Putting the Women in Climate Finance

Climate finance is a more than just about money. Women empowerment and gender equality are important cross cutting themes in the realm of climate finance. This is because climate change makes a bigger impact on women and girls than on men. There are many reasons why this is the case and you can read this and this to understand more about how climate change impacts them differently. Ergo, effective adaptation and mitigation solutions should take gender into account. And climate finance should also be directed appropriately.

Financiers and policymakers are beginning to understand this need. As the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) notes, more and more money is being channelled into gender-sensitive projects “intended to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment or reduce discrimination and inequality based on sex”.

During 2015-2016, a quarter of all climate-related development finance went towards gender-sensitive projects. About 81% of them had a significant gender objective. They included monitoring the impact of adaptation and mitigation projects on women, providing agricultural inputs to farmers, training rural women to become solar technicians, and working with women-related micro-finance institutions and savings groups to create demand for and access to clean energy products.

About US$14 billion was reportedly channelled to projects with a gender objective during 2015-2016. The actual figure might have been higher. Most countries represented in the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC) include gender as a reporting marker. However, not all multi-lateral organisations follow this. Only a few such as the World Bank and the Green Climate Fund do so. More such organisations should include OECD’s “gender-equality policy marker” in projects across their board to give us a more accurate picture of how much finance gets channeled into such projects in the future.

This marker is also used by the Standing Committee on Finance (SCF), which advises the Conference of Parties to the Paris Agreement. Its purview includes the major climate funds under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Most of these funds have their own gender policies. This gender-equality policy marker is used as a qualitative statistical tool for evaluating bilateral aid for achieving Sustainable Development Goal 5. SDG 5 addresses gender equality and it can help identify gaps between policy and financial commitments.

Another obstacle to effective data collection and therefore an obstacle to securing an accurate picture of climate flows, is that climate finance has not been properly defined. This has caused some debate at the SCF meetings. The committee’s working definition is “financial resources dedicated to adapting to and mitigating climate change globally, including in the context of financial flows to developing countries”. However a lack of a proper definition will mean that some flows get missed out while others that may not be going towards climate change adaptation and mitigation programs per se get included. 

On the whole, the woman has been put into climate finance. However more can be done to develop the framework so that climate finance can be used more effectively to address the gender aspect of climate change solutions. And it would ensure more meaningful financial flows towards gender-sensitive climate projects. The Paris Agreement is scheduled to come into force in 2020. The SCF has a lot of work to do in the next two years on setting up the framework to be recommended to the Conference of the Parties (COP). After that its in the hands of parties to move forward as quickly as possible while maintaining the integrity of their discussions.

Climate Finance: A Major Player of Climate Change

Climate Finance: A Major Player of Climate Change

You might think that Climate Finance is a dry topic, but it was made captivating by Dr Gary Theseira who is secretly considered as a heartthrob among climate change enthusiasts here in Malaysia!

On the 21st July 2018, the Malaysian Youth Delegation held its 6th Training Series at the Kuala Lumpur Teaching Centre of the University of Nottingham, Malaysia Campus. The session was conducted by Dr Gary Theseira, the Deputy Under Secretary of the Environmental Management and Climate Change Division, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

Dr Gary started off the session by saying that there is no single definition of climate finance. This means that there has been no consensus on the term as it’s a diverse concept that needs to be adjusted to different situations around the world.

The closest definition one could find is stated by the UNFCCC Standing Committee on Finance that defines climate finance as:

“Finance that aims at reducing emissions, and enhancing sinks of greenhouse gases and aims at reducing the vulnerability of, and maintaining and increasing the resilience of, human and ecological systems to negative climate change impacts.”

That’s a mouthful!

THE BIGGER PICTURE

Dr Gary showed us how climate finance played out in real life situations by going through 3 major events that happened in July. He showed us how there’s a common thread weaving through all these events.

Extreme weather in Japan

There was a historic heavy rain in July Heisei 30 that lasted 10 days and covered a stretch of 800 km, which is the length of Peninsular Malaysia. Households were without water and the Japanese residents had to essentially go back to “third” world conditions. This heavy rain was followed by a heatwave.

There was a $429 million in machinery and agricultural damages as a result of this phenomenon. The damages included cars and solar panels, which means that mitigation measures could not be considered. However, as an Annex I country, much of the damages are insured. The situation cannot be adapted so Japan needs to use domestic budgets from the private sector and capital markets. 

(Note: When UNFCCC was adopted, countries were classed into 3 basic groups i.e. Annex I countries, Annex II countries, and countries that were not listed in any of both annexes (the so-called “non-Annex I” countries). Annex I includes industrialised countries as well as many states of the former Soviet Union (the Economies in Transition, or EIT). Annex II is a further subset of Annex I: it includes only countries that were members of the OECD at that time. Thus, non-Annex I countries, which are the large majority, mostly correspond to developing countries.)

Status of Turkey under UNFCCC

Turkey is an Annex I country but the Turkish government wishes to be reclassified and removed from being an Annex I country. They claim that they could address climate change issues more effectively as a non-Annex I country, as a top-down approach can be adopted as well. However, no other country is keen to open Annexes for renegotiation.

Dr Gary then compared Turkey to Malaysia and said that we are similar in terms of population number, per capita GDP, religion and currency strength. The major difference is that Malaysia emits twice as much greenhouse gases per capita.

As an Annex I country, Turkey has no obligation to provide financial support, unlike Annex II countries. So if Turkey sheds their Annex I status, this would enable them to access resources that are not available to Annex I countries.

When trying to figure out who’s responsible for what, Dr Gary reminded us to get back to the source i.e. the Convention, specifically Article 4, as it highlights the different roles and commitments of Annex I & II Parties.

B20 of the GCF

The Green Climate Fund held the 20th Meeting of the Board on the 4th of July to discuss financial planning among other agenda. Dr Gary just talked about the main outcomes of the meeting:

  1. GCF was unable to decide on the funding of 11 proposals valued at $1 billion.
  2. US owes $2.8 billion and they are undecided on how to replenish this
  3. GCF executive director Mr Howard Ramsey resigned

It wasn’t clear to me how significant the last event actually is but Dr Gary wanted to show us that all three events point to the relevance and importance of climate finance with competing interests and objectives. Mitigation and adaptation plans may not be able to be mobilised if there isn’t any financial support. Dr Gary believes that climate finance should work on various areas of life and not be treated as isolated cases.

Written by Diyana

Edited by Jasmin

“Climate change is… hot” – An interview with Prattana Meesincharoen

“Climate change is… hot” – An interview with Prattana Meesincharoen

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?

My name is Prattana. I work for the International Forestry Cooperation Office under the RFD (Royal Forest Department), under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. I have worked for the government for 21 years, but previously I was involved with the royal forestry department and I have dealt with climate change for exactly 5 years.

Prattana Meesincharoen at the United Nations ESCAP, Bangkok

What is your role here in Bangkok?

I follow topics on REDD+ (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries), but unfortunately here in Bangkok they don’t negotiate, it is not in the agenda. Therefore, I follow other topics like article 6 under Paris Agreement, non-market mechanism, something like that. I chose article 6 because we don’t know whether or not there will be a concrete idea. Non-market can be a mechanism for REDD+, therefore I am tracking it here in Bangkok.

What made you get involved with climate change?

I think that climate change is an interesting topic and it is very important for the place and time. It affects my daily life and also from my work, the forest sector, it is important to solve climate change. In Bangkok now, we have many episodes of heavy rains, and I think that it has never happened before. Also, there are more flood events in Thailand and also our neighbour countries like Laos and Myanmar. It is all due to heavy rains.

How will you explain climate change to someone who doesn’t understand it?

It’s hot (laughs). I think that for the general people, maybe it is difficult to think about what climate change is. The first thing they think is that it is hot, but it’s way more than that. If you follow the conferences (UNFCCC) or if you read a lot, it will make you understand more about climate change, understand what is it and how it will affect our daily lives.

What is the one thing that you would want people to know about climate change?

Climate change is caused by everyone. Everyone has the responsibility to solve it. I think that everyone here know what climate change is, and everyone come from a different sector, so they have their own policy and their own ways to solve climate problems.

Edited by Kitty

On the technology framework – will it be useful?

On the technology framework – will it be useful?

About the technology framework

Article 10, paragraph 4 of the Paris Agreement has established a technology framework to provide an overarching guidance to the work of the current Technology Mechanism.  The principles of this framework, which includes coherence, inclusiveness, result-oriented approach, transformational approach and transparency will provide guidance on the promotion and facilitation of technology development and transfer. This supports the implementation of the Paris Agreement, in the pursuit of its long-term vision of improving resilience to climate change as well as to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Purpose of the technology framework

So will the technology framework help the Technology Mechanism? What do Parties think of the framework? Here in Bangkok, I attended informal consultations regarding technology framework as well as the Technology Mechanism to find the answers.

Informal consultations in SB48-2

The informal consultations, aka negotiations on technology development and transfer were discussed in two of the subsidiary bodies to the UNFCCC, which are the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) and Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI). In SB48-2, SBSTA covers matters regarding the technology framework (Agenda 5), while SBI covers matters regarding the Technology Mechanism (Agenda 14a).

In means to guide the flow of the negotiations, Parties were asked to comment on the following questions regarding the framework:-

  1. Is the technology framework a guidance for Technology Mechanism?
  2. Is the guidance clear enough? Does it align with the principles of the technology framework?
  3. Is the guidance in coherence with the provisions in the technology framework? Does it repeat or overlap with other provisions?

During the first informal consultations, one Party specifically commented that tremendous progress have been made since the last meeting in Bonn, and hopes that this session in Bangkok will be as efficient as before. But has it? Well, sort of.

What do Parties think of the Technology framework?

Generally, parties had shown their positive views towards the framework. Nevertheless, the framework itself have much room left for improvement, in terms of the small scope of the entire framework, taking into account the fact that this framework is supposed to guide the already existing Technology Mechanism.

One of the major issues that was brought up during the informal consultations by developing countries was that developing countries lack financial resources for the technology framework. Although developing country Parties have all agreed that more financial resources should come from developed countries, developed country Parties did not align themselves with the idea. “I will lose my job if I align my country with said proposal.” However, without compromising, the technology framework may not be able to meet its principles of being inclusive. Another issue that has been brought up by Parties were that the structure of the framework itself does not contain elements that specifies the guidance from the framework to the Technology Mechanism.

With some of the Parties browsing through Facebook and some of the observers snoring beside me, I wonder if the sessions of informal consultation for technology development and transfer are held important at all. From my point of view, at this stage of negotiations, the technology framework may not reach its full potential in facilitating the Technology Mechanism. It is, unless developed and developing country Parties cooperate and compromise in Katowice, the framework will just be rendered pointless. Also, considering the fact the scope of the technology framework is covers only this much, will the technology framework actually complement the existing Technology Mechanism and help in improving it? We’ll know very soon.

Written by Kitty Chen
Peer reviewed by Jasmin

I gave an intervention on behalf of YOUNGO

I gave an intervention on behalf of YOUNGO

It all started when someone mentioned the word ‘intervention’ during our internal meeting with Malaysian Youth Delegation (MYD) prior to coming to Bangkok. “I want to do it” I thought to myself. All I have to do is help out with the draft text, that’s easy. That wasn’t quite the case, however.

It was a night before the closing plenary of SB48-2 when we all met up in the theatre room to draft the intervention for the children and youth constituency at the UNFCCC, YOUNGO. Everyone had their heads focused on their respective laptops and so did I. Based on what I had learnt from negotiations and working group meetings, I wrote about technology development and transfer and talked about how Parties should improve, in terms of the technology framework as well as the Technology Mechanism.

Halfway through drafting the text, the topic of who should deliver the intervention was brought up, and the only ones who had not given an intervention or delivered a speech from MYD was Nacha, Syahirah, Daniel and myself. We were told to settle this amongst ourselves and sort things out before the intervention the next day.

On the day of the closing plenary itself, I was busy editing the draft text as we were only given two minutes for the intervention, and the text was way more than a page in length. The finalised text for YOUNGO’s intervention covered topics regarding the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report, article 6 of the Paris Agreement, Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) registries and human rights.

Towards the end of the day, we decided that we will have someone draw lots to decide who should deliver the intervention. Daniel said that he wasn’t going to do it and gave the three of us the chance, so we wrote our names on pieces of scrap papers and asked someone to pick one. Mike did the honour and unfolded a piece of paper. It was my name, I get to deliver the intervention. My heart skipped a beat.

Minutes after, I was asking myself the same questions over and over again “Do I really want to do this? What if I stutter and screw up? Am I sure that I will be able to do this?” I had less than an hour to prepare for the intervention. Having rehearsed outside of the hall, I walked in, towards the seat allocated for YOUNGO. I convinced myself that I will do alright. And with all the support from MYD members, I was reassured, and I delivered the intervention.

Credits to Jasmin
Not to forget, the support from MYD team

So, was it as easy as I thought it would be? Yes, and no. The toughest part was preparing the text and getting myself ready for the intervention. With so many people contributing to the text, constant edits were being made, even within ten minutes before the intervention was to be delivered. Prior to delivering the intervention, I had to convince myself multiple times, that I would do alright. It was easy delivering the intervention, because it felt like giving a speech with notes provided. YOUNGO’s intervention marked the end of all the interventions for the closing ceremony, so that also marked the end of our journey in Bangkok. Was I happy? Definitely.

Written by Kitty Chen
Peer reviewed by Syahirah Aron

#RiseForClimate

#RiseForClimate

The Earth’s climate has changed, and global warming has been affecting the lives of millions. In the case of the people in Thailand, it is the livelihoods of the fishermen and the coastal communities that are being threatened by climate change. Local communities have also suffered from episodes of heavy rain, which has caused unwanted flood events.

Crowd demonstrating outside of the UN building
Picture by Kiara Worth

On the 8th of September, people from all around the world took part in the Rise For Climate march held in their respective countries. Here in Bangkok, I witnessed the very first climate action in my life and had the privilege to take part in it. On my way to the United Nations building, demonstrators were seen crouching by the walkway, turning plain white sheets of paper into meaningful banners.

The banners and flags were held high by demonstrators from all over the world, demanding their respective governments to end the use of fossil fuels and transition to using clean energy, in which a Japanese demonstrator has called out “Heavy rain and typhoons had just happened a few days ago, and I can’t possibly go back to Japan because the airport is broken. We need a fossil-free society that will stop air pollution and catastrophic climate change.”

“In Bangkok now, we have many episodes of heavy rain, and it has never happened before. Even with our neighbouring countries, we can see floods due to heavy rains” a Thai lady said.

A fisherman demonstrating for #riseforclimate 

Along with crowds that were clutching onto banners, the people of Thailand had laid out coals on the road to demand for clean energy, while farmers presented their yield to demand for climate justice.

Holding on to her produce, a young fisherwoman explained “Climate change has increased soil salinity, and the farmers’ crop yield have been affected by it. We are also affected by climate change, there are often no fishes, and the prices of fishes have increased, burdening the local people.”

“Everything that has been done is all for the future. Who is there to inherit the future but us youth? We need people inside and outside the UN to make sure they fight for a future where all of us are equal” youth representative calls.

Whilst demonstrating outside of the UN building, it got me thinking, that while demonstrators were standing out under the scorching sun to demand for climate justice, negotiators were sitting in air-conditioned and comfy conference rooms, discussing on the grammatical errors on documents. Will the text on the Paris Agreement help at all? Maybe (not). At the end of the day, it is the action that counts.

Written by Kitty Chen
Peer reviewed by Syahirah Aron