Accountable Now recently hosted a series of dialogues focused on unlocking the power of dynamic accountability to advance civil society and funder social impact and improve the ways we position ourselves to respond to some of the greatest challenges of our time. Our Keynote Dynamic Accountability Dialogue focused on Accountability and People Power in Climate Financing. The session was moderated by Mihir Bhatt, Executive Director of the All India Disaster Mitigation Institute, who was joined by experts from Transparency International-Kenya, FRIDA | Young Feminist Fund, the Pan American Development Foundation (PADN), and the World Bank’s Global Partnership for Social Accountability (GPSA) team.
As we collectively attempt to halt global temperatures rising above 1.5℃, it’s no surprise to see governments, global governance mechanisms, private foundations, and investors increasingly setting up financing mechanisms to cover the expected financial costs of climate change, mitigation, and adaptation. As we also know, the countries, communities, and people most likely to experience the worst of climate change have contributed the least to it; many of these financing mechanisms (e.g. UNEP’s Loss and Damage Fund) lack clear opportunities for communities and indigenous knowledge to participate in or influence decision-making, planning, and implementation. These climate financing mechanisms and processes are at high risk of being exclusive, inaccessible, and lacking any accountability to those communities. This means that climate financing mechanisms are at great risk of not supporting or solving the issues they’ve been set up to tackle. During our Dynamic Accountability Dialogues, we wanted to explore how to bridge the global-local divide and ensure that climate finance and actions are carried out in tandem with communities, women, BIPOC and other marginalised groups, rather than for them.
Our panelists work across various levels (e.g. national, community, global) and orient their work using a variety of lenses (from feminism to transparency to systems), so we encourage you to listen to the whole session here. But three key themes emerged:
For instance, Ann-Sofie Jespersen of the GPSA shared that one of GPSA’s key focal areas at the moment is how to get funding out of multilaterals and banks and into the hands of local civil society and communities. This push towards localization of funds needs to be married with opportunities to advance accountability of the funds and funding mechanisms themselves. These accountability mechanisms should be another way for communities to influence the design and delivery of climate financing funds. Sandile Ndelu shared how lessons from participatory grantmaking and other practices used by FRIDA to support young activist agency, voice, and power offer strong lessons on how to shape these global funding mechanisms in ways that are truly locally-led (i.e. what would it look like to have these funds held in a Trust for communities).
For instance, Frederick Ouma of TI-Kenya shared how climate-affected communities shouldn’t only have a voice in allocation of resources, but in the set up, design, and development of the financing mechanisms in the first place. Given the scale of the need for climate finance, as Aly Rahim put it “we need a scale up of climate finance which rivals the creation of the Bretton Woods institutions”, there is major risk of funds and financing streams being created with little to no reference to the real needs and challenges faced by affected communities. Laura Aragon of the Pan American Development Foundation shared that colonial mindsets continue to shape where and how these mechanisms consider communities’ input is valuable and needed. Decolonizing frameworks and tools will better serve the climate financing agenda.
For instance, Laura from PADF shared how a lack of gender parity in climate financing negotiations and negotiators continues to undermine community-level agency and influence over these institutions and mechanisms. In particular, androcentric views, which systematically prioritize and center men’s experiences as the norm, continue to be the norm in how mechanisms are set up, how the rules of the system are negotiated and defined, and what success looks like. Sandile from FRIDA further underscored how and why women are crucial to accountable and locally-led climate financing initiatives but sharing that evidence from the young feminist movement suggests that young feminists are already deeply engaged in better “world-building” initiatives that pave the way for the technical work required for climate mitigation and adaptation.
During this Dynamic Accountability Dialogue, Accountable Now and the All India Disaster Mitigation Institute also launched the latest issue of the South Asia Disaster Journal ‘Building Back Greener: Environmental Accountability in the Post-Pandemic Context’. The May 2023 edition of the journal is a compilation of 18 articles gathered from contributors around the world. The articles cover a wide range of topics–climate financing mechanisms, climate justice, the intersection of climate and gender, technical solutions for monitoring and mitigation, the role of communities and civil society organizations in leading climate action, and more. Together, they offer an overview of the various challenges faced in the climate crisis and underscore the need for immediate, drastic and collective action to prevent the worst outcomes of climate change.
A huge thank you to our panelists–Frederick Ouma (TI-Kenya), Ann-Sofie Jespersen (GPSA), Aly Rahim (GPSA), Sandile Ndelu (FRIDA), and Laura Aragon (PADF)–for their time, insights, and expertise. As this discussion merely highlighted some of the challenges and opportunities for centering communities and people in decision making on climate financing, we are eager to keep the discussion going and bring forward new ideas and practices.
If you’d like to work with us to advance accountability and people power in climate financing, please contact us here.