Experts call for ensuring accountability and transparency in climate adaptation fund
National and international experts today 29 March 2016, urged the governments of climate vulnerable countries to ensure the highest level of integrity, transparency and accountability in the overall management of their respective adaptation funds. ‘Following the Paris Agreement, Bangladesh and other climate-affected countries must work together for building individual and collective capacity to ensure the highest level of integrity, transparency and accountability to offset a range of governance deficits which can adversely affect the adaptation efforts of vulnerable countries’, they said during a day-long deliberation on adaptation financing. Organised by Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB), the ‘Integrity Dialogue on Climate Change Adaptation Finance Transparency: Accountability and Participation’ was held at the Bangabandhu International Conference Center (BICC), where delegates from Australia, Germany, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Malaysia, the Maldives, Nepal, the Netherlands, Sri Lanka and the USA along with reputed national experts deliberated on multi-dimensional aspects of climate finance issues, more particularly climate change adaptation finance. Touching on challenges of defining the word ‘adaptation’, there was a consensus among the panelists that, adaptation to climate change risk is already putting additional strain on development efforts in countries like Bangladesh. The speakers also voiced concern about the absence of concrete and time-bound commitment from the developed countries, meager flow of grant-based public fund, mal-adaptation or non- consideration of the local climate risks in adaptation projects and programmes and non-disclosure of project-related information. Other areas of concern included the inadequate participation of local communities in adaptation planning and monitoring of the implementation projects, absence of meaningful grievance redress system and complicated finance and accounting system. The speakers unanimously agreed that climate change funds are not free from governance weaknesses. As many cases of irregularities in the planning and implementation phases of climate projects have already come under spotlight, it is now high time for precautionary action worldwide, they said. The speakers also highlighted that there should be transparency and accountability on the part of developed countries. They also urged the developed countries to fully implement their commitment abiding by the polluters pay principle where the affected developing countries would get climate finance as grant and not as loan. They also suggested using digital technology for disclosure of climate finance-related information to ensure transparency and accountability of all stakeholders. Chief Guest of the concluding session Mr. Masud Ahmed, Comptroller and Auditor General of Bangladesh acknowledged that while it will take a while to reach the international standard, his office has so far successfully audited more than hundred climate projects. Dr. Ahsan Uddin Ahmed, Technical Adviser, Green Climate Fund and Executive Director of Centre for Global Change (CGC) also spoke in the concluding session as one of the Guests of Honour. Inaugurating the dialogue in the morning session, Dr. Iftekharuzzaman, Executive Director of TIB said some 27 million people of Bangladesh are likely to be displaced as a result of severe climate change affects in the near future. He said TIB is keen to ensure that proper action is taken to shield climate finance are free from governance deficits. Dr. Saleemul Huq, Director, International Center for Climate Change and Development, Dr. Fazle Rabbi Sadek, Member, Bangladesh Delegation to COP-21 and Coordinator Community Climate Change Project, PKSF and Mr. Alpha Kaloga, Lead Analyst, Adaptation Fund NGO Network spoke in the first technical session on ‘Scope and Challenges in Adaptation Finance – Sustained Flow of Fund after the Paris Agreement,’ moderated by Professor Dr. Sumaiya Khair, TIB's Deputy Executive Director. The session on Transparency, Accountability and Participation in Adaptation Finance: Developed Country Perspective was moderated by Ms. Annaka Peterson Carvalho, Senior Program Officer, Oxfam America. Emeritus Professor Ainun Nishat, Centre for Climate Change and Environmental Research of BRAC University, Dr. Timothy Mark Cadman, Research Fellow, Institute for Ethics, Governance and Law, Griffith University, Australia, Mr. Sanjoy Vashisht, Director, Climate Action Network in South Asia (CANSA) from India and M. Zakir Hossain Khan, Senior Program Manager, Climate Finance Governance of TIB also spoke. Mizan R. Khan, Professor, Department of Environmental Science and Management, North South University, Dhaka, Dr. A.K. Enamul Haque, Professor, Department of Economics, East West University, Dhaka, Bjoern Surborg, PhD, Climate Finance Governance Project, Principal Adviser, GIZ Office Bangladesh and Mr. Ian Tellam of Adaptify, Netherland spoke in the session on the ‘Developing Country Perspectives on Climate Adaptation Fund,’ moderated by Dr. A. Atiq Rahman, Executive Director, Bangladesh Center for Advance Studies. It may be mentioned here that adaptation fund is one of the seven major pots created under various international cooperation frameworks to fight against effects of climate change worldwide. TIB is the front-runner in the climate finance governance research and advocacy in Bangladesh since 2011 for ensuring integrity, transparency, accountability and participation in all types of climate funds in Bangladesh.