Anchor climate financing on accountability, civic inclusion

Green economy abstract concept vector illustration. [Getty Images]

As the world continues to assess the Bridgetown Initiative on its one year anniversary, it calls for structural reform of multilateral banking with regards to climate financing and sovereign debt management. Global voices must continue to advocate for accountability and civic inclusion to be embedded in the emerging opportunities.

While it is pertinent for developing economies to embrace climate-smart technologies and benefit from burgeoning climate investments in Africa - which reached $30 billion in 2020 - there is need to engage in conversations on power imbalances that have rendered previous interventions ineffective and environmentally unsustainable.

From nations like Nigeria, Congo, Liberia and Sierra Leone, revenues from hydrocarbons and mining have not done much improve the quality of life, with evident deterioration of human development indicators. In this case, the challenge is to harness new forms of funding and redirect them to sub-optimal systems.

Over the years, the World Bank and other international financial institutions have injected millions of dollars into countries to address challenges related to access to water, education, health and other socio-economic issues. However, such interventions are either inadequate or ineffective to change the paradigm of the least developed countries and growing economies.

Africa, which needs $277 billion to fulfill its National Determined Contributions by 2030, is expected to receive significant funds in grants, equity investments and blended finance through vehicles such as Clean Technology Fund, PROGREEN and Green Climate Fund, among others. With the government expected to receive outsized support from these funds, we must acknowledge that current political systems cannot optimise the current targeted results.

Investing money into weak procurement systems woven around a culture of patronage cannot impact societies positively due to the high levels of inefficiencies involved. The World Bank and its allies have not done enough work to bake local vertical accountability into its work. Through their agreements, they have mostly left such responsibility to partner countries, which have always failed to meet standards and expectations on accountability.

Conversations of expanding financing lack inclusivity. The climate financing conversations must actively involve community leaders and groups that face highest risk of climate change impacts. People residing in coastal areas prone to flooding or those who inhabit forested areas have been the protectors of "Earth's lungs".

They need to be involved in broader conversations on how climate financing would benefit them. It is not enough to direct funds to global charitable organisations or direct investments to governments only. In the spirit of recent awakening on localisation, there is a need to foster consensus through local voices and champions on how the people need to cope with climate change.

The climate change risk management and adaptation funding should be diverse. National fiscal systems should incorporate rigorous measures to reinforce accountability. Organisations such as BudgIT, Action for Development and Empowerment, Accountability Lab and Connected Development continue to advocate for system-wide accountability across the African continent.

For climate financing to be fully optimal, it requires interrogation of the fiscal systems of partner countries which must be nestled in a multi-stakeholder framework, such as exemplified by the Open Government Partnership. As funding is channelled to the government and private sector to scale climate change initiatives, the civil society and other partners also need backing to hold respective stakeholders accountable to ensure optimal delivery of services.

The role local voices through media and civil society in relation to climate financing needs to be accelerated. Radical transparency, accountability and participatory framework, form the cornerstones of climate financing.

Multilateral organisations are at a pivotal moment to change their approach to supporting countries. They ought to champion inclusive engagement, systemic accountability, and resonating approaches to deliver desired impact. There is need for an accountability framework on green finance across all stakeholder ecosystems. Such an approach lends legitimacy to local voices.

The current surge in interest in climate financing presents an opportunity to rewrite funding mechanisms with strong foundations on radical accountability and local participation. This should no longer be an afterthought or a mere expectation from multilateral financing organisations.

While there are interests to extend climate financing rapidly, there is need for a huge paradigm shift on being responsible and deepening local climate voices. The Africa Climate Summit should also harness collective voice of the continent to champion the restructuring of Bretton Woods Institutions.