Image credit: Climate Justice – Just Transition Donor Collaborative

How global finance goes hand in hand with climate justice

Climate Justice – Just Transition Donor Collaborative is an organization centered on social justice that gives power and resources to those on the frontlines of climate change. In a webinar hosted by the collaborative, climate leaders from around the world discuss the importance of climate finance and how listening to those providing on-the-ground solutions can accelerate the delivery of funds to those most in need.

The moderator,  Hugo Hooijer, the Global Program Manager at Porticus, sets the stage. At the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), rich nations pledged to funnel $100 billion a year to less wealthy countries to help them adapt to climate change and mitigate further temperature rise. Where did this money go, and how was it spent?

Dropping the ball

Infuriatingly, Saleemul Huq, the Director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD), reports that less than 10% of the money reached the most vulnerable. “The system of delivery is not fit for purpose,” he says and elaborates that in some places, the money harmed the areas it was seeking to help as the solutions did not fit the scenario.

Dana Schran from Transparency International’s Climate Governance Integrity Programme further breaks down Huq’s claims explaining that researchers estimate that 35-60% of all climate funds are lost to corruption. And again, of the projects that are constructed, 80% of them would be classified as poorly operated.

Giving local communities the power

With such a dire situation in a climate emergency, what can be done? Niranjali Amerasinghe, the  Executive Director of ActionAid USA, says that a paradigm shift is needed in who holds power when it comes to climate solution projects.

Communities and groups that have done the least to contribute to climate change are the ones suffering the most from its impacts and also the most left out in policy and decision-making. “We give more power to those with college education rather than those on the frontlines bearing the brunt,” she says.  “We don’t see enough connective tissue at the local level with governmental and international levels.”

Joshua Amponsem, a climate activist and Founder of Green Africa Youth Organization, agrees. He asserts that local organizations need to be trusted with resources as they are the ones providing the first aid and disaster relief.

“It’s insane that an outside organization flies in, then gives peanuts to the local organizations,” he says. “Carbon solutions are made in one place, then transported like a good to a location and bought for prices. Not how this needs to be done.”

The panel agrees that the industrial-style type of structure that the world is used to is not going to work when it comes to climate solutions. There is a notion in higher-income countries that giving funds and the sole power to spend those funds in lower-income countries will automatically lead to corruption.

“Big organizations mismanage money all the time and still get money. Local organizations have to prove how they have spent every dollar before they can get more,” Amponsem declares.

Angelique Pouponneau, the Policy Adviser to the Chair of the Alliance of Small Islands States Climate, gives one such example. A project in the Maldives was told that they needed to collect more data on coastal erosion to receive funding. “So, they had to raise funds to do research to then get another fund, and it was an urgent problem they were trying to solve.”

Therefore, change is needed, moving away from the long-drawn-out project proposal type approach when it comes to climate solutions. Rather than governments spending a significant amount of time analyzing communities in need and asking for more information, philanthropies  doing their due diligence and the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) report must be trusted that these areas are impacted.

The role of philanthroactivism

The panel is hopeful, however, that transformation is coming and already in the works. Capacity is being built at the local level through philanthroactivism, and a massive movement is gaining traction as organizations tell the stories of those working on the ground.

Philanthropic organizations have the ability to be more risk-taking than traditional financial institutions. Without the need for immediate profitable outcomes for shareholders, we can trust, support, and deliver funds to on-the-ground leaders to make decisions that best serve their communities.

In fact, when we let those closest to nature heal Mother Earth, she bounces back abundantly, earnings that can be felt worldwide.

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