Funke Oyewole introduces visitors to the CIF and listens to their inquires and ideas at the 10th Carbon Expo in Barcelona, Spain on May 28-31. (Photo: CIF AU)
“What do you do, and how can you help us do what we do?” That was the recurring question from visitors to the Climate Investment Funds’ (CIF) booth at the 10th Carbon Expo last week in Barcelona, Spain from May 28-31. The first forum of the UNFCCC’s Standing Committee on Financebrought us to town, but we stayed to take advantage of the proceeding expo to introduce the CIF to a wider audience. Considered the leading global platform for dialogue between climate finance and carbon markets, industry, and technology, the Carbon Expo was a perfect opportunity for the CIF to reach out to new partners and start some new conversations.
And that we did. Over three days, approximately 100 people visited the CIF booth and engaged directly with us, while still more browsed our colorful exhibit. Consulting firms stopped by interested in exploring business prospects. Social entrepreneurs were looking for funding. International companies sought procurement opportunities. Government representatives from developing nations not involved currently in the CIF asked how they could join. Academics requested information on CIF lessons learned. Even our multilateral development bank partners, including the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, came by to see what was new.
All were looking for new and different approaches, mechanisms, and markets to expand low carbon growth, and many saw the CIF mitigation programs—the Clean Technology Fund(CTF), the Forest Investment Program(FIP), and the Program for Scaling Up Renewable Energy in Low Income Countries(SREP)—as a possible conduit for innovation. Carbon markets alone, especially in their current state of disarray, cannot propel the global mitigation effort needed to achieve a consolidated low-carbon energy system by 2050. They have to be a part of a broader suite of financial instruments that will provide an incentive to mobilize increasingly higher levels of capital into low carbon infrastructure. These realities did not, however, stop some participants at the Expo from exploring the CIF’s programmatic approaches and interventions at scale. If anything, these discussions helped to establish clearly the need for injecting new innovative thinking in the climate finance landscape.
The CIF is part of this climate finance landscape, and we told all these visitors about the CIF’s own brand of innovation in fostering a programmatic approach to low carbon, climate resilient development. We explained how CIF concessional financing is building private investor confidence in middle and low income countries by supporting government policies and reforms conducive to climate-smart business. We showed how the CIF is catalyzing investments and attracting significant co-financing by supporting risky upfront costs of tested-but-young climate approaches and technologies at a scale never before affordable. We discussed how the lessons being learned on the ground by our 49 pilot countries are shaping the CIF’s way forward, as well as that of the Green Climate Fund.
Engaging the private sector is central to the CIF’s success, and visitors were keen to learn more about opportunities to participate, especially through the CIF’s open call for innovative project proposals that engage the private sector in REDD+, climate resilience, and renewable energy in the pilot countries of the FIP, the Pilot Program for Climate Resilience (PPCR), and the SREP. Over $200 million has been set aside in these three funding windows for this competition, and deadlines are fast approaching in August 2013.
The energy at the Carbon Expo was high, and the mood enterprising. The feeling lingers as we follow up with phone calls and emails to continue the conversations we began in Barcelona. We are not certain where it will all lead, but the CIF is steadfast in its goal to scale up climate finance and knowledge.