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The 2022 Joint Report of Future Earth, The Earth League and WCRP released at COP27, revealed that the extent to which humans can adapt to climate change is currently very limited. At the same time, the existing adaptation efforts are falling short of adequately reducing risks from past, current and future climate change.
It is no secret that the Global South and indigenous communities bear the extreme brunt of climate change. These communities and regions become even more vulnerable as they are subsided in climate financing agendas and policy actions . This is partly due to the fact that climate investors do not have the appropriate knowledge of what climate impact or action would mean for these communities.
As is popular, climate action is thought to be synonymous with carbon mitigation. Attempts to manage or deal with already existing “risks” of climate change, or simply put climate adaptation, are scanty and so is the flow of impact capital towards it. According to the Climate Policy Initiative’s 2021 report on Global Landscape of Climate Finance, adaptation’s total share of climate finance is only 7 percent.
To address this financing gap and engage especially the private sector capital, AVPN, with UNDP’s Innovation Small Grant Aggregator Platform (ISGAP), organised a roundtable discussion for social investors and climate adaptation innovation grantees based in Asia-Pacific. It presented a unique opportunity to hold one-on-one candid dialogues between the two groups and allowed everyone to think about these critical questions:
- What are the expectations of an investor or funder from a project when it is launched into the community and how can the investor step in with financial and non-financial support?
- How can community-level adaptation projects be assisted in becoming profit-making SMEs?
- How can vulnerable communities who are deeply impacted by climate change have direct access to climate finance, without the interference of an intermediary, to scale up their indigenous adaptation methods and tools?
- Can philanthropists and social impact grantees have conversations as partners in creating a continuum of impact-creating financing methods?
Community Engagement: Synergies between Investors and Grantees
A recurring discussion throughout the Roundtable was the community orientation of all Asia-Pacific adaptation projects. Making an entire community resilient and self-sustaining in trying to equip them with adaptation practices, tools or technologies, and then expanding the initiative by replicating it with other vulnerable communities in the region, was a priority. Social Investors like Stuart Mkojera-Thomson of The Good Business Foundation, who were keen to be a part of a movement and give back to the communities who have to bear the brunt of rapid industrialization, found themselves on the same page as the grantees. This shift in thought leadership towards community engagement is laudable as it sets the stage for a bottom-up approach in making decisions for impact investing, as was shared by Smiti Sahoo of LGT Venture Philanthropy.
“No Project is Too Small”
Challenges in scaling-up adaptation projects are as varied as the size of impact they are dealing with. An important insight that was shared by Kasturi Navalkar and Sandeep Roy Choudhary of VNV Advisory Services was that to access unique financing instruments like voluntary carbon markets, the small size of the project is not always a hurdle. Investors like themselves are willing to work with NGOs and social purpose organizations to enable grantees to make sound transactions for revenue generation by helping them build capacity, install metrics and design a well-rounded model.
Technology to Address Climate-Related Challenges
In Vanuatu, where the internet is still new, one of our participants is employing a geo-mapping mobile application to inform the local indigenous communities about changing landscapes and biodiversity to help them adapt to disaster risks. Championing similar innovative technology solutions through the APAC Sustainability Seed Fund, Marija Ralic of Google.org shared how technology alone may not achieve climate adaptation goals but it plays a big part in supporting these goals by delivering the work of many years in a matter of months or weeks. As time is a critical component in our climate battle, leveraging technology to increase efficiency is crucial.
The Roundtable featured adaptation projects ranging from those that target to benefit 100 to 150 people to those that target over 5000 people. The learning outcomes and expert mentorship from leaders on the other side of the fence certainly helped surface any setbacks in the adaptation projects of our diverse cohort of participants as well as led them to find solutions to those loopholes.
This, however, is only the first iteration and AVPN is set to impact the whole of the Global South, especially Latin America and Africa, working with its sister networks Latimpacto and AVPA, in crafting and growing meaningful efforts towards climate adaptation through similar learning engagements.