Climate finance: The route to climate change adaptation and mitigation
For many countries, and particularly Small Island Developing States (SIDS), the funding required to invest in climate resilience is often a lot higher than government budgets allow for. International climate finance is available through multilateral development funds and partners to SIDS for climate change adaptation and mitigation. Governments need to be able to easily access and understand credible, accurate, and up-to-date climate risk data in order to identify which climate resilience projects to prioritise for funding and provide the evidence needed to access international climate finance.
How will IPP CommonSensing help?
IPP CommonSensing is working with the governments of Fiji, Vanuatu, and Solomon Islands to deploy satellite Earth observation and climate datasets and tools which will inform governments and funders to make decisions about where to allocate climate funding. We can access multiple climate indicators over long timeframes, such as temperature, rainfall, wind velocity, and humidity, which will interact differently when applied to different geographies. Socioeconomic parameters add another layer of variability. For governments to prioritise projects for SIDS, data needs to be available at a relevant scale for all the islands within each country, which can mean up to hundreds of individual islands per nation state.
When governments have more complete datasets, they can make better informed decisions and apply for climate finance faster and with better supported arguments. The challenge for the IPP CommonSensing project is to gather all the data that is needed and make them available in formats that make sense to the people who are making these decisions for their regions and countries, bearing in mind that they are unlikely to be experts in interpreting unfamiliar data types with differing scales of measurement. Technical and institutional capacity building and awareness raising are key activities of the project. We are also trying to resolve challenges associated with government silos, where data exists but is not visible to those who need it.
In addition, we are striving to find ways to provide granular data that lets people make decisions – and provide evidence for funding – at a small enough scale to be meaningful. For example, the average rainfall and wind velocity for a region may not indicate any need for intervention, but when studied at a sub-regional level it may become clear that certain communities are more or less at significant risk over the long term due to the predicted effects of climate change. Sub-regional data could also support decisions to apply for funding for projects to enable these communities to adapt by relocation or redesign of certain buildings or infrastructure, or in extreme cases, by moving communities entirely.
The right data can also support communities in rebuilding infrastructure following an extreme weather event, for example, changing the design of a bridge to better withstand future events. Detailed evidence is vital for accessing the funding to undertake projects such as this when resources are scarce and the demand is high.
Adaptation for an uncertain future is vital
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the CommonSensing project in a number of ways, requiring us to adapt our approach to completing it. It has also underscored the importance of adaptation and resilience for all nations in the face of rare events. For example, tourism is a financial lifeline for many countries, especially small island nations, but that economic boost has been decimated by the pandemic with no clear route to recovery. These nations cannot afford for the same thing to happen in the long term due to climate change. Governments can therefore use our tools to seek investment from the private sector to adapt tourism for the future, for the benefit of both parties.
We are striving to create a system that gets used long after the CommonSensing project is finished. We know that data quality and availability is a major challenge that prevents countries from developing credible proposals for climate change projects, but being able to actually use the data is only part of the challenge. Through our links to the Commonwealth’s Climate Finance Access Hub (CCFAH), which helps small and vulnerable states untangle the red tape around climate financing, and secure funding to tackle climate change, we are not only ensuring the tools we provide are fit for purpose but also that the countries involved have the knowledge and skills to use them, now and in the future.