Bank Sees Durban Conference Making Progress on Climate Agenda

December 12, 2011

The two-week UN conference on climate change in Durban ended Sunday with agreement by all countries to adopt a universal legal agreement on climate change by 2015. At the same time, countries recognized the urgent need to do more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help developing countries adapt to the inevitable impact of climate change.

" We are particularly pleased to see progress on the creation of a Green Climate Fund. We will remain focused on mobilizing funds from all sources and in partnership to finance the kind of development projects that help the poor grow their way out of poverty, increase their resilience to climate change, and achieve emissions reductions. "

Rachel Kyte

Vice President, Sustainable Development, The World Bank.

World Bank Group officials expressed cautious satisfaction at the progress made in connecting development outcomes with climate action. Rachel Kyte, Vice President for Sustainable Development, said “We are particularly pleased to see progress on the creation of a Green Climate Fund. We will remain focused on mobilizing funds from all sources and in partnership to finance the kind of development projects that help the poor grow their way out of poverty, increase their resilience to climate change, and achieve emissions reductions.”

Kyte also noted that “the agreements in Durban marked another step forward, but lacked the necessary ambition to support development for the poor in a world where climate change is shaping the options available to them. That said, we will continue to support our clients as they move towards greener paths of growth, developing low emissions development plans, and finding the triple win of increasing agricultural production and incomes for those working in agriculture (especially in Africa), increasing the climate resilience of agriculture and forests, and mitigating emissions from the landscape.”

Led by Managing Director Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Bank Group participation in the Durban climate change conference spanned a range of activities, from taking part in high-level panel discussions to launching new initiatives designed to bolster international climate action.

In addition to speaking at events on sustainable energy, biodiversity and China, Indrawati also met with President Zuma and a host of other government ministers including a delegation from the small island developing states. She joined former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and other ministers from several countries to promote the cause of action on agriculture in Africa. She also signed a financing agreement for Morocco’s concentrated solar program.

Added Andrew Steer, World Bank Special Envoy for Climate Change, “Across a myriad of events and issues, the Bank used its presence in Durban to support action on the ground, demonstrate that success is possible, and inform the negotiations with lessons learned. "

"Our presence helped move forward important agendas on issues ranging from climate finance to energy access and climate smart agriculture,” Steer continued. “Through our participation, the Bank has reinforced its position as a truly effective global player on development and climate change."

Agriculture and Forest Day

Kyte had begun her conference activities by addressing Agriculture and Rural Development Day. In a blog post she said the day was “an inspiring showcase of climate-smart agriculture in action demonstrating just how much we know already. The emphasis across the learning events was on building resilience of smallholders touching on everything from strengthening access to markets, access to carbon finance to innovative water harvesting techniques.”

Speaking subsequently at Forest Day, Kyte talked about the need to address access to land and extreme poverty. “You cannot protect forests if people are hungry”, she said.

In a blog post after that event, she noted that “Now that we all agree on an integrated approach to forestry and agriculture (landscape management), it may be time to root for an integrated approach to climate change action: Adaptation-based mitigation is a no-regrets option.”

Business Day

Moving on to Business Day, Kyte encouraged private sector actors to take strong action in partnering with government agencies to understand the risks arising from climate change, and to develop long-term adaptation strategies.

Also speaking during Business Day, Andrew Steer noted the variety of current actions to address climate change. He called for tripling the number of initiatives and the level of action. Steer stated that “greening” an economy is an incremental process and underlined that the role of public funding is to leverage private sector support.

Climate-Smart Agriculture – Africa: A Call to Action

At a high level event organized with the African Union, and South Africa, Indrawati presented the policy brief “Climate-Smart Agriculture Africa: A Call to Action”, stressing that food security, poverty, and climate change are closely linked – and therefore any work on climate action must take all three into account.

Sitting alongside President Zuma, Kofi Annan, Prime Minister Meles and Jean Ping, AU Chairman, Indrawati said that improving Africa’s performance is the most powerful tool to reduce world poverty and hunger, and she urged continued efforts to invest in agriculture and rural development.

High-Level Debate on Energy Access in Africa

Indrawati also attended a high-level event focused on energy access in Africa. Sitting alongside the heads of UNDP and UNIDO and energy ministers from South Africa and Mozambiue, Indrawati said “Lack of electricity undermines growth and poverty reduction. It limits industry and productive activity, setting back competitiveness and job creation.”

Other Initiatives Launched in Durban

In Durban, the World Bank launched an “Apps for Climate” competition in search of innovative software applications that can help solve some of the development problems that climate change poses.

Also released was the latest edition of the World Bank’s “Little Data Book on Climate Change,” providing summary national, international, and regional data that cover the gamut of climate-relevant topics.

Together with four other Multilateral Development Banks, the World Bank announced a new partnership to better coordinate and deepen support to cities in adapting to and mitigating climate change.

To help the least-developed countries access financing for low-carbon investments and enable them to tap into carbon markets after 2012, the World Bank launched two new financial initiatives – the Carbon Initiative for Development (Ci-Dev) and the third tranche of the BioCarbon Fund.

Additional funding for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) was announced. This will support the SIDS-DOCK partnership, an initiative launched at the 2010 UN climate conference in Cancun. “The SIDS DOCK partnership will not only help increase energy independence and build resilience for these nations, but it will also allow them to lead – to demonstrate innovative mitigation strategies in the face of resource constraints,” said Andrew Steer.

Among other activities linked to the work of the World Bank, the Connect4Climate team announced winners of its competition to get African youth to contribute to the climate solutions of tomorrow.

Additional events promoted by the Bank team in Durban covered our work on oceans, disaster risk financing, the climate investment funds, adaptation, low carbon growth and gender and climate change.