From: Laura Schäfer, Sönke Kreft and Alpha Kaloga
From 1st to 4th July the CDKN, Heinrich Boell Foundation, NEMA – the National Environment Management Authority of Kenya and the Secretariat of the Adaptation Fund (AF) organized a workshop that brought together existing and prospective accredited agencies under the Adaptation Fund (AF) and practitioners and experts of domestic climate change funds.
The Adaptation Fund pioneered direct access to channel adaptation resources to the most vulnerable people. Direct access means that domestic institutions are responsible for programme development, implementation and oversight contrasting the traditional model where projects are often handled through external UN agencies or multilateral banks. The accreditation as such National Implementing Entity (NIE) requires the institution to undergo a check at international level to ensure fiduciary standards, transparency and ability to deliver projects. NIEs also have to prove capacities to screen and manage environmental and social risks of proposed projects.
The workshop itself started off by a “marketplace”. The different African institutions that already gained status as implementing entities under the AF presented on their experiences, challenges and successes. While some posters and materials didn’t have the glossy touch that one would often see from big international organisations and their communication teams, they provided a picture into hands-on experience of adaptation and confidence that the relatively modest money that comes through the Adaptation Fund direct access (the AF caps country interventions at 10 mio USD max.) helps countries to build their own adaptation ideas, institutions and visions.
Acquiring direct access, however, is not a simple task. While the African continent is leading in establishing such institutions (in fact six out of 16 accredited NIEs are African), experiences have shown that the process is often lengthy, and that after accreditation was achieved, the project development faced difficulties. The workshop got a long way in identifying challenges and exchanging solutions, discussing improvements to policy requirements and shaping concrete ways to help countries and institutions in acquiring direct access status.
Supporting their visions of green growth and climate resilience, countries such as Ethiopia and Ruanda presented the features of their domestic funds. This takes the concept of direct access even further, because it transfers not only the project oversight and implementation, but also the funding decision-making to the national level. This may be of interest for the Green Climate Fund (GCF), as it intends to establish a model of “enhanced direct access”.
It is clear that early investments by countries into direct access under the AF should be rewarded by the GCF. The discussion at the next meeting of the GCF Board to fast-start already accredited institutions such as those under the AF will provide an important signal. On the other hand direct access is not only a matter of getting a few administrative procedures right. In the context of the Adaptation Fund institutions are tracked against their responsiveness towards vulnerable communities. For the GCF the yardstick will be the contribution towards a paradigm shift for a country to low carbon and climate resilient societies. In-country leadership, ownership, and translation of fund objectives into a national vision are a necessary prerequisite for project and programme success. Direct access has the potential to play a strong role in that regard. However, it comes also as a responsibility for the country, reflecting for example in the level of engagement and transparency of decisions around selecting national institutions for direct access or funding decisions in general.
Germanwatch’s role in this context is, together with African partners of the Adaptation Fund NGO network and other associated experts, to conduct a research report, detailing country challenges and success-stories around the direct access pathway of the AF, implementation by multilateral agencies and domestic funds. The objective is to distil recommendations relevant for AF and GCF decision-making, national practitioners and organisations working in readiness activities. The report will be launched at the end of the summer.