Expansion of Climate Investment Funds Operations: What it Means for Asia

The mountain kingdom of Bhutan is highly vulnerable to flooding and landslides.
The mountain kingdom of Bhutan is highly vulnerable to flooding and landslides.

By Preety Bhandari

We were delighted last month to learn that the CIFs have decided to extend support to an additional 16 countries, among them several in Asia and the Pacific.

We were delighted last month to learn that the committee members of the Climate Investment Funds (CIFs) have decided to extend support to an additional 16 countries, expanding CIF operations to 72 developing and middle-income countries – among them several in Asia and the Pacific.

Through this support, rural and urban communities in new pilot countries will benefit from strategic plans to not only make them more resilient to the effects of climate change, but also mitigate these effects with the development of indigenous clean energy sources and enhancement of forest carbon stocks.

Our partnership with the CIFs gave us an opportunity to increase our own investments in the necessary mitigation and much-needed adaptation measures of our developing member countries. The CIFs has been the largest source of climate cofinancing for ADB and it has enhanced our institutional knowledge on accessing large scale climate finance to enable these countries to move to a low-carbon and climate-resilient development.

The CIFs are the world’s largest active multilateral climate finance mechanism—currently valued at $8.1 billion—and its operations in the region include 48 projects in 17 of ADB’s developing member countries, as well as a dedicated program for the highly vulnerable Pacific region.

Under the CIFs’ Pilot Program for Climate Resilience (PPCR), Bhutan, the Kyrgyz Republic and the Philippines will now receive assistance to develop their Strategic Program for Climate Resilience  (SPCR) and identify country-specific adaptation projects.

Bhutan, now facing increased frequency and magnitude of extreme weather events, is highly vulnerable to flooding and landslides, and—in extreme cases in the Greater Himalayan region—glacial lake outbursts causing not only damage to property and infrastructure, but also devastation of agricultural crops.

The landlocked Kyrgyz Republic is extremely vulnerable to changes in water availability, where glacial retreat and snow cover reduction already observed in recent decades is expected to increase, resulting in water shortages impacting irrigated agriculture and other vegetation. Glacial and permafrost melting, causing flooding and mudflows as well as slope instability, has also been witnessed here as well as in neighboring Central and West Asian countries.

Although ADB and the CIFs are already working in the Philippines on projects under the Clean Technology Fund, the country is also in need of assistance for adaptation and resilience, being regarded as one of the most vulnerable in the world to extreme weather events. The recent most notable of the many typhoons visiting the country each year, Typhoon Haiyan devastated a huge area in the central part of the archipelago in November 2013, killing over 7,000 people and racking up damage estimated at $10 billion.

These three countries, through the PPCR, will be engaged in a two-phase process to integrate climate resilience into development planning and then put those plans into action. Each will receive up to $1.5 million to develop their SPCRs under the PPCR, “an invaluable opportunity,” according to PPCR Sub-Committee Co-Chair and Haiti representative Rose May Guigard.

The CIFs received over 70 expressions of interest from developing countries eager to join the PPCR as well as the Forest Investment Program (FIP). CIF Manager Mafalda Duarte noted: “This just goes to show that countries are acutely aware of how climate change is impacting their citizens’ lives and livelihoods. The stakes could not be higher and so is the demand for support.”

In Asia and the Pacific, Nepal is the newest to be considered under the FIP. With a climate ranging from subtropical to arctic conditions, the communities that inhabit Nepal’s remote rural areas are entirely dependent on natural resources for livelihood – mostly used in unsustainable ways. The significant loss of Nepal’s forest cover in the last few decades demonstrates the need for biodiversity conservation and sustainable forest management. Nepal has an existing strategic program under PPCR, where ADB is managing the technical assistance to mainstream climate risks into development planning, and a project to build resilience of the country’s mountain eco-regions. Nepal also has an investment plan under the Scaling Up Renewable Energy in Low Income Countries (SREP) program, which includes a small hydro development project and an initiative on mini and micro electricity grids, both administered by ADB. Now we are exploring the possibility of similarly supporting the country in developing its FIP investment plan.

Bangladesh and Cambodia are current recipients of PPCR funds, and last year the CIFs decided to make them SREP beneficiaries. This year, these two countries have completed scoping missions. Next due for scoping in the Pacific is Kiribati which is following in the footsteps of Pacific neighbors Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, which are already receiving SREP funding for solar and small hydro projects respectively.

ADB—which is currently administering $1.6 billion in CIFs funding for its developing member countries—is ready to work with these new SREP countries in drafting investment plans which will develop their renewable energy markets to scale up access to clean energy for their respective populations.