Increasing transparency in climate finance: what role for the UNFCCC NAMA Registry?

Increasing transparency in climate finance: what role for the UNFCCC NAMA Registry?

This piece was written by Charlene Watson of the Overseas Development Institute.

Since 2007, parties to the UNFCCC have been discussing the design of a registry of Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs). This Registry would match developing country actions with possible sources of international financial support. Such a matching function may be difficult to realise, as funders rarely ‘shop’ in such a way for projects, but the emerging NAMA Registry proposal and protocol could improve the transparency of financial support for climate change mitigation.

What value can the registry add?

NAMAs take on many forms, but are broadly defined as a set of country-driven, sustainable development-compatible actions aimed at reducing emissions. The intention of the Registry is to compile developing country NAMAs in order to match them with developed country support through a web-based platform. This support might take the form of technological capacity or assistance, direct mitigation actions, or finance. The Registry has the potential to provide information on developing countries’ climate finance needs and whether such needs are being, or can be, met. Such transparency can foster trust between developed and developing countries in the UNFCCC process to deliver fair and effective outcomes

A number of climate finance tracking initiatives already exist, including our ODI-HBF Climate Funds Update. Climate Funds Update monitors finance from pledge to disbursal in 23 of the dedicated public climate funds and initiatives. Other initiatives track Fast Start Finance, finance for reducing emissions from forestry activities, and climate finance flowing through national budgets. Such initiatives provide crucial data on where climate finance is going and to what activities. They also help monitor whether developed countries are meeting their collective pledges to mobilise US$ 30 billion between 2010 and 2012 and the longer term objective of making available US$ 100 billion a year by 2020.

NAMAs recorded in the Registry won’t necessarily sum to the total cost of mitigation activities in any given country, but will provide one insight into how much and what type of finance is needed by developing country governments. In doing so, the Registry would go beyond other climate finance tracking initiatives.

However, it remains to be seen how the NAMAs already submitted to the UNFCCC (now totalling close to 50), and also recorded in the Ecofys NAMA database, will be integrated in the Registry, as these are not necessarily seeking international financial support. There are also questions about how the Registry will reflect information on finance delivered through other forms, such as through developed countries’ biennial reports on action.

But so far, engagement with the registry has been limited

In August 2012, the UNFCCC Secretariat requested parties to submit NAMAs to be included in a prototype Registry.

Three countries have submitted information on NAMAs seeking preparation support. Mali has requested US$ 40,000 support each for preparation of two NAMAs for energy efficiency and renewable energy, and  forestry, respectively (both note that capacity building and technical support is also needed). Ethiopia has requested US$ 400,000 for support for preparation of an interurban electric rail NAMA. Uruguay’s three requests for sustainable housing, low emission agricultural technology and wind energy NAMAs amount to US$ 1,675,000.

Two NAMAs have been submitted seeking support for implementation: Chile seeks a US$7.5 million grant for implementation of a national forestry and climate change strategy, while Uruguay has requested a US$2 million grant for integrating photovoltaic solar energy into the national grid. Three more NAMAs have been submitted for recognition. All submissions have requested grant finance, and so far the Registry contains information from only four countries.

No submissions on support for NAMAs have been received from developed countries: a sticky issue for recent negotiations in Doha.

Will the Registry be a useful addition to the international climate policy architecture?

Commitments were made in Doha to have a fully operational prototype by April 2013, on which comments will be invited. Participation in the Registry is voluntary and there are minimal requirements from Parties on information submitted. Developed country incentives to engage with the Registry are unclear. Its function in practice as a clearing house for information on NAMAs, and in improving the transparency of climate finance, remains to be seen.

To have any impact in improving the transparency of action and support, greater engagement with the design of the registry is needed. This would ensure that it presents information that helps us understand finance needs and assess the impact of supported programmes. Those institutions and individuals already involved in tracking climate finance may have useful insights to share on these practical challenges.