Workshop forges direct links to country-led climate action
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SONGDO, 

The Green Climate Fund has strengthened its country-driven approach to supporting global climate action with the conclusion today of the Empowering Direct Access workshop.

During the past four days, almost a hundred participants from various corners of the planet have met at GCF HQ in Songdo, the Republic of Korea, to learn more about how the Fund works and to articulate the particular climate finance needs their countries require.

Direct Access Entities are special types of Accredited Entity – organisations which the Fund nominates to propose and carry out GCF-approved climate projects. Direct Access Entities form the essence of GCF’s country-driven approach as they consist of regional, national or subnational institutions nominated by the national governments of developing countries.

The overarching purpose of the past four days has been to assist Direct Access Entities develop GCF-supported climate projects that spur low-emission and climate-resilient development.

Opening the workshop on Tuesday, GCF Deputy Executive Director Javier Manzanares emphasised the importance the Fund places in Direct Access Entities by highlighting how 80 percent of all entities accredited since last year are direct access. That means over half of GCF’s 59 Accredited Entities are Direct Access Entities, he said.

Direct Access Entities are key because while GCF appreciates the “aim of climate action is ultimately global, we recognise that mitigation and adaptation activities take place at the local level,” Mr Manzanares told the workshop participants. “You obviously have the local knowledge to ensure the type of climate finance GCF provides is most impactful, and provides the benefits for those who most need it.”

The workshop included a variety of detailed sessions stepping out the necessary stages to apply for GCF support, with an emphasis on the need to show a clear climate change rationale. This includes ensuring proposed projects are underpinned by rigorous science and adherence to GCF’s climate impact areas.

There was considerable interest among workshop participants in “paradigm-shifting:” how does GCF define what makes climate change mitigation and adaptation projects transformative? GCF staff emphasised the Fund provides a variety of funding channels to help enhance understanding about what makes a good climate project. This support is available to Entities when nominated by their countries and submitted through GCF’s readiness programme and Project Preparation Facility.

To date, 29 Direct Access Entities have received GCF readiness support. Meanwhile, seven Project Preparation Facility proposals presented at GCF’s first Empowering Direct Access workshop in May last year have received grants.

GCF’s Simplified Approval Process and Enhanced Direct Access initiatives also generated much discussion as these are forms of financial support specifically targeting Direct Access Entities.

There was a recognition by many at the workshop that while the public sector continues to be a vital source of climate financing, the private sector will need to be drawn increasingly into generating countries’ climate action.

Highlighting the climate finance deficit, Ayaan Adam, director of GCF’s Private Sector Facility, said even the global goal to raise USD 100 billion annually by 2020 would not reach the funding needs climate change will demand.

One of the main advantages of the Empowering Direct Access workshop has been the opportunity it has offered for Direct Access Entities to share information with each other.

India’s National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) has attracted a lot of attention as it is the country’s first organisation GCF has accredited as a Direct Access Entity, according to Shankar A. Pande, the bank’s chief general manager of the farm sector policy department.

“A number of participants in organisations currently applying for accreditation with GCF have asked how we went about it,” said Mr Pande.

“My main advice is that organisations need to reach out beyond the confines of their own group to seek out specialist climate knowledge. It is also important to work with national governments that have a clear understanding of climate change issues in their country.”

NABARD, which became a Direct Access Entity in July 2015, currently has two projects approved by GCF. One is focusing on enhancing the climate resilience of tribal areas in the eastern Indian state of Odisha, while the other is a mitigation project designed to unlock private sector investment in solar energy.

Direct access to personal contacts working in the climate space was seen by many to be one of the most useful features of the workshop. There was an animated discussion of how to facilitate exchanges among entities through a Direct Climate Action Platform online.

Stressing the value of face-to-face meetings, Donnell Cain – project development specialist with the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) – said consultations with GCF staff at the inaugural GCF Empowering Direct Access Workshop last year led to his organisation’s first GCF-approved funding proposal.

“Information exchanges at these sort of venues are crucial for Direct Access Entities to shape bankable projects,” he said. “At the workshop last year, we were able to sit down with GCF’s technical team to review our draft funding proposal, and chart the way forward.”

The CCCCC project in Barbados is designed to incorporate solar energy into the production and distribution of water and enhance rainwater harvesting for greater resilience building to climate variability and change.

GCF staff will study the results of the Empowering Direct Access workshop to feed into ongoing planning that ensures climate finance support continues to hit the mark at the country and community levels.

Source: GCF