GCF Structured Dialogue shows strength and weakness of Asian climate approach
Da Nang, the venue of this year's Asia Dialogue, marks the intersection of Asian economic dynamism and vulnerability which characterise the region's encounter with climate change.
In November last year, this Vietnamese coastal city was preparing to host the region's premier economic gathering of regional leaders in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum when it was hit by deadly Typhoon Damrey, which killed 106. Despite extensive flooding, the APEC summit went ahead and resulted in a series of agreements, some enhancing economic integration based on strong regional growth.
Nguyen The Phuong, Vice Minister of Planning and Investment of Viet Nam, told GCF Structured Dialogue participants earlier this week the devastation of Typhoon Damrey - the 12th major storm to hit Viet Nam in 2017 - emphasised how his country is counted among those which suffer most from climate change.
The Vice Minister, however, remained upbeat about Asian prospects in dealing with climate change. He noted regional efforts, with GCF support, could "significantly influence the quality of the life of hundreds of millions of people."
Emphasising the need for a strong approach to adaptation, GCF Deputy Executive Director Javier Manzanares said it is only fitting the Fund supports regional investments in climate resilience, "with several countries in the region topping the lists of indices for vulnerability to climate change impacts."
A recent assessment by the global bank HSBC found Asian countries top its list of countries most vulnerable to climate change – led by India, Pakistan, the Philippines and Bangladesh.
While acknowledging regional weaknesses, Mr Manzanares also highlighted the potential of Asia's continued strong economic growth to draw on the strengths of business and financial institutions to reduce emissions and enhance adaptive responses to climate change.
"Asia accounts for over a quarter of global GDP and, growing rapidly, there appears to be abundant untapped opportunities for investments in low emissions development - particularly in partnership with the private sector," said Mr Manzanares. "A partnership between private sector, government, and GCF makes business sense, and it makes climate sense," he added.
GCF has committed USD 760 million of its resources to 18 proposals, addressing adaptation and mitigation actions in Asia, leveraging financing of USD 1.2 billion from other partners.
A key goal of the Da Nang event, the second Asia Structured Dialogue after the inaugural April gathering in Bali last year, is to expand GCF support in the region by identifying country priorities which best match the Fund's established investment criteria.
While emphasising the importance of GCF's country-driven approach, GCF Board member Ayman Shasly (from Saudi Arabia) told more than 160 climate practitioners gathered in Da Nang that national climate action and sustainable development are inseparable.
"Everything we do is under the bigger umbrella of sustainable development," he said.
Fellow GCF Board member (alternate) Azimuddin Bin Bahari (from Malaysia) highlighted the strong role Asia can play in promoting global climate action, particularly in REDD+.
"Asia makes up about 20 percent of the world's forested area, so we can see there is huge potential for REDD+," he said, drawing attention to GCF's current call for proposals supporting results-based REDD+ payments.
The Structured Dialogue has provided fertile ground to exchange experiences and explore opportunities of climate action in Asia. GCF staff will study the results of the four days of discussion to further strengthen the impact of GCF investments in the region.