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Private sector key, say GCF Latin America Dialogue partners

Bogotá,
The importance of the private sector was a common theme among many of the participants at the recently-concluded GCF Structured Dialogue in Latin America.

Opening the Dialogue on Monday, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos Calderón - a former economist and winner of the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize - emphasised the need for the private and public sectors to work together in developing sustainable solutions to address climate change.

A number of formal and informal discussions during the four-day event pointed to a shared view of the need to draw in the private sector further and to establish examples of climate finance in action.

More demonstrations of how climate finance can work are needed to dispel nagging perceptions by Latin American businesses of it being a risky venture, said Gloria Visconti, lead climate change specialist at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), a GCF Accredited Entity with seven projects approved by the GCF Board. 

"Such perceptions of risk, in addition to a general limited experience about climate finance, mean the Latin American financial system is not yet fully equipped to invest in climate action," she said, adding that IDB is striving to fill this space.

"There is already fertile ground for climate action in Latin America, with a sophisticated level of knowledge and commitment by governments in the region. We now need to address the perceived risks of climate investments by businesses in order to mobilise the private sector at scale."

GCF investment in the region could help produce a "dynamo effect" by easing the access of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) and other organisations embarking on climate measures to credit and other financial instruments, added Ms Visconti.

The first GCF Structured Dialogue to be held Latin America, which opened in Colombia on Monday, was designed to alleviate what many see as a current lag in regional climate investment.

Antonio Garcia, a climate change specialist with the Development Bank of Latin America (CAF), a GCF Accredited Entity with two approved projects, highlighted the need to attract the private sector further in boosting investment in climate change mitigation and adaptation.

"It is necessary to share knowledge about climate finance, such as during the Structured Dialogue, to show that it can be profitable for local financial institutions to take up this new line of business," he said.

"While there is a varying level of advances by Latin American countries in climate change related activities, we need to assure the same level of accessibility to international climate finance resources."

GCF regularly holds Structured Dialogues in different regions of the world to stimulate thinking on how to drive national and regional momentum on climate change mitigation and adaptation, and to improve knowledge of how to access GCF resources.

GCF has already committed close to USD 736 million in climate finance for Latin America, which in turn represents nearly USD 2.7 billion in co-financing.

The Latin American Structured Dialogue has generated discussions among proponents of a low-carbon, climate-resilient economy on how regional governments can work with GCF to find the sweet spots where climate action and business profits meet.