Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Climate change: learning the lessons of the past 50 years

Stephen P. Groff in the PovertyMatters blog at the Guardian (UK): Few would dispute the need to mobilise funds to support developing countries in dealing with the effects of climate change. At last year's UN climate change conference (COP16) in Cancun, Mexico, world leaders agreed to a set of "new and additional" pledges amounting to $30bn in fast-start finance between 2010 and 2012. An additional long-term goal of $100bn a year by 2020 was also agreed.

This is good, but not good enough. The past 50 years of experience with development co-operation have shown that finance alone is not sufficient. Ensuring funds are used as cost effectively as possible is essential for both providers and recipients.

...What should we be thinking about in the runup to COP17 in Durban, South Africa? One of the first lessons we draw from the past 50 years is that greater volumes of development finance do not automatically translate into better development results. Externally-led activities that do not build national capacity have proved unsustainable and ineffective. Over the past decade, the principle of locally led development has been confirmed and endorsed as the linchpin for improving impact from aid resources. In 2005, the Paris Declaration secured commitment from developed and developing countries on a country's control over its aid programme, as well as four more basic principles central to better results.

...These lessons must inform our efforts as we design instruments for climate change finance. In preparation for COP17, negotiations are under way on a "green climate fund" and other global instruments. They should ensure that external finance is driven by national strategies, and channelled through recipient countries' institutions and authorities....

A US Food Administration poster from 1917

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