Cop28 pact boosts climate funding for war zone recovery

New declaration on climate and war garners wide support for swifter relief for stricken states

International Committee of the Red Cross praise the UAE for highlighting Peace

International Committee of the Red Cross praise the UAE for highlighting Peace
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Cop28 Presidency officials proclaimed a breakthrough for climate-focused support of war zone and fragile states on Sunday, as 70 countries backed a pact on funding for relief and recovery.

Reem Al Hashimy, UAE Minister of State for International Co-operation, launched the Cop28 Declaration on Relief, Recovery and Peace at the summit, where she said peace-building and climate should be on the agenda at every UN climate meeting.

An official in the Cop28 Presidency told reporters that the issues covered in the documents included measures to allow countries to donate quickly to stricken countries.

The backers had reached agreement in areas where consensus in more deadlocked parts of the UN, such as the Security Council, had not been possible.

Among the total of 70 countries that signed up to the pact, which was forged in talks that involved hundreds of organisations in fragile states, dozens had already made specific commitments to new support for failing or low-income states.

Alongside the Relief declaration the Presidency also issued a “Getting Ahead of Disasters Charter” that seeks to build resilience among vulnerable nations to climate-related risks, allowing greater protections to be put in place.

Dave McQueen, head of programme partnerships for Cop28, said support for the measure was broader than expected at the outset and spanned both front-line states as well as major powers

“We were very pleased by the diversity of support from small islands in the Pacific and African countries, in the Horn of Africa and in the Sahel, who have traditionally been the voices behind this topic, and then a broader swath of countries, major countries like China and the US and development finance providers,” he said.

The adviser added the signatories had committed to ensure fragile states are not shut out of international financing.

“And in today's session, a number of the big banks, the donors, the governments themselves, also described the actions that they would take to close the [funding] gap, which could be everything from making procurement easier to building capacity so that governments can receive can absorb and disperse climate money.”

Speaking about the aims of the declaration, Majid Al Suwaidi, the Cop28 director general, cited his recent visit to Kenya where a cross-border refugee camp for the war displaced only had diesel pumps for arterial water supplies. He suggested solar pumps would address both climate pressures and the fundamental needs of the residents.

“People living in extremely fragile states receive a fraction – up to 80 times less – of climate finance compared to those in non-fragile states,” he said.

“The Cop28 Presidency is committed to driving action and consensus to change this.”

International organisations embraced the declaration for recognising that climate challenges in failing states needed a new framework to ensure humanitarian assistance and development aid could start flowing to address local needs.

“Ten years ago you would not have seen organisations such as the World Food Programme, the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs or the International Committee of the Red Cross participate in an international climate change conference,” said Gernot Laganda, climate director of the World Food Programme.

“As a global community, we are only as resilient as our most vulnerable members, people who are trapped in extremely fragile contexts, which are the most vulnerable and risky places to live.”

The initial package of financial, programming and partnerships solutions was also welcomed by the charity Mercy Corps, as it called for donors and investors to raise risk appetites for interventions in warring hotspots.

“Prioritising communities in fragile contexts for climate finance is impossible without a shift in risk appetite of donors for investing in these context,” said Adrianna Hardaway, Mercy Corps senior policy adviser for Climate and Water Security.

“While we recognise the challenges donors face in increasing their risk appetite, we would have liked to see explicit references to this in the declaration.”

Ruqia Abdullah, a Cop28 International Youth Climate delegate from Yemen told the Cop28 summit on Sunday to deliver for Middle East countries like her homeland where 70 per cent of people don't have enough to eat.

“Our generation is the most impacted [by climate change] and we're not seriously addressing the climate issues that we're facing now,” she said.

“I'm here not to present only my voice, but I'm presenting and carrying hopes and fears of my generation. We’re afraid of a future that may be trying to steal our peace.”

Updated: December 04, 2023, 4:16 AM