Climate finance cooperation must be a top priority at Busan

Development Policy19 Oct 2011Nicholas Rosellini

Recently released OECD DAC data from the Paris Declaration Survey shows improvements in the ways the international community and partner countries deliver Official Development Assistance (ODA), but this progress has been highly variable. Only one of the 13 targets used to measure how effectively ODA is delivered was actually met between 2005 and 2010.

The global survey hints at key remaining challenges in the way we work to deliver development finance. In Vietnam and Lao PDR in 2008, donor missions required meetings with government officials at the rate of two per day! The way aid is delivered can seriously impact on time spent improving front line services for poor people.

Climate change makes the job of delivering sustained development progress more difficult. Climate change challenges involve ensuring national development policies and programmes pursue objectives of growth and poverty reduction whilst reducing carbon emissions and increasing climate resilience. Finance for climate change is expected to reach 100 billion USD per year by 2020. This almost matches current global ODA levels (129 billion USD). The concern we must have is with quality not just quantity of financial flows – the international community and partner countries must work together to deliver climate finance.

Considering climate finance and ODA together, sources of international development finance will nearly double, but will we see a doubling of missions and reporting? Will health officials’ time spent on reporting and tour-guiding donors to demonstrate they have included climate related concerns within service delivery rise to two of every three working days? With our current ways of working, the answer is almost certainly yes, with resulting negative impacts on services for poor people.

Climate projects and programmes tend to be set up with separate delivery mechanisms and reporting requirements, both to development programming which is ODA assisted and that which domestically financed. Recent work I jointly commissioned1 with development partners, including the Asian Development Bank, shows that government officials already invest significant time and energy to fully understand the complex global climate financing architecture. At the country level, officials from relevant ministries and departments are developing common approaches to climate finance and ODA2. They are also demanding that the international community simplifies procedures and suggests a common application methodology for development effectiveness principles to both climate finance and ODA3.

Right now we have a huge opportunity to get this right.

We have learned clear lessons on what does and doesn’t work in ODA management. Climate finance is now a rapidly growing aid area. With a coherent and collaborative approach across climate finance and development effectiveness communities we will definitely do better than we have in the 50 years of ODA delivery. The Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan will deliver high level agreements on taking forward development effectiveness principles. It is essential that these principles are relevant to climate finance. The high level meetings of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) taking place just a few days afterwards in Durban, should aim to agree on the next steps in the climate financing architecture, a common approach to development effectiveness principles and a commitment to exchange and learn across climate finance and development effectiveness communities.

The stakes are huge; better lives for millions and millions of aid dollars. We must listen to each other and work together for the benefit of those we aim to help.


  1. See Realising Development Effectiveness: Making the most of climate change finance in Asia and the Pacific, CDDE Facility 2010
  2. See DRAFT Nepal Climate and Public Expenditure Review, CDDE Facility 2011 for an example
  3. Climate Finance and Development Effectiveness: A Roadmap for a Country-Led Approach was proposed by 19 countries in Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok in September 2011; A similar approach was proposed by 17 countries in Africa also in September 2011