T he future of climate adaptation financing and project implementation will be based in part on the successes and lessons learned by the Adaptation Fund, a pioneer in the field. That was the consensus of climate adaptation and finance experts who gathered at the House of Sweden in Washington, D.C. on May 22 to discuss the Fund’s current projects, lessons learned, and the future of climate finance architecture.

Swedish Ambassador to the U.S., Jonas Hafström

Swedish Ambassador to the U.S., Jonas Hafström

The Swedish Ambassador to the U.S., His Excellency Jonas Hafström, opened the session by announcing the Government of Sweden’s pledge of SEK100 million (US$ 15 million)  to the Adaptation Fund for 2013. The Swedish Government has consistently supported the Adaptation Fund with annual donations since 2010.

“Sweden is pleased to note that the Fund has been living up to what it set out to do,” remarked His Excellency Hafström. “While I recognize that it faces some challenges due to the downturn in the carbon market, we should not lose this opportunity to draw upon and build on the experience and lessons as we continue our global efforts to scale up measures to address climate change. Sweden will continue to assume a leading role in pursuing cooperative responses to climate change, both with actions at home and internationally, and we will continue to support the work to lessen the stress of climate change.”

The Adaptation Fund has established a compelling framework to quickly and effectively help vulnerable developing countries and communities address the effects of changing climates. Among the Fund’s unique features is the direct access mechanism for countries to secure project funding directly, without the need for a third-party multinational organization.

“The Adaptation Fund is the only climate fund implementing projects through direct access today,” said Marcia Levaggi, Manager of the Adaptation Fund Board Secretariat. “We have pioneered this approach, and it has proven to be an efficient way for developing countries to access climate adaptation funding.”

In South Africa, for example, the direct access pathway to funding has had many benefits, including strengthening the country’s overall approach to climate change adaptation.

“Direct access has enabled the development of high-level integration in adaptation approaches through, for example, the National Planning Commission and the National Treasury, enabling us to mainstream climate change adaptation throughout South Africa’s development,” noted Dr. Mandy Barnett, of South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) and Executive Director of South Africa’s NIE (the National Implementing Agency accredited by the Adaptation Fund).

Key features of the Adaptation Fund include the direct access mechanism, active engagement of civil society, expedited decision-making, internationally-acclaimed transparency, and a Board with balanced and equitable representation from all regions.

“There is no other fund like the Adaptation Fund. It’s important and needs to be further funded,” said Sven Harmeling, team leader of International Climate Policy at Germanwatch, which issues a watchdog quarterly report, “The Adaptation Fund NGO Newsletter.”

Experts speaking about their experiences with the Adaptation Fund came from a variety of governmental and non-governmental organizations, including the GEF, the UNDP, World Resources Institute, the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), the Centre de Suivi Ecologique of Senegal (CSE), Germanwatch, and Argentina’s Unidad para el Cambio Rural (UCAR).

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