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East African States Collaborate to Lobby, Share Notes on Climate Financing :: Uganda Radionetwork

East African States Collaborate to Lobby, Share Notes on Climate Financing

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In East Africa, individual states are diligently preparing to find the crucial funds and recognize the need for a collaborative approach that involves sharing experiences and expertise.
20 Sep 2023 16:55
Picture Courtesy of Uganda Red Cross Society: Many Homes Have Been Affected By Flash Floods and Landslides Associated With The Heavy Rains In Uganda

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As the impact of climate change becomes increasingly evident worldwide, countries are gearing up to address the challenges head-on. However, for developing nations, a major obstacle looms large on the horizon: securing the necessary financing. 

In East Africa, individual states are diligently preparing to find the crucial funds and recognize the need for a collaborative approach that involves sharing experiences and expertise. Javier Mwengerantwari, an advisor in the Office of the General Director of Environment Protection in Burundi, observed that even though some members were making swift progress individually, they risked leaving others far behind. 

This observation was particularly significant because the impact of climate change affecting the region transcends national borders. "It appears that some countries have made significant progress while others lag behind. However, I believe we must establish collaborative mechanisms, set aside our differences, and adopt a harmonized approach for the entire region, " Mwengerantwari stated.

These sentiments were expressed during the second climate finance meeting, attended by directors from ministries responsible for climate change affairs and national treasuries from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Somalia, South Sudan, and Uganda. With support from the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) and UKAid, officials opened channels for discussions centered around collective climate finance goals and shared experiences related to climate finance access and implementation. This meeting follows the inaugural gathering held in February of this year.

At the conference, the attending states were both impressed and intrigued by the remarkable progress made in climate change financing by Rwanda. In an impressive presentation, Alex Muyombano Mulisa, the Strategic Advisor on Rwanda's Task Force on Access to Climate Finance, showcased the significant strides his country had taken in the realm of attracting funds for climate change initiatives.

Mulisa highlighted that Rwanda has already laid out comprehensive frameworks for attracting climate change funding. Remarkably, he added, cash has already begun to flow into Rwanda to support their meticulously designed projects.

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Available information shows that Rwanda has already secured $35 million from the Climate Investment Fund and an additional $319 million from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) through The Resilience and Sustainability Facility. In a similar vein, Rwanda has established the Rwanda Green Fund, with the ambitious goal of attracting funds from various sources, both domestic and international, aiming to reach a substantial sum exceeding one billion Dollars. 

Uganda's Margaret Athieno Mwebesa, the Commissioner of Climate Change at the Ministry of Water and Environment, was intrigued by the substantial funds that Rwanda had successfully attracted. She shared that Uganda had made efforts to establish a similar fund but had only managed to collect a modest $1.5 million. In light of this, she asked Rwanda to consider sharing the steps they had taken to achieve their impressive results with other members in the region.

However, Denis Mugagga, the Head of the Climate Change Unit at the Ministry of Finance in Uganda, offered an optimistic perspective. He revealed that Uganda was also actively pursuing climate financing and had set its sights on securing $1 billion from the IMF.  "We are currently in the process with the IMF, and they are assisting us in developing the Country Climate Development Report as a prerequisite to access these funds," Mugagga said.

During the meeting, it became evident that nearly all countries in the region have either established or are in the process of setting up climate change funds. These funds are designed to harness the various available resources expected to be directed toward developing countries as climate change issues gain increasing prominence on the international stage. 

Meanwhile, Haruna Kyeyune Kasolo, the State Minister for Microfinance, who opened up the high-end meeting took the opportunity to stress that while working together as a region is vital, there is also a need to align individual country-level actions to drive meaningful progress in addressing climate change across the East African region.

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Ketty Airey, the British High Commissioner to Uganda, expressed her support for collaborative efforts, emphasizing the need for nations in the region, and the world at large, to unite in the battle against the climate change monster, which she noted was impacting various dimensions of development.

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Dr. Funso Somorin, the Regional Principal Officer at the African Development Bank, who also leads the Bank's efforts in climate change and green growth, issued a cautionary note at the meeting. While East African countries are preparing to tackle climate change, he pointed out that their focus appears to be primarily on accessing climate funds. However, he emphasized that there is a much larger opportunity in the realm of climate financing.

Dr. Somorin explained that many countries, not only in East Africa but across the continent, are targeting facilities that offer relatively small amounts of money compared to the potential available through broader climate financing. He added that climate financing not only encompasses larger funds but also presents innovative avenues for both the public and private sectors to engage in climate-related initiatives.

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Dr. Somorin, however, clarified that states should not completely throw away the climate funds as they are also needed in the struggle to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

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Climate financing and funds are of utmost importance for East Africa, as the region is already experiencing the severe effects of climate change, including extreme weather events that have led to drought and hunger. A report from September 2023 by Oxford highlighted a concerning disparity: despite being largely responsible for exacerbating the climate crisis in East Africa, wealthy nations contributed less than 5 percent of the required $53.3 billion that the region needs to address the climate crisis.

In 2021, the affluent nations provided only US$2.4 billion in climate-related development finance to countries such as Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, and South Sudan. This stark contrast underscores the significant funding gap that East Africa faces in its efforts to achieve its 2030 climate goals. Closing this financial gap is critical to effectively combat the escalating climate crisis in the region.