Daily report for 8 December 2015

Rio Conventions Pavilion (RCP) at UNFCCC COP 21

The RCP at UNFCCC COP21 convened as the ‘Day of Action,’ on 8 December 2015, in Paris, France. The morning opened with a session titled ‘Adapting from the Ground Up: A New Perspective on Private Sector Engagement and Resilience,’ where participants heard keynote speeches from Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator, and Andrew Steer, President and CEO, World Resources Institute (WRI), followed by a panel discussion. The afternoon session began with a presentation on the ‘Pole to Paris’ project.

Panel sessions also took place on aggregating finance for low-carbon energy, and strengthening climate policies through the UNFCCC’s reporting tools, with the former hearing addresses from Helen Clark, and Naoko Ishii, CEO and Chairperson, GEF.


Referring to the film that opened the session, which presented a solar-powered water pump project in Cambodia, Pradeep Kurukulasuriya, UNDP, stated that after implementation, average incomes increased 300%, and described the “important multiplier effects” from the project, including that communities formed themselves into collectives, pooled resources to maintain the system, and sold excess water resources.    

Calling micro and small enterprises (MSEs) the “backbone of the communities in which they operate,” Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator, cautioned on the impacts of climate change on vulnerable communities. She introduced a report, produced in collaboration with WRI, titled ‘Adapting from the Ground Up.’ This report, she stated, addresses, inter alia: how decision makers can create a supportive environment for MSEs; innovative mechanisms to reduce investment risks; and, the removal of policy and regulatory obstacles. Clark said the report makes the case for focusing on the micro-scale, stating that, “strengthening the resilience of MSEs strengthens the resilience of communities,” noting that MSEs provide approximately 60% of livelihoods in developing countries.

Andrew Steer, President and CEO, WRI, described MSEs as being at “the heart of the adaptation challenge,” as they account for a large portion of employment, are the most vulnerable and the most nimble, and have a huge potential to bring solutions. Drawing on the report, Steer outlined six categories to facilitate adaptation, which included: information systems; technical assistance and training; institutions and policies; the role of government, civil society and international agencies in market and business development; partnerships; and, finance and financial institutions. He closed, calling for participants to support meaningful implementation.

Heather McGray, WRI, summarized the main sections of the report, focusing on, among others: drivers of investment in adaptation; drivers of barriers to adaptation; interventions to catalyze private sector engagement in adaptation; principles for engaging MSEs in adaptation; and, recommendations. She described the report as providing a menu of flexible options for governments to apply within their specific context.

Alan Miller, International Finance Corporation (IFC), moderated the subsequent high-level panel. Ponlok Tin, Secretary General, Cambodia National Council for Sustainable Development, discussed Cambodia’s history and context, outlining opportunities and barriers facing MSEs in his country. He noted the challenge of accessing finance, while underscoring the importance of local analysis, engagement of the private sector, climate-smart investment, and scaling-up technologies. He closed saying, “we need a whole value chain for creating adaptation.”

Theo de Jager, President, Pan African Farmers’ Organization, and President, Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions, noted that the average farmer in his region is female, with low crop yields due to limited resources. He underscored that to resolve this, a paradigm shift and “brave political decisions” are needed to allow for easy cross-border collaboration and cooperation. He said that through collaboration or grouping, small-scale farmers can mechanize and commercialize their operations.

Robert Rutaagi, Chairperson, Uganda National Meteorological Authority, outlined the importance of PPPs in the agricultural sector. He said that the private sector is vital in Uganda, underscoring that it has led to modernization and efficiency gains. He noted that to achieve success in the agricultural sector, timeously supplied and appropriate meteorological information is necessary. He stressed that the latter is the objective of the Uganda National Meteorological Authority.

Francine Stevens, Vodafone Global Enterprises, stated that there is a growing acknowledgement that the private sector must become part of the solution to sustainability challenges. Stevens noted that the huge growth of the emerging markets provides both opportunities and challenges, but said that Vodafone has used mobile solutions to meet some of the challenges. She provided an overview of the ‘Vodafone Farmers Club,’ now operating in six countries, saying that it provides services such as access to: forecast and best practice information; a virtual market place; and, financial services.

Ewan McDonald, Co-Chair, Green Climate Fund (GCF) Board, commended efforts to get adaptation placed at the center of the new climate agreement. He stated that the GCF has approved its first eight projects, noting that six of them focus on resilience. He described a specific private sector window, focusing on small enterprise activities.

Abdoulkarim Mohamed, Minister of External Relations and Cooperation, Comoros, underscored efforts to build a “green growth economy” in the Comoros, addressing health, the environment, and poverty eradiction. He described efforts to increase private sector capacity to support green initiatives, such as training women to install solar equipment to reduce the use of wood-based energy systems, and working with farmers to support CSA.

Audience members shared examples of small-scale projects they were involved in, such as designing resource and energy efficient building technologies, and asked how to define resilience, and how to support and share information on resilience.

Miller summarized the discussion, underscoring that increased attention on resilience should be directed towards small businesses, and stressed the role of collaborations to do so.


Pradeep Kurukulasuriya introduced Daniel Price, Founder, Director, and Southern Cyclist, and, Erlend Moster Knudsen, Deputy-Director, and Northern Runner, both from the ‘Pole to Paris’ project. Together Price and Knudsen described their project and journey. Originally meeting in an artic field school as PhD students studying climate change in Antarctica and the Artic, respectively, Price and Knudsen stated that they developed the project to raise awareness about climate change, and collect stories from communities along the way. Both described climate change impacts occurring at the two poles, and told the story of their respective journeys, as well as the routes they took, and the people they met along the way. They described travelling from the poles to Paris with “one common voice,” and underscored the need to continue speaking and caring about climate change, obtain finance to address it, and reduce CO2 emissions. They closed saying, “by running and biking, we pulled together in the same direction,” and, “it is possible to move in the same direction, working together for a sustainable solution.”

Responding to questions from the audience, discussion covered, among others, keeping the momentum beyond Paris, as well as: the importance of communication; the need for positive messages and stories when talking about climate change; the opportunity to use the project to lobby delegates to make strong commitments; the need to go beyond commitments to actions; and, the importance of storytelling by the people affected by climate change.


Sean Kidney, CEO, Climate Bonds Initiative, moderated this session. Calling energy a dominant issue to support the new global sustainable development agenda, and, referring to SDG7 (Affordable and Clean Energy), Helen Clark introduced efforts to aggregate finance for low-carbon energy. She noted several developments, including: the decreasing costs of renewable energy; the emergence of decentralized energy systems that compliment large-scale systems; and, innovative business models to support renewable energy. She underscored that through aggregation, small-scale energy projects can be supported by bundling them together, while stressing the need for standardization and supportive financing.

Naoko Ishii, CEO and Chairperson, GEF, underscored the growing willingness to support sustainable energy initiatives. She called for creating multi-stakeholder platforms, for example to support energy efficiency in buildings, and suggested working with city mayors, the private sector, and other partners.She announced the Climate Aggregation Platform to aggregate small projects in order to attract investors and capital markets. She underscored the need for: awareness raising; harmonization to attract capital, through, for example, standardization; and, demonstration projects at the country-scale. 

Asking how to create the right policy circumstances to move investments in the energy transition from “billions to trillions,” Christopher Kaminker, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), called for creating an enabling environment. Highlighting the need for regulation, design and oversight, he underscored the importance of specific framework conditions, including: ensuring credit worthiness and risk return; and creating a stable and transparent investment environment.

Michael Eckhart, Citigroup, described being, “40 years into a 100-year transition to a clean energy world.” He said current challenges include “not creating innovations, but scaling them up,” recognizing that PPPs form part of the answer. For now, he stated, it is better to focus on portfolios of investments, and then later graduate to securitization.

Martin Berg, European Investment Bank (EIB), said his bank is a large financier of climate action projects worldwide. He underscored that, “we need to move beyond the green bond market” towards aggregation. Berg outlined obstacles facing investment, noting the weak profiles of energy service companies (ESCOs).

Henning Wuester, International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), said he believes that, by 2030, renewables can bring half of what is required to solve the climate problem, but cautioned that this will require scaling-up private sector investments and aggregation, saying this is “a crucial building block.” Three areas to focus on, he noted, are policy, pipelines, and the advancement of risk mitigation.

Arjun Batra, Lendable, outlined his company’s approach to developing an aggregation platform for consumer and small business lending within “frontier” markets. He said challenges include the lack of infrastructure and risk transparency. He described using his company’s approach to address a lack of transparency, noting the opportunity of leveraging digital payment infrastructure, and using it as a backup-servicing tool.

Stating that “we don’t have to wait, we can start now,” Kidney invited participants to share examples. The ensuing discussion addressed, inter alia: how to support resilience, such as via IRENA’s renewable energy in SIDS initiative; the ‘G20 Energy Efficiency Action Plan’; the importance of standardization; and, how to achieve scale.


Rawleston Moore, GEF, opened the session, saying that the GEF is a committed partner in supporting countries to help meet their reporting obligations. Outlining the ways in which the GEF supports countries, Moore highlighted that through assistance in project implementation and accessing further funding from additional sources, these efforts help “plot the pathway forward for a carbon-neutral future.”

John Christensen, UNEP, speaking on behalf of Ermira Fida, UNEP, drew on the success of countries increasing their communication through national communications (NCs) and biennial update reports (BURs). He underscored reporting as a key aspect of the new “INDC world,” and crucial for the success of the anticipated UNFCCC Paris agreement.

Yamil Bonduki, UNDP, described the collaboration between UNDP, the GEF and UNEP, and emphasized the increasing importance of the role of reporting within the context of INDCs, and the opportunity to expand countries’ NC work.

Damiano Borgogno, UNDP, outlined the work of the Global Support Program (GSP), supporting non-Annex I parties in preparing their NC and BURs. He said the GSP is working with 135 countries on NCs, and 80 countries on BURs, and aims to support countries to overcome institutional and technical barriers, in part by fostering South-South cooperation. Lessons learned, he said, included among others, the need to: establish a national entity that has strong leadership and political support; create capacities at the institutional level within the countries; engage different ministries and other actors; make tools more relevant; build capacity; foster technical rigor; and, move from communications to actions.

Verania Chao, UNDP, then launched a gender toolkit, which aims to support countries in enhancing their NC and BUR reporting to meet the UNFCCC guidance on gender. The toolkit, Chao said, encompasses two sections, “making the case” for gender mainstreaming in the NCs, and tools for integrating gender and climate change. These, she said, cover: rationale to support advocacy; analysis, examples and tools; gender issues by climate change topic; and “how to do it” suggestions.

Borgogno introduced Nguyen Van Anh, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Viet Nam, Lea Kai, Ministry of Environment, Lebanon, Ramón Méndez, Ministry of Housing, Land Planning and Environment, Uruguay, and Daniel Tutu Benefoh, Environmental Protection Agency, Ghana, who shared BUR examples, and GHG data gathering and reporting strategies. Examples included: a national “stakeholder GHG reporting ceremony” that facilitates national data gathering, and marketing of stakeholder initiatives; inter-agency collaboration on GHG reporting; and, national GHG reporting databases.

Further information