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Arab forum helps unlock climate finance for region’s energy, water, food security

The fourth of five Regional Finance Forums concluded in Beirut, Lebanon, on Thursday, September 15, 2022, with a focus on ushering in a wave of climate finance among Arab States.

Arab Regional Finance Forum
Opening session of the Arab Regional Finance Forum in Beirut, Lebanon

Hosted by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), the Egyptian Presidency of COP27 and the UN Climate Change High-Level Champions, the forum convened a variety of stakeholders from both the private and public sector in the Arab region. Discussions, related to accelerating climate finance, against a backdrop of the world is facing unprecedented but interconnected crises, which are moving people further into poverty and away from the Sustainable Development Goals.

Countries and communities who contribute the least to the climate crisis are disproportionately affected, with the least resources to adapt. As a result, the five Regional Finance Forums have presented 71 climate finance projects across Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia Pacific and Western Asia so far. Some 28 were presented in Beirut for Western Asia, representing a total investment of around $4.7 billion. Of this, around $4 billion in investment is for climate adaptation and resilience, around $600 million in investment for climate mitigation, and around $60 million for mitigation, and adaptation and resilience.

Mobilisation of this finance is a key opportunity for collaboration, through blended finance by the private and public sector with bilateral support. Ambassador Sameh Shoukry, Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs and COP27 President-Designate, has reiterated the importance of collaboration to combat climate change.

With 50 days to go for COP27, Shoukry explained: “Government, the private sector, and philanthropy all play key roles in unlocking the climate financing necessary for the mitigation and adaptation plans needed to hold back the impact of climate change and save countless lives and livelihoods across the world.

“With recent reports highlighting the disproportionate impact of climate change on the MENA region there can be no backsliding or backtracking on prior commitments. We know what needs to be done to address the challenge, but we must now be clear on how it is funded and move from ambition to action.”

With the goal of accelerating climate finance for, among other things, access to clean energy, energy efficiency technologies and water and food security, several projects and initiatives from a wide range of sectors – from agriculture to transport – were presented.

For example, on the Lebanese project on “Forest Fire Prevention, Forest Management, Resilience and Reducing Wildfire Hazard in Nahr El Kabir”, Nasser Yassin, Ministry of Environment for Lebanon, explained that they would promote the sustainable use of natural resources, restore degraded landscapes, and increase Lebanon’s forest cover while meeting the ecological, social and economic needs of sustainable forest management.

In order to accelerate the implementation of climate finance in Western Asia, institutional investors, private sector financiers and development partners with governments discussed the co-creation of investment opportunities in support of regional priority actions.

In this context, Mahmoud Mohieldin, UN Climate Change High-Level Champion for Egypt, said: “Climate finance is currently ‘insufficient’ because we need double the current amount of financing and ‘inefficient’ because it takes too long to be negotiated until it reaches actual implementation. There is injustice because the most climate vulnerable countries are asked to pay for a crisis that they did not contribute to it, and they get the little share of the finance to achieve their climate goals.”

The cooperation between Arab States and non-state actors in Western Asia shows that we can find the solutions necessary to accelerate climate action, and overcome obstacles through the effective and applicable regional projects mobilised through finance to achieve both near term climate targets and implement the Paris Agreement.

The final Forum will take place in Geneva, Switzerland on October 17, 2922.

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