Financing Adaptation or Funding Chaos? Adaptation, Finance, and Philippine Climate Policy

As the world reels from the devastating impacts of climate change, financing sources for climate resilient development are proliferating at a rate and scale that, from initial appearance, may all but surpass traditional flows of official development assistance (ODA). Unfortunately, the scale of resources pledged so far are far from the scale of financing required to meet the needs of developing countries like the Philippines. Worse, most of the pledges remain just that -- pledges virtually written on water, many recycled from previously announced commitments.

Among developing countries, mitigation efforts alone are estimated to cost US$140 to US$175 billion a year over the next 20 years, with associated financing needs of around US$265 to US$565 billion. Adaptation investments are projected to average US$30 to US$100 billion a year over the period 2010-2050. Distressingly, only US$2 billion of the total US$19 billion pledged funds thus far have been deposited into dedicated climate funds, while only US$700 million have been disbursed.

The failure of Copenhagen to deliver a fair, ambitious and binding deal on urgent miti- gation and financing issues, and the threat of another dismal outcome, if not outright collapse, of international climate talks leaves vulnerable developing countries like the Philippines with little choice but to take urgent domestic action. The Philippines must make adaptation to climate change the national imperative. It must ensure that do- mestic policy measures are consistent with such a position.

Currently, governance chaos reigns over the administration of climate finance that has entered the Philippines, along with funds projected or programmed to come from abroad. As the table below shows, this has skewed domestic climate action towards the wrong priorities. More international climate finance has gone to mitigation efforts instead of adaptation activities. Worse, it appears most of the resources allocated for adaptation programs and projects have come in the form of loans. This is contrary to the position championed by the Philippines abroad, which calls for climate finance to be channelled neither as aid nor charity but as compensatory funding in context and by design.

Action based on immediate, near-term and long-term strategies is critical. Measures must address challenges related to selecting regions and communities in the country, that require urgent adaptation support based on mechanisms that ensure effective fund delivery, and fiduciary and transparency requirements that build public trust and ensure participation by civil society organizations and congressional oversight.