Prioritizing Public Finance – Expectations of Developing Nations for COP 19

In order to get a deeper sense of what the main issues at the COP 19 climate negotiations are, I along with three other team members, decided to attend a panel discussion organized by the Third World Network (TWN) which is a global network of organizations is working on development related issues. The discussion included representatives from Mali, The Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Philippines, all of whom presented what they considered should be the priorities at COP 19.  The message was clear – developed nations are lagging behind, not only in commitments but in implementation as well, since resource mobilization is not being carried out effectively. Across the board, Public Finance, seems to be the burning issue of not only this specific discussion, but at the conference. The amplified voices of these developing nations highlighted that market mechanisms have proven to be unsuccessful, and that equity and ambition of targets as well as finance from developed nations for the Green Climate Fund is needed.  The Green Climate Fund aims to create a repository of financial resources for adaptation and mitigation purposes in developing nations. While the semantics of what constitutes as “Climate Finance”, “Public Finance” and “Private Finance” have not yet been established, it was clear that most developing nations expect at least $100 billion per year in public funding from developed nations for the Green Climate Fund. The all-encompassing issue of disparity once again manifests itself, as most developed nations propose to rely on private funds instead of public ones (as proposed by the developing nations) to finance the Green Climate Fund. The panelists from the Democratic Republic of Congo emphasized the need to develop clarity about what would constitute as long term finance, the timelines and commitment levels associated with it, as well as the allocation mechanisms. The climate negotiator from the Philippines brought up the inadequacy and inaction on long-term finance, and that the $100 billion by 2020 is a political figure, not a scientific one. Overall, mobilization of finance for developing nations, who are vulnerable to impacts of climate change, seems to be one of the major themes of the conference, which will be played out in the context of equity and burden sharing in the next two weeks.

Author: Puninda Singh

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. keenan reimer-watts says:

    Why is it that the funds for the Green Climate Fund are expected to come from private funds as oppose to public? Is there a worry (of the various governments) associated with the idea of the public being ‘forced’ to put some of their money into helping other countries? If so, is there any possibility of this changing?

    1. infouwcsd says:

      Great question Keenan. Others may want to add to this response but I would tend to agree with your insight – spending public money can be a very touchy subject, particularly when the immediate beneficiaries may not be Canadians, for example, but others overseas. I say “immediate beneficiaries” because of course we know doing the right thing and supporting those less fortunate comes back to us as well as major benefits in the end (aka far more peaceful, prosperous world… many major disasters averted). And perhaps more generally, I think our government at least would be happy to pass this responsibility off to the private sector, as I’m not sure how much they want to be funding international aid right now at all, unless of course there are clear economic benefits…

      To your second question: can this change? Of course – most problems can. I imagine to be successful greater support for public financing would require both a) much stronger political will, and b) greater “climate literacy” amongst the public to actually understand and support the critical role this financing plays, including how investing in human well-being outside of one’s own borders still has major benefits for those back at home. Plus, as Canadians, we used to live in a culture where helping others, particularly in the face of crisis such as climate change, was simply the “right thing to do”. Even simply for self-preservation’s sake, if you ensure against major, catastrophic breakdown of economies and social structures overseas, it has the dual benefit of protecting the whole globe from the very real possibility of that unrest spreading… In a world where climate impacts already undoubtedly reverberate across borders, it’s critical to protect and finance not just what exists within our own nations, but to support others in their improvement as well. Public financing recognizes this unique global interconnection, and I believe has a strong role to play… yet to get the public to a point of appreciating this, might need to encourage that idea of “global citizenship!” Check out a recent blog I did on that concept here: http://uwcsd.com/2013/11/14/the-joys-and-pains-of-global-citizenship/

      Thanks for the great question! It was so good I felt compelled to jump in with a longer-than-normal answer 🙂

      Kai Reimer-Watts

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