Traditional fishing boat from above

A challenging year for the world

The pandemic as a starting-point for more climate action and biodiversity conservation. An excerpt from the activities by the International Climate Initiative (IKI) in the 2020 ‘Pandemic Year’.

For many years now, the global community has faced a huge set of challenges due to the climate crisis and the loss of biodiversity. The coronavirus pandemic that started in early 2020 nonetheless threatened to overshadow both of these issues. Yet these two kinds of crisis are closely intertwined: the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 to humans is a direct consequence of the ways in which people exploit basic natural resources, with the effect of changing or even destroying ecosystems. ­

The coronavirus pandemic has made it painfully clear that protecting the planet is critical for all life – and that action on climate and biodiversity is not something for a far-flung future but is needed every day, here and now.

A rapid reaction to the crisis: the IKI Corona Response Package

Due to the pandemic, developing and emerging countries in particular were forced to reallocate their sparse funds for climate and conservation efforts to their healthcare systems. In 2020, governments worldwide started putting together huge recovery packages aimed at countering the adverse effects of the pandemic by saving jobs and keeping businesses afloat. All over the world, initiatives and funding programmes were launched with the aim of combining this economic revival with a sustainable recovery. The objective was therefore to anchor climate action and biodiversity conservation as basic aspects of national and global policy, and to avoid the threat of long decades of dependence on fossil technologies and environmental damage due to the continued use of traditional subsidy structures.

The Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) therefore worked with the International Climate Initiative to develop the Corona Response Package as a pandemic countermeasure for 2020. The Package helps IKI partner countries to mount a targeted and concerted response to the challenges of the pandemic, climate change and biodiversity loss. The package focuses on three corresponding key areas: first, emergency measures to protect nature reserves and biodiversity hotspots; second, support for a sustainable Green Economic Recovery; and third, preventive measures that aim to avoid future pandemics. A total of 28 selected projects and initiatives in 25 countries received additional funding and expanded remits from the Corona Response Package, with one new project also being approved. One aim was to safeguard existing social structures while strengthening the effects of projects on the labour market. A further goal was to improve and accelerate the transition to a climate- and biodiversity-friendly economy at a number of different levels. The package of measures was allocated a budget of 68 million euros.

Local and indigenous communities

Global biodiversity conservation can be successful only by involving local communities and indigenous peoples. In 45 countries, the project supports these populations while preserving their traditional territories. The project also offers a small-scale project fund and uses capacity building to empower communities to manage protected areas. The project is also working towards greater involvement of indigenous, local expertise in public planning processes.

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Making financial flows Paris-compatible

To ensure the goals of the Paris Agreement can be met, the global financial system needs to be restructured to secure an increasing volume of investment in the low-carbon economy. The Paris Agreement Capital Transition Assessment Tool developed by this project models the risks involved in low-carbon investment. During the pandemic, further improvements were made to the tool that have now made it compatible with Green Recovery programmes.

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How IKI is helping to power the Green Recovery

A total of 16 ongoing IKI projects characterised by their especially positive economic effects received top-up funding from the Corona Response Package. A further nine projects were re­­adjusted to focus on steps designed to facilitate a Green Recovery. These projects are prioritising topics such as energy efficiency, renewable energy sources, urban development and the mobilisation of sustainable investment.

In June 2020, the BMU also participated via the IKI in the Economic Advisory Initiative formed by the NDC Partnership. The initiative responds to requests from developing and emerging countries for economic advisers, who work to integrate efforts to implement national climate targets and conserve biodiversity during the coronavirus pandemic with economic recovery planning. The IKI is financing 20 advisers in eight countries. Globally, more than 50 of these experts are funded in 34 countries by different donors within the context of the Economic Advisory Initiative. The IKI has also utilised an OECD project to extend the scope of the NDCP and in so doing, to support the deployment of advisors to four more countries. As part of the Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE), additional support is being offered in 20 countries for sustainable economic packages and transition pathways.

One Health approach to protected areas

Protecting ecosystems not only conserves biodiversity but also improves adaptation to climate change impacts for local communities. Together with the IUCN Green List, this project developed a global management standard for protected areas, which was augmented by the One Health approach in response to the pandemic. The project is also distributing a global portfolio of case studies that documents successful management practices.

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Climate-resilient urban planning

Adaptation to the impacts of climate change is essential for cities in the Philippines. This project is advising the partner government on suitable policymaking measures and sustainable urban development planning. Model activities in five cities are helping to gain and implement new insights. The consulting portfolio has also been expanded to include climate and disaster risk assessment while accounting for the coronavirus pandemic.

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Funding priorities for the Green Recovery

Apart from these measures, IKI also utilised the different selection procedures started in 2020 to respond to the novel crisis. The idea of a sustainable restart was consciously applied to the 2020 thematic selection procedure, with preference given to eco-friendly, climate-compatible approaches to recovery alongside those tackling the social and economic fallout from the pandemic. The second ideas competition for the IKI Medium Grants, which started in 2020, was also oriented on coronavirus impacts. A key point of focus here was strengthening the resilience of local and indigenous population groups in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.

NAMA Facility Ambition Initiative launched

Also in 2020, IKI started a special funding programme for the NAMA Facility (Nationally ­Appropriate Mitigation Action), targeting countries with especially ambitious plans for climate change mitigation. Germany approved IKI funds amounting to 100 million euros for this Ambition Initiative. The United Kingdom and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation also contributed the sums of 68 million euros and 4 million euros, respectively. The Ambition Initiative provides support solely to projects in countries who have made a commitment to increase their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) prior to the 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26).

IKI helps to encourage greater ambition for NDCs

Alongside the Ambition Initiative, a series of other IKI projects helped to strengthen ambitions for climate change mitigation in several partner countries during the course of 2020. These projects provided direct support to partner governments in the preparation and submission of improved NDCs or promoted the drafting of relevant climate policies and legislation as well as the of implementation ambitious targets. Project partner work included close collaboration with the NDC Partnership and activities relating to the Climate Action Enhancement Package (CAEP). Examples of IKI projects that successfully contributed to an increase in climate change mitigation ambitions in 2020 include the Support Project for the Implementation of the Paris Agreement (SPA), the Tracking and Strengthening Climate Action (TASCA) project, the IMPACT project and the NDC Support Programme (NDC SP). In the case of the NDC SP, this programme is supporting 37 countries in their efforts to use NDCs as an instrument for the transition to climate-friendly, zero-carbon pathways. Work in the TASCA and the IMPACT projects has, for example, helped Ethiopia and Nepal to submit more ambitious NDCs. IKI interface projects also took part in efforts to achieve more ambitious NDCs in many different countries during the course of 2020.

Overall, IKI made a decisive contribution to a wide range of achievements in international climate and biodiversity policy in 2020, demonstrating that efforts to manage the pandemic and stimulate a sustainable recovery can be implemented hand in hand.

Alliance for forest landscapes

Forest Landscape restoration (FLR) makes an important contribution to Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). During the course of the pandemic, the project set up an FLR alliance in Paraguay that promotes FLR activities. A centre of excellence is also being established to improve the implementation of these measures, as well as a labour market platform aimed at hiring experts for FLR activities.

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Solar-powered ice makers

The expansion of renewable energy is a key component of the Indonesian Government’s strategy to achieve its mitigation targets. This project is helping the government to implement a strategy for the rollout of renewables, the benefits of which will be demonstrated by pilot projects. Such pilot projects include the introduction of a solar-powered ice maker as well as the use of agricultural waste as an input for biogas production.

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