Adaptation Fund Stories

Streamlined Access and Regional Approaches Strive to Create Greater Efficiency

By Mark Foss, Freelance Writer, Special Feature to Adaptation Fund

Building on its direct access modality, the Adaptation Fund has introduced two additional approaches to meet the different needs of vulnerable developing countries.

On the one hand, smaller agencies with less capacity, often including those hailing from smaller countries like Small Island Developing States (SIDS), can apply for accreditation through a streamlined version of direct access. On the other, eligible implementing entities can propose regional programs that address the adaptation needs of several neighboring countries. In both cases, the approaches aim to enhance efficiency for implementing entities, the affected countries and the Adaptation Fund alike.

In “traditional” direct access, a country nominates a national implementing entity (NIE) to access funds directly from the Adaptation Fund. To be accredited, potential NIEs must meet the Fund’s fiduciary standards, its environmental and social safeguards, and respect its gender policy. The Adaptation Fund has accredited 25 NIEs to date that can now design projects and access finance directly from the Fund.

Streamlined Direct Access

Some smaller entities or countries, however, lack the capacity to meet the fiduciary standards. In response, the Fund approved a streamlined accreditation process in 2015. This allows entities to submit alternative documentation for each standard that shows how it mitigates risk, while still respecting the Fund’s policies. Streamlined entities are often eligible to receive amounts that may be less than US$ 10 million, which is the usual limit for implementing entities. After the entity feels it can handle larger amounts, it can have such conditions re-evaluated and possibly lifted by the Fund.

If an entity lacks an audit committee, for example, the guidelines clearly identify the acceptable alternative,” says Silvia Mancini, who coordinates accreditation work at the Adaptation Fund. “Acceptance is not a subjective decision for the Accreditation Panel. However, the amount of funding ultimately available for streamlined entities is not written in stone. That decision comes out of a discussion based on the entity’s absorption capacity. Once an entity can show it has managed those funds well, then it is ready to seek additional funding.”

The streamlined process aligns the Fund’s accreditation process further with key international agreements. The Paris Agreement on climate change, for example, emphasizes the importance of efficient access to financial resources through simplified approval procedures and enhanced readiness support for developing country Parties. This is especially the case for least developed countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

The Micronesia Conservation Trust (MCT) in the Federated States of Micronesia is one of three NIEs that have been approved through the Fund’s innovative streamlined access feature. MCT was the first to open these doors for other smaller entities. NIEs for the Cook Islands and Armenia have since followed suit.

We knew if we went through the process we would really build our capacity,” says Willy Kostka, MCT executive director. “By gaining accreditation, we knew we could advance our entire organization because of the requirements.” Going through the process, MCT improved several policies related to internal controls and financial management systems. “The accreditation process wasn’t easy, but we felt it was fair,” says Kostka. “It enhanced our credibility and now other donors are looking at us more seriously.

Indeed, accreditation with the Adaptation Fund has enabled MCT to be fast-tracked with the Green Climate Fund (GCF). However, a “fast-tracked” entity must still satisfy the usual criteria of the GCF. In July 2017, the GCF approved MCT’s application for accreditation. “Streamlined accreditation is an innovative model,” says Mancini. “It’s been very well received. It is not only a process aimed at complying with the accreditation criteria, but also an important exercise for building capacity. Our job at the Secretariat is to facilitate that process, and to make sure that applicants know that accreditation is only the first step. Developing a project proposal (that is effective and adheres to the Fund’s policies) is a whole other exercise.

Financing for Regional Projects and Programmes

In 2015, the Adaptation Fund Board approved a pilot program for regional projects and programs, now referred to as the Funding Window for Regional Projects. It set aside US$ 30 million for proposals under three themes: food security; disaster risk production and early warning systems; and transboundary water management. Subsequently, the Board decided to make the funding window a standard feature of the Fund, and approved another $US 30 million for the program for the 2018 fiscal year.

Although the first funding approval of regional projects and programmes only occurred in 2017, the Adaptation Fund Board had from the start of its operations explored ways to do so,” said Daouda Ndiaye, Senior Climate Change Specialist for the Adaptation Fund Board Secretariat. “We are now seeing a great interest from entities and governments for these projects, with a current pipeline of regional projects and programmes of more than US$ 200 million. This reflects the existing need to address adaptation issues across countries that share natural borders or similar climate threats.

In March 2017, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) — an accredited multilateral implementing entity of the Fund — became the first entity funded under the new funding window when its regional project proposal in East Africa was approved by the Adaptation Fund Board.

Since the WMO is a relatively small technical organization, a regional approach is the most efficient way for us to be involved in the field, through our regional office based in Nairobi,” says Jean-Paul Gaudechoux, acting director for WMO’s Resources Mobilization Office. “We will work closely with partners, including the Food and Agriculture Organization and national entities, on an integrated program in the Greater Horn of Africa.” The US$ 6.8 million project, which is expected to get underway in the autumn of 2017, seeks to enhance resilience among targeted farmers, agro-pastoralists and pastoralist communities in Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda. Its three integrated components focus on community adaptation, climate-proofing the agricultural extension system and climate-informed decision making.

It’s important not just to build people’s capacity, but also to set up a value chain of climate and weather service information,” says Gaudechoux. “All of this information will be mainstreamed to the communities through farmer field schools and agro-pastoralist field schools.”

The Horn of Africa project is the first concrete collaboration between WMO and FAO in that part of Africa,” he adds. “Each organization has its own mandate so we are not stepping on each other’s toes. It makes sense to team up with partners that have a comparative advantage. The project is a good combination of different expertise grounded in country ownership.

The National Hydro Meteorological Services of the countries involved in the project will be part of the implementation team. In particular, they will be responsible for improving climate-informed decision making in regional, national and sub-national institutions.

As the implementing agency responsible for the first regional project approved by the Adaptation Fund, the WMO appreciates that it is breaking new ground. In keeping with the Fund’s focus on “innovation, action and learning”, the WMO expects to learn and share many lessons from its experience. “If this project is successful, as I believe it will be, it could be replicated elsewhere in Africa,” says Gaudechoux. “The WMO is already working on a new regional proposal for the Adaptation Fund, as well as developing regional proposals for the Green Climate Fund.

Proving to be another good example of the Adaptation Fund’s innovative and adaptive approaches to country needs, the regional programme continues to grow. Two new regional project proposals were approved during the Adaptation Fund Board’s intersessional period in July 2017. Those include a US$ 5 million water management project to be carried out by the UN Environment Programme that will benefit five countries around the Lake Victoria Basin in Uganda, and a US$ 14 million food security project along the Colombia and Ecuador borders brought forward by the World Food Programme.