Want to be an Active Advocate?

Want to be an Active Advocate? Join an Event Committee or become a Lead. Get involved! Email us at Chicago@OxfamActionCorps.org


Cancun on the Ground: Poor People Losing Twice

DECEMBER 7, 2010, 12:00 PM via Oxfam Action Corps San Fransisco

On the first day of week two of the UNFCCC climate negotiations, things are busy at the Cancunmesse exhibition hall, which is filled with hundreds of booths staffed by NGO, IGO, and national representatives. Among them are antipoverty development organizations such as OxfamWEDO, and CARE who are calling for the establishment of a fair global climate fund that will meet the needs and rights of the world’s most vulnerable communities. They, and scores of other attendees at the conference, believe that climate change poses an unprecedented threat to poor people who are already struggling to sustain their livelihoods and maintain food security, and that women and other marginalized groups are most vulnerable.

Yesterday afternoon at a press briefing titled Funding the Future organized by Oxfam International, six panelists shared their visions and experiences to help set the path to establish a fair global climate fund by week’s end. Top climate negotiators and ministers responsible for actualizing this goal are in Cancun right now and more are flying in this week. Although the first week of talks seems to have shown a fairly positive spirit and willingness to compromise on the part of many countries, a feeling of trepidation is present that the building pressure to make progress regarding emissions cuts and the Kyoto Protocol may result in insufficient time and energy for agreement on the establishment of a fair climate fund. 

So what is this fund and how is it different from what Tim Gore, International Policy Advisor for Oxfam, calls the “spaghetti bowl of different climate financing channels” that currently exists? Well, as outlined in a letter signed by 215 civil society organizations released today at the press briefing, in order for the fund to be legitimate and effective it must:

  • Be established under the authority of the UNFCCC, a legitimate forum where all countries are represented.
  • Have equitable representation for developing countries on the board and not be donor country dominated.
  • Ensure consideration is given to gender and multicultural balance on the board.
  • Guarantee at least 50 percent of the resources of the fund are channeled to adaptation.
  • Be a one-stop shop with the vast majority of climate financing passing through the fund.
  • Ensure that vulnerable communities, especially women and indigenous populations, participate fully in decisions on uses and monitoring at the national level.
"There's a problem with the current system," explained Gore. "We think that the current arrangements for managing climate finances are really broken. They're not delivering the money to those that need it most and can spend it best."

Cate Owren, Program Director for WEDO, noted that, while climate financing is politically challenging, it should not be economically challenging because investments now save money in the future. She also reiterated that design, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of the fund will be crucial and will help prevent a negative impact on women and marginalized groups. Stories of climate adaptation needs and successes were shared by Alcinda Abreu, Mozambique’s Minister for Coordination of Environmental Affairs. 

The briefing began and ended with the message that the establishment of this fund in Cancun will not only help developing countries adapt to the changing climate and adopt low-carbon development pathways, but also help rebuild trust in the negotiations. While a legally binding climate agreement seems almost certainly not on the cards for this round of negotiations, a fair global climate fund will hopefully produce tangible, concrete outcomes by Friday that addresses the need for both mitigation and adaptation assistance.

First Person: Voices, video, and photos from Oxfam's fight against poverty