Bangladesh to slash its own climate adaptation fund

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation – Wed, 18 Jun 2014 10:30 GMT

Author: Syful Islam

DHAKA, Bangladesh (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Bangladesh plans to cut spending from its own budget on climate change adaptation and rely more in the future on funds from donors, government officials said.

The low-lying South Asian nation, considered one of the countries most at risk from climate impacts such as sea level rise, worsening erosion and erratic rainfall, has been a leader in the developing world in committing its own funds to climate adaptation. Officials allocated $320 million from the country’s budget over five years to a domestic climate adaptation fund, said Finance Minister A.M.A. Muhith in a budget speech to parliament.

But “this allocation will be reduced in the future and instead steps will be taken to increase (funding to) the Bangladesh Climate Change Resilience Fund, established with the assistance of our development partners,” Muhith said in a June 5 speech. That fund has so far received $187 million from international donors, with some of the money going to adaptation projects.

The minister proposed no new funding for the Bangladesh Climate Change Trust Fund (BCCTF), the country’s own adaptation funding initiative, in the next budget.

The change comes as part of an update to the Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan of 2009.

MISUSE OF FUNDS

Critics of the decision said the change in strategy comes in part because of questions raised about the alleged misuse of funds from the country’s adaptation trust fund, and the government’s desire to avoid further controversy in the future.

Last October, the Bangladesh chapter of Transparency International said it had found evidence of political influence, nepotism and corruption in the way funds were allocated.

“A significant amount of money had been allocated for the BCCTF in the last five years but the spending was poor. Besides, the way the fund was managed has raised questions for many, which led no fresh allocation in the new budget,” Shamsul Alam, a member of the Bangladesh’s Planning Commission, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation over telephone.

He said one advantage of relying on donor-funded climate adaptation projects it that they help transfer expertise and modern technology on adaptation, something Bangladesh in some cases lacks. “Capacity building of people on the ground is a must to adapt to climate change impacts,” he said.

Asked if donors might feel less willing to channel money to Bangladesh as a result of the government cutback in its own spending, he noted that in the new budget the government has imposed a “green tax” on industries that do not have a waste treatment plant.

That change “proves Bangladesh’s sincerity to climate change adaptation and keeping the environment free of pollution,” he said.

Atiq Rahman, executive director of Bangladesh Center for Advanced Studies (BCAS), told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in a telephone interview that Bangladesh still has a lot to do to adapt to climate change, particularly as it is so vulnerable.

He said the southern part of the country is particularly vulnerable, with 20 million people already lacking sufficient food, safe drinking water and sanitation systems. Drought-prone northern districts will also need large-scale climate adaptation programmes, he said.

DISCOURAGING DONORS?

Rahman said he thinks the government’s decision to cut its own spending on climate adaptation is the wrong one.

“The BCCTF should be kept well funded and replenished to encourage donors to pay more in the resilience fund. Unless you pay a portion on your own, why will donors feel interested to pay for your adaptation programmes?” he asked.

But greater transparency needs to be put in place in the spending of climate funds, to ensure the money goes to support people in the most need of help.

Hasan Mahmud, a member of parliament and Bangladesh’s former environment minister said adaptation projects costing less than $25 million will suffer the most if Bangladesh’s adaptation trust fund has no resources.

Donors for the most part only sponsor climate resilience projects larger than $25 million, he said in a telephone interview, but many of the projects Bangladesh needs most cost in the range of $5 million to $10 million.

“Big projects are not needed everywhere,” he said.

The government’s decision to create its own adaptation trust fund was highly praised by donor agencies and countries and a major encouragement for them to channel money to Bangladesh, he said.

“Donors felt (the depth of) Bangladesh’s seriousness about adaptation, despite not being responsible for climate change, following formation of the fund. Now the donors may get a wrong message and raise questions about whether we need any more adaptation funds since we have stopped spending from our own,” Mahmud warned.

Syful Islam is a journalist with the Financial Express newspaper in Bangladesh. He can be reached at: [email protected]

http://www.trust.org/item/20140618092711-072sy/?source=hpeditorial&siteVersion=mobile#

Indonesia’s new forest agency head expected to speed reform

COLOMBO (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – The recent appointment of a new head for Indonesia’s fledgling REDD+ Agency, tasked with reducing climate-changing emissions from deforestation, is expected to accelerate tree planting and other efforts to protect forests in the Southeast Asian nation, as well as raising more funds for this work. http://www.trust.org/item/20140108104601-gxicv/

Bangladesh moves to clean up dirty climate spending

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation – Wed, 12 Feb 2014 12:19 PM

Author: Syful Islam

DHAKA, Bangladesh (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Amid allegations of misuse of climate funds, Bangladesh is formulating a plan to coordinate expenditures across agencies and ensure greater transparency and accountability in climate change-related activities.

Officials said the move is part of efforts to ensure appropriate and effective use of funds in offsetting the impacts of climate change on Bangladesh, one of the most vulnerable nations to the global warming.

“In the fiscal budget, funds are being allocated for climate change-related projects for almost all the ministries. But the spending lacks coordination thus (it is) sometimes being misused which now we are trying to bring under strict regulations,” Rafiqul Islam, the joint chief of the Planning Commission, told Thomson Reuters Foundation.

He said huge amounts of money are being spent in a scattered way which causes frequent repetition and duplication of projects. “Several organisations embark on the same types of projects, while many areas remain unattended,” he noted.

Islam said if a “climate fiscal framework” is formulated and properly followed, agencies would have a clearer idea what projects are in place and how much money is involved with each of them.

DEVELOPMENT SPENDING

The government has already changed the format of development project proposals (DPP) to include climate change issues.

“From now on, while preparing a DPP for a project, it has to be mentioned if any climate change-related components are there or not. That will help in keeping track of how much money is being spent in what types of climate change-related projects,” Islam said.

He said countries like Indonesia and Cambodia already have in place climate fiscal frameworks that help them more easily tracking spending on climate change programmes.

The Bangladesh framework is being formulated under a project on “Poverty, Environment and Climate Mainstreaming”, funded by the United Nations Development Programme.

Currently, Bangladesh spends money on climate change projects from two major government and donor-sponsored funds.

The Bangladesh Climate Change Resilience Fund (BCCRF) is a fund operated by the Bangladesh government, development partners and the World Bank. A separate Bangladesh Climate Change Trust Fund (BCCTF) is financed solely by the government from public funds.

Alongside the two major funds, there is spending to reduce climate change impacts by various non-government organisations, foreign sources, and even private households.

As of June 2013, developed nations had made climate finance pledges of $594 million to Bangladesh, although much of the money has yet to be delivered. In addition, the South Asian nation had received $147 million out of $149 million promised by a group of wealthy states through BCCRF, the multi-donor fund administered by the World Bank.

NO CLEAR SPENDING PICTURE

Rezai Karim Khondker, a professor at the Dhaka School of Economics and head of the team building the climate fiscal framework, said so far there has been no clear calculation of how much money was being spent on climate change and from which sources.

“The framework aims at bringing coordination in climate change-related spending,” he said.

Khondker said a large amount of money was needed to combat the impacts of climate change on low-lying Bangladesh. The framework will help keep a tally of the sources of funds and also of where those are being spent, and for what purpose.

Experts and various civil society organisations have raised questions about transparency in climate fund spending and produced evidence of mismanagement of money. The Bangladesh chapter of Transparency International (TIB) last October released a study on climate fund governance which revealed political influence, nepotism and corruption in the selection of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to carry out work on the ground.

It said some groups paid 20 percent of their allocation as “commission” in order to be chosen for adaptation projects.

Transparency International Bangladesh Executive Director Iftekharuzzaman told Thomson Reuters Foundation that civil society organisations have been demanding transparency and accountability in climate fund spending from the very beginning.

“There should be policy directives for spending funds in need-based projects. Transparency has to be ensured at the implementation level so that people who are in need benefit,” he said.

BASIS FOR COMPENSATION?

Iftekharuzzaman said industrialised nations, who are primarily responsible for climate change, should offer compensation for countries hardest hit by climate impacts, but are unlikely to do so without transparency in how funds are being spent.

“Unless the good governance of funds is ensured, they won’t cooperate,” he said.

He said participation of civil society and experts needs to be increased in governance of climate funding, and that people with conflicts of interest need to be kept out of policy decisions.

Ainun Nishat, a noted environmentalist and vice chancellor of Brac University, agreed that monitoring mechanisms for climate spending have to be made stronger to ensure transparency, and that the decision to create a climate fiscal framework was “timely.”

“Steps have to be taken to eliminate the causes of slow release of funds by the donors,” he said.

Nishat said information on spending of climate funds and on projects underway should be made publicly available via websites to help reduce misuse of funds.

Syful Islam is a journalist with the Financial Express newspaper in Bangladesh. He can be reached at: [email protected]

Climate fiscal framework on cards to coordinate use of funds

21 Jan, 2014

Syful Islam

The government is formulating a climate fiscal framework to coordinate spending in the climate change-related activities, official sources said.

The move is taken to ensure appropriate and effective use of funds in offsetting the impacts of climate change on Bangladesh, one of the countries most vulnerable to global warming.

Officials said presently a significant amount of money is being spent for different types of climate change-related projects. The government, non-government organisations, foreign sources, and even private households are also spending money in this connection.

They said since there is no coordination in the spending, repetition and duplication of projects is frequently occurring. Several bodies are embarking on the same types of projects, while many areas remain unattended.

Joint chief of the general economics division under the Planning Commission, Rafiqul Islam, told the FE that funds were being spent in a scattered way for offsetting the impacts of climate change.

“In the fiscal budget, funds are being allocated for climate change-related projects for almost all the ministries. There is no coordination in spending. We are formulating the climate fiscal framework to bring about coordination between them,” he said.

Once the framework is formulated and properly followed, agencies concerned would be able to know easily about how many and what types of projects are in place and how much money is involved with them, Mr Islam said.

He said countries like Cambodia and Indonesia have formulated climate fiscal frameworks.

Mr Islam also said changes have been brought to the format of development project proposal (DPP), in which the issue of climate change has been incorporated.

“While preparing a DPP for a project, it has to be mentioned from now on if any climate change-related components are there or not. That will help in keeping track on how much money is being spent in what types of climate change-related projects,” he said.

The climate fiscal framework is being formulated under a project titled ‘Poverty, Environment and Climate Mainstreaming,’ funded by the United Nations Development Programme.

Prof Dr Rezai Karim Khondker of Dhaka School of Economics, the team leader of the climate fiscal framework study, told the FE Monday that there was no calculation on how much money was being spent and from which sources.

The framework aims at coordination of the climate change-related spending, he said.

Mr Khondker said a large amount of money was needed to combat the impacts of climate change on Bangladesh, a low-lying country.

The framework will keep a tally of the sources of funds and also of where those are being spent for what purpose, he added.

Presently, Bangladesh Climate Change Resilience Fund (BCCRF) and Bangladesh Climate Change Trust Fund (BCCTF) are funding major climate change-related projects.

The BCCRF is a financing mechanism operated by the Government of Bangladesh (GoB), development partners and the World Bank to address the impacts of climate change. On the other hand, BCCTF is being solely financed by the GoB from public exchequer to carry out activities to offset the impacts of climate change.

http://www.thefinancialexpress-bd.com/2014/01/21/14725

Shrinking the financial fallout of natural disasters

TOKYO, 9 December 2013 (IRIN) – Relief will be more easily and quickly available, and the economic fallout much more manageable, if governments project and plan fiscally for potential natural disasters and their human and economic toll well in advance, experts say.

The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) has calculated that since 2000, economies have lost as much as US$2.5 trillion due to natural hazards. In 2011 Thailand lost around 5 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) to floods, and Japan lost some 4 percent of its GDP to the earthquake and tsunami.

The latest major disaster in the region, Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, is likely to cause losses of around $12.5 billion, or 5 percent of the 2012 GDP in this lower middle-income country, Margareta Wahlstrom, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, told IRIN. – http://www.irinnews.org/report/99296/shrinking-the-financial-fallout-of-natural-disasters

Conservation of Mangroves for climate change mitigation

Conservation of Mangroves for climate change mitigation

Mark Spalding, principal investigator on the project and a marine scientist at the US-based worldwide conservation organisation The Nature Conservancy, says: “These results can help guide decisions regarding priority areas for the conservation and rehabilitation of mangroves for climate change mitigation.”

International Union of Conservation (IUCN) advisor on coastal ecosystem and famously known as father of mangroves, Tahir Qureshi said, “About 20 years ago, mangroves were at 5,000 hectors in Karachi but now its limited to less than 3500 hectors, Port Qasim, Karachi Harbour, Mai Kullachi, Boat Basin, Kaka Pir, Baba Bhit, Salehabad, Manora, Ibrahim haideri and all other areas at east and west coast of Karachi are witnessing shrinking mangroves deposit and as a result population of birds, fishes on decline while shrimps and lots of other species are alarmingly vanishing” he added.

Beside threats to nature, scientist believe that Sindh coast lies in a dangerous zone where storm surge could be dangerous and Karachi is one of vulnerable city where Industrial effluents, oil spills, municipal waste and land mafia are the real time threats for sea itself.

Worldwide study of mangrove swamps’ carbon storage capacity will help scientists identify where efforts should be focused to protect these rich resources for climate change mitigation.

http://e.jang.com.pk/11-03-2013/karachi/mag8.asp

Disaster dice loaded against poorest countries

TOKYO (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – It is often said that people in the poorest countries suffer most from climate hazards and the effects of a warming world. Now we have the data to prove it.

Between January 1980 and July 2013, climate-related disasters caused 2.52 million deaths around the globe. Of the total, a disproportionately high number of deaths – 1.28 million or 51 percent – were recorded in the world’s 49 least developed countries (LDCs), according to a recent briefing paper from the London-based International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED). – http://www.trust.org/item/20131206094547-fy6ma/?source=hptop

Nepal tackles methane emissions through trash recycling

By Saleem Shaikh
October 23, 2013
Thomson Reuters Foundation

Labourers work at the Biocomp-Nepal project site in Khokna, a village on the outskirts of Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital. THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION/Saleem Shaikh

KATHMANDU, Nepal (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Nepal’s capital is recycling organic waste into compost in a bid to reduce methane emissions and provide cheap, environmentally friendly organic fertiliser to local farmers.

The scheme aims to tackle environmental degradation and reduce the health hazards from rotting produce.

Trash is a significant nuisance in Kathmandu, and organic matter accounts for almost 70 percent of the total waste generated daily in the city.

Many neighbourhoods in the capital are dirty and strewn with rubbish. Some markets look scarcely different from garbage dumps and streets are littered with discarded trash. Inadequate waste management in the Kathmandu Valley and a lack of dumps and landfills make the problem worse.

To address the problem, Biocomp-Nepal – a not-for-profit social enterprise –launched a year-long pilot project to recycle organic waste into compost in March 2011 in collaboration withmyclimate, a non-profit foundation based in Zurich. The foundation develops and supports projects around the world to reduce greenhouse gases.

During the pilot, the project collected organic waste every day from the Kalimat market, Kathmandu’s largest wholesale vegetable market, and composted it at a facility in Khokna, a village on the outskirts of the capital.

A total of 140 tons of fresh organic waste was collected and 15 tons of high-quality compost produced. The compost was sold to farmers who cultivate fields on the edges of Kathmandu, but local traders were pleased with the impact too.

CLEANING UP

“We are extremely happy that the surroundings of our vegetable market no longer get strewn with waste or rotten vegetables discarded in the open outside the market for want of proper dumping sites and … waste collections,” said Pitamber Gurung, a vegetable trader at the Kalimati market.

In January 2013, Biocomp-Nepal expanded its waste processing capacity to 20 tons a day, producing 3 to 4 tons of compost daily, to meet the demand for organic agricultural fertiliser in the Kathmandu valley.

According to Raju Khadka, Biocomp’s former project director in Nepal who now advises the project, the organisation is collaborating with myclimate to increase its collection capacity to 50 tons of vegetables and fruit by 2015, which will produce 7.5 tons of compost daily.

The waste will not just be sourced from vegetable markets such as Kalimati, he explained, but also from landfill sites and homes. The growing collections should help curb emissions of methane – a powerful climate-changing gas – and as well as reducing health problems associated with rotting trash.

Kathamandu Valley is a hub for agriculture due to its fertile and relatively flat land, and the majority of the vegetables sold at the Kalimati market are grown using chemical fertilisers to boost farm productivity.

Compost, a traditional fertiliser in the region, lost ground to chemical fertilisers as they became more widely available on the market, experts say. But the overuse of chemical fertilisers has caused soil fertility to decline globally, according to studies by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

In contrast to chemical fertilisers, compost feeds the soil through its nutrient-rich organic matter. According to Khadka, it maintains soil fertility, reduces acidity, and stops nutrients from being washed away by rain. The compost improves the soil’s ability to let water percolate, helping to recharge underground aquifers and prevent desertification of fertile land, he said.

CHEAPER PRICE, BETTER CROP

Krishna Hari has been buying compost from Biocomp-Nepal for the past nine months to use on his land in Kirtipur, on the outskirts of Kathmandu.

“Before I used the compost fertiliser, I earned 35,000 Nepalese rupees (about $350) a year from my one acre land,” Hari said.

“But using the compost fertiliser has improved my income to 60,000 rupees” by boosting his yields per acre, he explained as he put small packages of compost into a cloth bag hanging from his bike at Biocomp-Nepal’s project site.

The compost is effective for twice as long as chemical fertiliser, according to Hari, and is cheaper too, at a rate of around $70 per ton rather than the $180 per ton for chemical fertiliser. Hari adds that other farmers have noted his improved results and started switching to compost.

Apart from these benefits, recycling vegetable waste into compost reduces methane emissions, said Khadka. Food waste is one of three main sources of methane, along with emissions from livestock and the mining and burning of fossil fuels.

Composting vegetable waste at the expanded rate of 50 tons a day has the potential to reduce methane emissions by an estimated 40,000 tons between 2012 and 2021, according to Khadka.

Biocomp-Nepal hopes to seek carbon credit financing through myclimate to scale up the project and make it self-sustaining.

The organisation also plans to offer training and demonstration sessions to meet the interest of community organisations from other areas of the country that want to create their own organic waste recycling programmes to counter the burden of rising fertiliser prices and address health hazards from decaying produce.

“Waste is a major problem in many cities of developing countries. The project can potentially be replicated in different places in Nepal or elsewhere in South Asia or the Asia-Pacific region where waste is a problem,” said Krishna Chandra Paudel, former secretary of Nepal’s Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation.

Weblink: http://www.trust.org/item/20131023115900-0irwm/