Maldives is a place of unique natural beauty – more than 1,100 tiny islands scattered in a sea of turquoise blue. But the geography that makes this country so beautiful also makes it ground zero for the impacts of seal level rise brought about by climate change. Eighty percent of the country’s land mass is less than one meter above mean sea level, and no ground surface is higher than three meters.

Aware of its many challenges, the government of Maldives has been a global leader in prioritizing climate change as a key development concern. While it is not surprising that Maldives has been raising the alarm about the threats of climate change (including its famous cabinet meeting under water in October 2009), what is truly remarkable is that it was the first country in the world to declare a goal of becoming carbon neutral.

The Climate Investment Funds’ (CIF) Program for Scaling up Renewable Energy in Low Income Countries (SREP) is helping Maldives to achieve this goal. Maldives’ $30 million SREP investment plan has become the centerpiece of the country’s efforts to attract private investment for renewable energy. And as hosts of the fifth meeting of the SREP pilot countries on May 28-30, the Maldivian delegates were as eager to share their dedication and know-how as they were to learn from other countries on effective policies, tools, and instruments for mitigating the effects of climate change through renewable energy.

More than 40 representatives from 12 SREP countries attended the meeting, including six countries with investment plans already endorsed and projects under development. Like its fellow pilots, the Maldives was teacher and student as the group exchanged progress updates and delved into the nitty-gritty of challenges ranging from improving enabling environments for renewable energy investment to scaling up renewable energy for rural and remote communities.

In an “ask the expert” session, delegates from countries that are now going through the process of preparing SREP investment plans picked the brains of their peers who have already successfully navigated this process, seeking guidance on issues such as prioritizing renewable energy technologies for funding and mobilizing co-financing from other partners. At the end of this session, the delegation from Tanzania was already making plans to conduct a study visit to Kenya to learn from their recent experience in geothermal development.

These face-to-face meetings offer a unique platform for peer countries to exchange lessons that are directly relevant to the implementation of their SREP investment plans and projects. Everyone comes away with a better understanding of what works, what doesn’t, and what still needs to be done. It is not only the SREP countries that meet; pilot countries participating in all four of the CIF programs meet about once every nine months and engage in similar discussions. In fact, earlier in May the PPCR pilots came together for their seventh PPCR pilot countries meeting with a focus on developing effective systems for monitoring and reporting progress in achieving climate resilient development.   

The pilot countries meetings are a cornerstone of the CIF mandate to generate and disseminate knowledge, not just financing. They provide an unparalleled platform for learning and cross-fertilization of knowledge among pilots, MDBs, and other stakeholders. They work because countries come prepared to share and listen and speak candidly about their successes and challenges. And it’s not just the pilot countries that stand to benefit. With more countries interested in participating in the CIF —and climate-smart development in general—communicating effectively our lessons and results is essential to mobilizing additional financial support for low carbon, climate resilient investments worldwide.

For more information, please contact:

Shaanti Kapila

Coordinator of the Global Support Program

Climate Investment Funds

skapila@worldbank.org