CancunWatch 4: Report from Nepal, donor driven aid and broken pledges
This morning, as I was trying to locate the bus to take me down the long mangrove lined road to the building that was host to the COP16 (short hand for the 16th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), I met Gopal who had traveled from Nepal to be here. Gopal showed me the way to the bus, and we started talking about his work in Nepal. He was an expert in adaptation, researching local, community-led solutions to enable people to adapt to the impacts of climate change. His main focus was in considering how this locally driven knowledge could be shared, replicated and built on.
He talked about the issues now facing Nepal; melting glaciers, increasingly unpredictable rainfall, a net decrease in food production and a huge falls in the level of ground water table that has already forced a notable migration. I asked where his organisation got its funding from, and he reeled off a list of government departments for international development from across Europe.
I then asked how they found working with these donors. At first he was a little hesitant to sound critical, saying that he didn’t work with them directly, that was someone else’s job. But after I probed a little he went on, "The thing is with these donors" he said "is that they all have their own agendas. They don’t know what we need locally, or what suits us. That’s why looking at local solutions for adaptation is so important. There shouldn’t be so many strings." I agreed, and told him about my concerns about the direction The Department for International Development is heading in under the new government in the UK, redirecting funds towards its own security priorities, and privatisation initiatives, and, when it came to climate change, giving loans through the World Bank.
I explained about WDM’s campaign calling for the UK to honor its climate debt, because it had grown rich by causing the climate change that people in other parts of the world would suffer most. I told him how WDM activists around the UK are campaigning for the UK to support the UN Adaptation Fund, which any country can apply to, rather than the World Bank’s equivalent fund, set up by donor countries as a top down programme, where donors control the decisions about who to fund. He smiled and nodded knowingly. "It’s all about equality. Unless we have equality we won’t find solutions."
Later, I went to watch the plenary session on the fledgling UN Adaptation Fund, the first report back it had done since it approved its first project in Senegal a short time ago. The fund was set up collaboratively through the UN negotiations, and is far more democratic than the World Bank. It takes a bottom-up approach, which means that any country can submit proposals to it. The World Bank fund, on the other hand, chooses countries to fund in a top down way, leaving the process open to bribery and blackmail. For example, the US has already cut aid to Bolivia because it refused to sign the death warrant that was the Copenhagen Accord.
After the report on the progress of the UN Adaptation Fund, various countries made contributions; Sierra Leone, the Cook Islands, Guatemala, Palestine, all congratulating the progress the fund had made, warmly welcoming its presence and calling for funds to start flowing from rich countries who are yet again failing to honour their pledges. So far, the inadequate funding coming from rich countries is still going through the World Bank, an institution well known for its undemocratic nature, being majority governed by the same rich countries who caused the climate crisis, and who are now giving loans for climate change (something that was forced by the way the UK government had made it’s contributions).
This is no way to repay the climate debt the UK owes, or to move towards equality and justice that is critically needed to find a way out of the climate crisis.
Kirsty is senior campaigns officer at WDM. She campaigns to keep the World Bank out of climate finance and against loans for climate change.