MARRAKECH, Morocco — DR James Fletcher, a well-respected figure in global climate circles and former head of the CARICOM Task Force on Sustainable Development, has come out to bat for the Adaptation Fund, whose future under the Paris Agreement is being hotly contested.
“I think the Adaptation Fund should sit under the Paris Agreement. You see, the Adaptation Fund is very important because the Adaptation Fund is specifically for adaptation. The Green Climate Fund deals with both mitigation and adaptation and if you listen to some of the pledges that have been made, there is still a heavy bias towards mitigation,” he said, from the international climate talks being held here.
“For us in the Caribbean, mitigation is important because mitigation will allow us to transform our economies, give us the energy security that we need. But as far as greenhouse gases are concerned, mitigation means nothing for the Caribbean. We contribute what, one quarter of one per cent of greenhouse gases?” he argued.
“So whilst from a moral perspective and also from an economic transformation perspective we are quite interested in mitigation and we want the mitigation funds to flow — particularly those mitigation funds that will give us access to grant or concessional financing, so some of our initiatives in geo-thermal and others can take place — the biggest issue for us is adaptation,” he said.
Investment in adaptation will enhance the ability of Caribbean islands — which are especially vulnerable to climate change — to be ready for and recover from climate impacts, including sea-level rise and extreme weather events, such as hurricanes and droughts.
Already a number of Caribbean islands — among them Jamaica — have benefitted from the Adaptation Fund, which is helping to boost the resilience of the local agriculture and tourism sectors.
According to Fletcher, one needs not look very far for the evidence of the Caribbean’s vulnerability and the need for the Adaptation Fund.
“We need to see there is money for adaptation for us to make our infrastructure more resilient, our health sector more resilient, our agriculture more resilient, our water sector more resilient. These are issues that are very pressing and every time we have a hurricane season, every time we have a drought season, it really brings home the fact that we are way behind time where adaptation measures are concerned,” noted Fletcher, also the former minister for sustainable development for Saint Lucia, who is providing technical support for CARICOM at this year’s international climate talks.
Recent years have seen the Adaptation Fund struggling to raise needed funds to support its projects, following the decline in resources from the sale of certified emissions reduction credits from Clean Development Mechanism projects.
Fortunately, countries have been dipping into their coffers, with the result that the fund has been able to continue to do its work. This year alone, it had a target to reach US$80 million and up to yesterday afternoon, the news was it had received pledges for up to US$81 million.
Meanwhile, the fund — which was operationalised in 2010 — enjoys the trust and esteem of developing countries that for the first time, through its establishment, were able to enjoy direct access to funding for their approved projects.
It also has a readiness programme that supports the capacity of countries to effectively design and implement projects while, as a matter of policy, emphacising civil society participation and the need for gender mainstreaming.