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Executive Director of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre Dr Kenrick Leslie, CBE, recently led a team of experts from the Caribbean to the Pacific in a bid to strengthen existing South-South collaboration with the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).
“Like the Pacific Islands, the Caribbean islands are small in size, vulnerable to climate change and the lives of our people are based on utilising natural resources,” said Dr Leslie.
Over the last five years the 5Cs executed over 16 climate change projects across the Caribbean at a cost of approximately US$45 million, much of which is of a similar nature to that which SPREP has been undertaking in the Pacific.
President of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) Dr. Warren Smith says the Green Climate Fund (GCF), a new multilateral initiative, must achieve three short-term objectives if it is to be different, make a significant contribution to transforming Caribbean economies and create low carbon, climate-resilient societies in the region.
Third, this Fund must pay particular attention to the needs of those developing countries which are most vulnerable to climate change.
In underscoring the importance of this Fund, Dr. Smith said,
We, in the Caribbean, share the vision of the founders of this Fund, as enunciated in its Governing Instrument that, “given the urgency and seriousness of climate change …the Fund is to make a significant and ambitious contribution to the global efforts towards attaining the goals set by the international community to combat climate change”
To ensure that [developing] countries can access the Fund on equal terms, when it is fully operational, the Board must advance, in a meaningful manner, its work programme on climate finance readiness and preparatory support.
The GCF Board members from Barbados and Zambia, representing the Small Island Developing States and Least Developed Countries constituencies, have called for the prioritisation of activities related to readiness and preparatory support during the design of the Fund, as developing countries in these groups have, traditionally, not accessed climate finance at levels commensurate with their high vulnerability to climate change.
Take, for example, the case of the Caribbean. Of the 694 national projects approved by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) under its climate change focal area between FY 1991 and FY 2013, only 33 national projects from CARICOM countries received support. This represents a mere USD24 million or less than 1% of the total USD2.5 billion grant financing provided by the GEF for national climate action. The amount allocated to the Caribbean must be seen in the context of a worsening of the climate change phenomenon and of economic losses in excess of USD1 billion in three Caribbean countries for 2012 alone.
This inability of Caribbean countries to access climate financing can be directly attributed to institutional constraints; to difficulty in identifying priorities and developing coherent investment programmes; and to serious deficiencies in capacity to effectively and efficiently implement projects and programmes.
It is extremely important to note that, in general, the burdensome criteria attached to accessing resources are often by themselves a deterrent to access.
The situation is complicated by the monitoring and reporting requirements to evaluate outcomes.
Therefore, if these countries and other countries with similar capacity constraints are to benefit from the GCF, it is crucial that focus is placed on “climate finance readiness” at the national, regional and international levels ~Dr. Warren Smith
Despite these challenges, Dr. Smith notes that there is consensus, at the highest political levels in the Caribbean, on the way forward.
Leaders have endorsed a Regional Climate Change Strategy and Implementation Plan to guide national and regional efforts towards building climate-resilient, low-carbon economies. This effort will require transformational change by national governments, regional organisations, civil society and the private sector, underpinned by an unprecedented level of financial resources and technical assistance. Within the context of the regional Implementation Plan, CDB has been assigned, and takes seriously, the role of spearheading the Region’s resource mobilisation efforts.
Dr. Smith says the region must boost capacity (policy, institutional, expertise and accountability) and develop investment-ready, low-carbon climate-resilient projects and programmes to benefit from the GCF and other new flows of low-carbon, climate-resilient financing.
** The workshop was convened by CDB, in partnership with the Green Climate Fund and the Government of Germany through GIZ.