2:55 p.m. CET, Dec. 7

Civil society laments 'disastrous' first week of #COP21 negotiations
By Michael Igoe, Devex senior reporter at COP21 in Paris

Civil society groups protested the COP21 agreement's lack of "ambition and fairness," and derided negotiators for back room deals with corporate interests. Photo by: Michael Igoe

Not everyone agrees the world should celebrate the achievement last week of a draft negotiating text. Civil society groups Monday staged a small demonstration within the COP21 groups, protesting the negotiators' willingness to bow to closed-door corporate demands and trim equity and human rights considerations from the document. I spoke with Maruska Mileta, from Young Friends of the Earth Europe, who stated that position in no uncertain terms.

"From the beginning it was obvious what the hidden agenda of the rich countries is. They want to, not just dilute [but] basically remove the key principles of the convention, mainly historical responsibility. They don’t want to do their fair share when it comes not just to emissions cuts but also adaptation finance, loss and damage," Mileta said, calling the first week of the negotiations "disastrous."

She added that civil society groups will not accept a deal that "sacrifices ambition and fairness" simply in order to broker some kind of agreement, and she expressed concern that adaptation is being left off the table. “There’s currently no mechanism how this will be monitored, and we have now a bottom up approach — voluntary pledges. We don’t have UN supervising or any kind of mechanism for implementation of the pledges,” Mileta added.

A small crowd gathered to watch the group's demonstration, which pantomimed a conversation between negotiators and their corporate overseers, and which portrayed delegates "trimming" equity considerations from the text of the agreement with a pair of oversized scissors.

2:30 p.m. CET, Dec. 7

A woman in a grass-coated car in Paris. #COP21 climate awareness has sprung up around Paris as ministers arrive to turn a draft negotiating document into a robust climate change agreement. Photo by: Michael Igoe

1:58 p.m. CET, Dec. 7

COP21: Working toward a deal for the poorest and most vulnerable

As world leaders and climate change experts hammer out a deal in Paris that could significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, Oxfam International's Executive Director Winnie Byanyima shares with Devex what she wants to see emerge from the negotiations.

3 p.m. CET, Dec. 5

Big questions still open as negotiations move to phase 2
By Michael Igoe, Devex senior reporter at COP21 in Paris

Negotiators have approved a draft negotiating text, which is what ministers will use next week as the COP21 negotiations move into their second phase. These “high-level negotiations” have until the close of the conference to find a way to move from a draft text that lays out various options supported by various constituencies to a final text that resolves those differences.

Among the most difficult questions remaining (at least from a development perspective) are: First, should the line between developed and developing nations that was drawn in 1992 be redrawn, in order to compel a larger number of countries to adopt carbon emissions targets and commit more climate finance?

Second, should there be a long-term goal for adaptation, and what would that look like? Long-term emissions targets, while politically difficult to secure, are relatively straightforward in terms of their ambitions — zero net emissions by a certain year in the future, or something similar. A long-term adaptation goal, on the other hand, is more difficult to conceptualize. What would an ambitious target for long-term adaptation look like? How would it measured?

These are some of the questions still open for debate as the negotiations transition into a long and arduous final stretch.

A few reactions from observers:

“It’s going to be quite a sprint for ministers to secure a strong deal by Friday. The French COP presidency now has the responsibility to take us to the finish line. The draft negotiating text, while more clear in terms of options, still reflects most of the divergences amongst countries. This will require immense skill on the part of the French Presidency and absolute cooperation between governments to mediate these differences,” wrote Tasneem Essop, head of World Wide Fund for Nature’s delegation to the U.N. climate talks in Paris.

“We’re hoping that in the rush to the end, Ministers do not trade ambition for expediency, and remain true to the science,” Essop added.

And from Jennifer Morgan, global director of the climate program at World Resources Institute:

“Negotiators have agreed on a new draft agreement which has clearer options and indicates more common ground. Though there is plenty of hard work ahead, the table is now set for ministers to get this done.”

4:44 pm CET, Dec. 4

The future of climate adaptation finance is being written now
By Michael Igoe, Devex senior reporter at COP21 in Paris

Hans Ibrekk, Adaptation Fund board chair, speaks about the fund's record-breaking number of proposals. Photo by: Michael Igoe

The Adaptation Fund is a model for small-scale climate change adaptation financing. It's also running out of money.

The fund saw a record number of proposals last year, with many more in its pipeline. However, it has an $80 million shortfall in its $160 million fundraising target, and without additional voluntary commitments from donors, risks problems with its liquidity.

Many organizations have sought accreditation with the fund as a preliminary step to accessing the Green Climate Fund's larger pools of cash.

Today, I spoke with Marcia Levaggi, manager of the Adaptation Fund, about its future prospects, current challenges and unique demands for grantees.

The climate change adaptation financing picture is still just coming together, with leaders from both the Adaptation Fund and the Green Climate Fund describing themselves as “learning institutions.”

Look forward to more coverage from Devex about what exactly it is that they're learning — and what you need to know to get into the adaptation game.

2:48 pm CET, Dec. 4

Mitigation is 'essential'
By Michael Igoe, Devex senior reporter at COP21 in Paris

I asked renowned climate scientist James Hansen if he worries that discussions of climate change adaptation might detract from attention to the importance of cutting carbon emissions. Hansen answered, “I used to worry about that, and we do need to keep emphasizing that the essential thing is mitigation, because otherwise the changes will be so large you can’t adapt to them successfully. We have to make that point, but at the same time we have to deal with those changes that are occurring.”

11:05 am CET, Dec. 4

Moving beyond our siloed financial system

While they may make for a tidy ledger, fragmented financing structures don’t work. Scientific data and experience consistently tell us that social, economic, and ecological systems are interconnected, write  EcoAgriculture Partners' Seth Shames, Krista Heiner and Aiden Irish in this guest commentary.

10 a.m. CET, Dec. 4

New lexicon for private-sector finance
By Bill Hinchberger, Devex correspondent at COP21 in Paris

The title of the side event was straightforward: “Scaling up private sector financing for adaptation-related projects.” But many of the panelists’ observations probably seemed counter-intuitive at first to some in the audience.

“Investment is not about money. Investment is about information,” said Martin Hiller, director general of REEEP, a nonprofit that invests in clean energy markets in developing countries. “You are not going to invest in something that you don’t know about.”

One panelist took issue with one of the keywords in the session title.

“We should be talking about money, not about financing,” said Edward Cameron, managing director for Partnership Development and Research with Business for Social Responsibility. The kicker here is that money can come in many forms, in varied volumes, and that financing is just one subset.

The term “adaptation” was also put under the microscope.

“How do you know if you are talking about an adaptation project, or just a good development project? And does it matter?” asked Dominique Charron, acting director for agriculture and the environment at the International Development Research Center.

Much of the disconnect seemed rooted in the different worldviews of the public, private and global development sectors — and the different vocabularies they use to describe the same phenomena.

“Businesses understand risk better than they understand vulnerability,” said Cameron, contrasting a business term with one generally preferred by the development community.

And from different time frames.

“Companies report quarterly, and the average CEO holds the job for six years,” added Cameron. “It’s hard to talk to them about things that are going to happen in 20 years.”

Where there’s disconnect, there’s room for a middle man.

“We work as a broker to push money to projects and projects to money,” said Peter Storey, global coordinator of the Climate Technology Initiative. “There are plenty of both, but when they get together they don’t always get along.” Later he added, “The money is there. It is not an issue. But moving the money is not an easy task.”

If the public side of public-private partnerships is serious about attracting serious private money, Cameron said policymakers need to rethink their approach.

“This is going to sound trite, but they need to go beyond, ‘Good grief, we don’t have enough money, so let’s call in the business people.’ That’s no way to leverage. That’s no way to get business involved.”

9:51 am CET, Dec. 4

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7:40 pm CET, Dec. 3

How to transform climate change from crisis to opportunity

To help smallholder farmers break the cycle of poverty, climate-smart agriculture can be integrated with inclusive market systems to build competitive industries. Three leading figures from Chemonics' agriculture and food security practice give Devex the inside track in this guest column.

6:45 p.m. CET, Dec. 3

COP21 is a 'starting point'
By Elena Pasquini, Devex correspondent at COP21 in Paris

For the Food and Agriculture Organization, the COP21 is considered a “starting point.”

In conversation with Devex today, Martin Frick, director of the Food and Agriculture Organization's climate, energy and tenure division, shared what's ahead for the Rome-based agency.

Although much work is still to be done to secure a robust agreement at COP21, soon enough the attention will turn from Paris to Marrakesh, which plays host to the next climate conference in 2016. In Morocco, Frick shared, the focus is expected to be squarely on agriculture.

For now, the main task for FAO is “working on with members states on their [intended nationally determined contributions],” providing them the tools for building national adaptation and mitigation strategies and providing support in setting up the monitoring mechanisms. The FAO is currently training its staff in the country offices to achieve that goal, Frick shared.

And the key challenges?

“Every good political decision needs a strong evidence-base and, in particular, poor countries do not have that,” Frick said. “At the FAO, we have it: We get big statistical data, the inventories of greenhouse gas emissions, we can [tell] countries precisely where the problems lie, but also where opportunities lie and where investments should be going.”

The FAO also aims at offering countries its knowledge of “interdependencies,” for example, what crop is best suited for a particular area, and what a changing rainfall pattern means in practice for farming.

“The challenge is to get into the conversation with the people who do the national planning, to get those agricultural aspects strongly into those plans,” he said.

5:30 p.m. CET, Dec. 3

Are COP21 negotiators forgetting about women?
By Michael Igoe, Devex senior reporter at COP21 in Paris

There is some concern that gender considerations are falling off the radar in these negotiations in what some are calling a “dilution” of commitments, since the Sustainable Development Goals explicitly included gender-sensitive targets.

Rupa Mukerji of HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation told me that the most recent negotiating draft pays less attention to gender and climate change, not because of some intentional effort to exclude it, but because negotiators seem to be “forgetting something that we agreed just in September” at the adoption of the United Nations global goals.

Mukerji reported that at a Thursday side event sponsored by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the Swiss government, three women ministers committed to reminding their environment ministry colleagues that gender issues should not “fall off” the Paris agreement negotiations. While gender considerations have been part of discussions around agriculture and water and sanitation, Mukerji added they have been mostly absent from discussions of technology transfer and infrastructure, despite the fact that these services carry different implications for women and men that should be taken into account when they are planned.

This oversight reflects a “stereotyped” conception of where the gender conversation belongs, Mukerji told me.

3:17 p.m. CET, Dec. 3

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3:15 p.m. CET, Dec. 3

A small bank with a big vision
By Michael Igoe, Devex senior reporter at COP21 in Paris

I trekked out to the Hyatt Regency Hotel today and spoke at length with Warren Smith.

Smith is the newly re-elected president of the Caribbean Development Bank, and he took time out to catch up with Devex before catching his plane back to Barbados. He shared his vision for building a more climate-resilient Caribbean region, where energy access, disaster preparedness, and agricultural productivity are already very real climate challenges.

Like many others, the CDB is working to position itself within a quickly evolving climate financing landscape, and Smith dug deep into the challenges and opportunities of the task at hand. The CDB is thinking big — regional energy integration for the Caribbean, more work in Haiti, Green Climate Fund partnerships.

Much more from this conversation to come, so stay tuned.

12:48 p.m. CET, Dec. 3

The connections between land rights and climate are clear, but will these be reflected in the COP21 climate agreement? Ahead of the Paris event, Devex spoke with Peter Veit, director of the Land and Resource Rights Initiative at the World Resources Institute, to learn what land rights experts hope to achieve in Paris.

12:16 p.m. CET, Dec. 3

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12:05 pm CET, Dec. 3

Innovative PPPs build farmers' resilience to climate change

Climate change is hitting smallholder farmers the hardest and food security needs to be better supported through partnerships, writes David Croft, global sustainable development director at Diageo, in this guest column.

11:30 a.m. CET, Dec. 3

Negotiating text changes a ‘mixed bag’
By Michael Igoe, Devex senior reporter at COP21 in Paris

As negotiations continue, Tasneem Essop, World Wide Fund for Nature’s head of delegation at the U.N. climate talks in Paris, said that although it is still early in the process, “negotiators have a lot of work to do if they’re going to turn this draft negotiating text into an ambitious and fair agreement.”

“Clearly, finding all the solutions to protect the world from the ravages of climate change is going to take hard negotiations and multiple drafts,” she said.

Essop added that although the text has the “core elements” of the kind of agreement that 151 heads of state and government wanted to see in their scene-setting speeches on Monday, progress remains slow and the changes so far are “a mixed bag.”

“In some areas, the options are now clearer and better structured, but generally we still have very divergent options in this version of the text,” she said. “It is good to see that despite some fears the text has not ballooned further with lots of new insertions though.”

9:46 am CET, Dec. 3

How social entrepreneurs can bolster climate resilience

How can social entrepreneurship help repay our ecological debt to developing countries? Dr. Thane Kreiner, executive director of the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship at Santa Clara University, gives us the inside track.

9 a.m. CET, Dec. 3

Hollande drops by at Le Bourget
By Bill Hinchberger, Devex correspondent at COP21 in Paris

As French President Francois Hollande made his rounds of the Le Bourget venue on the opening day of COP21, he paused at the stand of Coordination SUD — France’s foremost network of development and humanitarian NGOs.

As he stepped up to the information desk, someone behind the table handed the French president the organization’s dozen-page policy statement called “COP21: Sustainable Development Goals unattainable unless global warming is kept below 1.5 percent.”

According to Executive Director Bénédicte Hermelin, Hollande recognized the document. “He said that it should be one of the pillars of the negotiations because it contains everything,” she said.

Asked if she expected their text to be reflected in the final agreement, Hermelin demurred to Karine Penrose-Theis, her project manager for public financing and climate change.

“No,” was all she said, with a shrug and a smile.

But Penrose-Theis added a more serious note too: “The agreement will serve as the basis for future work. There’s still lots more to do.”

6:05 p.m. CET, Dec. 2

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5:06 p.m. CET, Dec. 2

How the NGO community will play a role at COP21

What role will the NGO community have at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris? Devex sat down with Heather Coleman, climate change policy manager at Oxfam America, to learn more about what Oxfam will be doing this week.

5 p.m. CET, Dec. 2

Mobility and migration: What progress and prospects?
By Michael Igoe, Devex senior reporter at COP21 in Paris

@AlterIgoe via Twitter:
Climate scientist Dr. James Hansen is a rock star at #COP21 in #Paris

In response to a question from Devex, representatives from refugee agencies addressed the need to ensure human mobility and migration issues factor into the eventual Paris agreement.

Supporters are pushing for migration to be included at least through a discussion of loss and damage compensation for migrants driven from their homes by climate change events.

Even better than that, refugee advocates say, would be including mobility and migration in the agreement's adaptation section. Doing so could pave the way for more preemptive measures to address — or even forestall — forced migration.

Countries would be compelled to detail migration preparation measures in their National Adaptation Plans, to ensure they're better prepared for these events and to better prioritize "migration dignity," according to Mariam Traore Chazalnoel, a climate and environment expert at the International Organization for Migration.

4:46 p.m. CET, Dec. 2

‘Where did that money go?’
By Michael Igoe, Devex senior reporter at COP21 in Paris

Migration and refugee experts discuss progress and prospects for the #COP21 Paris Agreement. Photo by: Michael Igoe

Speaking with climate change adaptation fund managers from around the world, there is a general sense of frustration that adaptation rhetoric hasn't been matched by adaptation funding.

Donors describe climate as priority number one. They announce large commitments and seem to put lots of money on the table, but as one fund manager told me, the organizations that hope to get their hands on some of that money often find themselves asking, “what happened to the table?”

There is some fear that donors will be more enthusiastic about announcing they've reached the $100 billion per year adaptation funding target than they will be about making sure that amount of money is making its way to real adaptation project administrators. One of the managers cited an OECD report claiming the world raised $62 billion in climate finance in 2014. “Where did that money go?” he wondered.

3:19 p.m. CET, Dec. 2

Involve business to secure binding COP21 agreement

Differences must be put aside to ensure that the Paris climate conference is a success, writes Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, in this exclusive op-ed. What role can business play?

2:36 p.m. CET, Dec. 2

Increase smallholder finance to avert catastrophe — IFAD president

Small farmer agriculture may not have been given the emphasis it deserves in the climate change discourse, but will it get recognition at the Paris climate change conference? IFAD President Kanayo Nwanze tells Devex what we can expect from COP21 negotiations.

1:16 p.m. CET, Dec. 2

We stopped by Facebook's #COP21 booth the day after founder Mark Zuckerberg announced he and wife Priscilla Chan will donate $43 billion of their personal wealth to the Chan Zuckerberg Foundation. Photo by: Michael Igoe / Devex

1:05 p.m. CET, Dec. 2

Focus on resilience
By Michael Igoe, Devex senior reporter at COP21 in Paris

A lot of interest in the Green Climate Fund this afternoon at #COP21. Photo by: Michael Igoe / Devex

Day 3 of COP21 continues with a focus on resilience — and a turn away from high-level pronouncements toward difficult negotiations. Many expect these talks will continue late tonight, and the general consensus seems to be that negotiations will likely extend beyond the official close of the summit on Dec. 11.

Today, Devex is digging into the Green Climate Fund, to hear from the fund's senior management about what makes a good Green Climate Fund project. In other words — what will it take for organizations and implementing agencies to get a piece of the $100 billion climate change adaptation pot? Look out for that coverage soon.

10:45 a.m. CET, Dec. 2

Outside the climate conference hall at Le Bourget, Paris. Devex reporters Michael Igoe, Bill Hinchberger and Elena Pasquini are on the ground to cover the third day of the United Nations Climate Conference. Photo by: Michael Igoe / Devex

9:30 p.m. CET, Dec. 1

Rhetoric gives way to ‘brutal negotiations’
By Elena Pasquini, Devex correspondent at COP21 in Paris

Amid tight security in Paris on Monday, the world’s leaders came and went from the Le Bourget COP21 conference center.

Yesterday was the day of good intentions, the day of “we can save the planet.”

Today the tone was different, with the rhetoric of the heads of state and government making way for the tough work of teams of ministers and negotiators in what Oxfam’s Tim Gore told assembled journalists would be “brutal negotiations.”

The COP21 agenda is jampacked full of events and announcements that demonstrate the genuine appetite and political will to do a deal here. Indeed, a number of climate change specialists I’ve spoken to here have said that Paris won’t be a “second Copenhagen.”

At this stage, however, nothing can be taken for granted.

Devex correspondent Elena Pasquini with Kanayo F. Nwanze, president of the International Fund for Agricultural Development. Photo by: IFAD

In a conversation today with Kanayo F. Nwanze, president of the International Fund for Agricultural Development, he stressed to Devex the need for more resources to be directed toward those who bear the brunt of climate change: small farmers and people living in rural communities.

Also on the sidelines of today’s summit meetings, I met with Gernot Laganda, a lead technical specialist at IFAD, to discuss why small farmers are the “key clients” for the climate finance and how public finance can play a more catalytic role going forward.

While many activists here are wondering aloud whether the 2 degree Celsius maximum rise is a done deal, the key refrain on the sidelines of this COP21 summit relates to climate funding and financial allocations: “How much is in the climate finance pot?” and “Is $100 billion per year realistic?” and “Will there be sufficient funds allocated for adaptation measures, up from its current 16 percent?”

Stay tuned for some answers to these questions and more from my discussions with IFAD tomorrow. Good night, #Paris.

8:42 p.m. CET, Dec. 1

Planet Worth is an online conversation exploring leading solutions in the fight against climate change. Hosted by Devex and our partners, the campaign examines how the impact of climate change on livelihoods and ecosystems is felt across all sectors and is linked to key issues such as migration, water access and food security.

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4:30 p.m. CET, Dec. 1

What place for agricultural innovation at COP21?

Negotiations in Paris are beginning in earnest. But has the impact of climate change on agriculture been addressed sufficiently in the process that led to COP21? Devex reports from the climate conference.

3:40 p.m. CET, Dec. 1

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3:05 p.m. CET, Dec. 1

Temperature rise above 1.5 degrees Celsius could put an end to extreme poverty ‘out of reach’

What’s most likely to derail climate talks in Paris? Weigh in with our Twitter poll. Your answer not an option? Tweet it to us @Devex.

During talks in Paris, WaterAid has called on developed nations to pledge to keep the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Current national plans would likely result in a rise of 2 degrees Celsius or more.

“What’s been put on the table so far does not go far enough and will leave the world’s poorest and most marginalized to suffer most. If we continue on the present path, many of the U.N. Global Goals will be out of reach,” said WaterAid’s Chief Executive Barbara Frost in a statement.

Sustainable Development Goal 6 — to reach everyone everywhere with clean water and sanitation by 2030 — will be particularly hard to achieve as climate change worsens, according to the statement.

Along with curbing greenhouse gas emissions, WaterAid is calling on policymakers to ensure more aid is given to developing countries to adapt to the impacts of climate change. The International Panel on Climate Change estimates that even if the average global temperature rise is kept at 2 degrees Celsius, poorer countries will still need $70 billion to $100 billion every year until 2050 to help them adapt to rising sea levels, storms, droughts and other climate change effects.

At current levels, only 16 percent of global public funds are directed toward helping the poorest and most vulnerable countries adapt to climate change. WaterAid is calling for this figure to rise to at least 50 percent.

1:12 p.m. CET, Dec. 1

Looking toward Paris: The view from Eurasia

Low-emission and climate-resilient development pathways are vital to help keep the global increase in temperature below 2 degrees Celsius. What does this look like in practice? Cihan Sultanoğlu, assistant administrator and director of the Regional Bureau for Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States for UNDP, gives us her take in this guest column.

6:32 p.m. CET, Nov. 30

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10 a.m. CET, Nov. 30

What's our #PlanetWorth? Join the conversation

The impact of climate change on livelihoods and ecosystems is felt across all sectors — from the migration of people, through water and food security, to urban planning. To shine a light on these crosscutting issues, Devex is set to launch #PlanetWorth, a new global conversation, on Dec. 1.

9:42 a.m. CET, Nov. 30

Resilient livelihood strategies in the face of climate change: What works and what doesn't

“Resilience” has become a buzzword in international development circles. But how do we translate the theory of “resilient livelihoods” into practical strategies that actually work on the ground? Climate change experts give us the inside track in the first of three #PlanetWorth features.

8:28 a.m. CET, Nov. 30

7 ways to make climate-smart agriculture central to COP21 and beyond

What role does the private sector have in the link between food security and climate change in Africa? Through a series of exclusive interviews with participants at an ECDPM seminar on this topic, Devex got the inside track on how to make climate-smart agriculture more central to negotiations in Paris — and beyond.

8:24 a.m CET, Nov. 30

Advice for negotiators at COP21: Get it done and let's get back to work

Implementing climate plans will never be friction-free, writes Simon Maxwell, executive chair of CDKN in this guest column. Ahead of the Paris climate conference, what realistic outcomes can we expect to see?

8:21 a.m. EST, Nov. 25

What is the role of the private sector at COP21?

Governments and business leaders will converge in Paris this week for potentially historic climate negotiations. Devex looks at what the private sector's interests are at the upcoming climate summit, one of the biggest development events of the year.

Planet Worth is a global conversation in partnership with Abt Associates, Chemonics, HELVETAS, Tetra Tech, the U.N. Development Program and Zurich, exploring leading solutions in the fight against climate change, while highlighting the champions of climate adaptation amid emerging global challenges. Visit the campaign site and join the conversation using #PlanetWorth.

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