Why Pakistan continues to lag in the competition for GCF funding

Mar 21, 2024
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  • climate change in pakistan,
  • GreenFin Innovations,
  • Pakistan is among those groups of countries that are most vulnerable to climate change. The ND-GAIN Country Index, an index that summarizes a country’s vulnerability to climate change, ranks Pakistan at 150th among 181 countries in 2021. The country is expected to face a greater-than-average rise in average temperature across its territory by the 2090s. This could significantly affect its current water resources, exposing an additional 5 million people to the risk of flooding by 2035 – 2044 and affecting yields of many important crops in the country. Despite this, it continues to lag behind its regional neighbours India and Bangladesh in securing funding from the Green Climate Fund (GCF), the largest global fund dedicated to supporting developing countries in their efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

    The GCF was established by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2010, to mobilize $100 billion per year by 2020 from developed countries to support developing countries in their climate actions.

    Pakistan has secured only six GCF projects so far, with a total value of $221 million, compared to India’s nine projects worth $542 million and Bangladesh’s nine projects worth $441 million. Moreover, all of Pakistan’s projects are relatively small-scale and focused on adaptation, while India and Bangladesh have also secured large-scale mitigation projects that involve renewable energy, energy efficiency, and low-carbon transport.

    Countries apply for GCF funding through AEs (Accredited Entites), which can be public or private, national or international. The GCF board, with 24 members from developed and developing countries, approves proposals based on various criteria and its judgment. The board also tries to balance the fund’s portfolio by type, region, and diversity of projects. For instance, Pakistan has only three AEs accredited by the GCF so far: the Ministry of Climate Change (MoCC), National Rural Support Programme (NRSP) and JS Bank. Both of these entities have limited experience and resources to handle large-scale and complex GCF projects. Moreover, Pakistan has not been able to access the readiness and preparatory support program of the GCF, which is designed to help developing countries enhance their capacities to engage with the GCF.

    This is also compounded by the lack of political will and leadership shown on climate change in the country. Despite the existence of a National Climate Change Policy since 2012 and a National Determined Contribution (NDC), the pledge was made under the Paris Agreement to meet the global goal to pursue 1.5 degrees Celsius. Unfortunately, the implementation of these policy frameworks has been found lacking. Furthermore, the NDCs for the most part are heavily reliant on external support and do not specify clear targets or actions for mitigation or adaptation. Pakistan is also heavily underrepresented in international climate negotiations, such as the Conference of Parties (COP) of the UNFCCC. For example, Pakistan had only one delegate at COP 26 in Glasgow in 2021, compared to India’s 35 and Bangladesh’s 19. This limits Pakistan’s ability to influence the decisions and outcomes of the COP, which guides the operations of the GCF.

    The GCF is a limited fund that prioritizes the most vulnerable and least developed countries for its support. Whilst, Pakistan fits the criteria, it faces stiff competition from other countries in the region that have similar or higher levels of vulnerability to climate change and its impacts. It also has to be content with geo-politics e.g. in the past India reportedly tried to block a Pakistani proposal for a regional project on glacier monitoring from being approved by the GCF board, citing security concerns. In the end, the proposal was approved after an uphill battle but only highlights the factors involved in accessing GCF funding. On the other side, in August of 2023, the MoCC announced that the GCF has committed to a $66 million project titled “Recharge Pakistan: Building Pakistan’s Resilience to Climate Change through Ecosystem-Based Adaptation for Integrated Flood Risk Management’, which is the largest investment at the national level to date in an ecosystem-based approach to flood and water resources management.

    Despite these challenges, Pakistan still has some opportunities and potential to improve its access to climate finance. The state can look towards SEED, a non-government organization that is seeking to secure GCF funding and focuses on sustainable energy and environmental development in Pakistan. It was one of the first organizations to apply for accreditation as a national implementing entity (NIE) of the GCF in 2015. Furthermore, it can develop and utilize relationships with its AEs who can help in identifying and developing potential projects that can be submitted to the GCF.

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