The Global Environment Facility (GEF) on Monday, November 13, 2017 announced its support for a first of its kind climate resilience investment fund today at the UN Climate Conference (COP23) in Bonn. The fund will boost adaptation efforts in some of the world’s most vulnerable countries. And, for the first time, private investors will have the opportunity to get their return by investing in a fund that exclusively focuses on resilience-related companies.
The fund, an initiative developed by US-based investment firm Lightsmith Group, is receiving support from the GEF Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF) project called the Climate Resilience and Adaptation Finance and Technology Transfer Facility (CRAFT). Other partners include the Nordic Development Fund (NDF) and Conservation International (CI).
Announcing the GEF’s contribution of $1 million, GEF CEO and Chairperson, Naoko Ishii, said “The tide is changing with respect to private sector support for resilience.”
“Our role as a public institution is to share the risks,” she said. “I hope the new equity fund, the first of its kind for the GEF, can serve as an example of how to get more private sector capital into the resilience space.”
CRAFT will invest in companies that provide either “resilience intelligence”, such as data analytics, modeling, and forecasting, or “resilience solutions” including products and services that address climate risks in areas like water, agriculture and energy.
Envisaged areas for investment range from climate-smart supply chain analytics software and drought-tolerant tree crops to coastal protection and disaster recovery.
The Lightsmith Group has developed the concept and will be in charge of executing and managing the fund. Conservation International will be the implementing agency for the GEF project. The NDF has approved financing of €500,000 to partly finance the preparation activities and establishment of CRAFT.
In a press statement, NDF said it would support the Lightsmith Group in bringing the CRAFT concept into execution, by leveraging the extensive experience that NDF has built over the years in the field. “By supporting CRAFT in the early-stage phase, NDF has the opportunity to consolidate its leading role in the context of building the business case of climate adaption and resilience and private sector engagement in developing countries,” said Isabel Leroux, Country Programme Manager at NDF.
“Given their leadership in climate finance, GEF and NDF are ideal partners for this effort to launch the first private sector climate adaptation and resilience investment strategy,” said Sanjay Wagle, Managing Director of The Lightsmith Group. “This funding demonstrates the public sector’s commitment to working with the private sector to address the critical problem of climate change and its recognition of Lightsmith’s unique combination of investment expertise and government experience.”
“Many of the most cost-effective solutions for building resilience to the impacts of climate change come from nature itself. Conservation International, as the GEF Implementing Agency, is pleased to be part of this partnership,” said Shyla Raghav, CI’s Climate Change Lead. “As pressure mounts to find new and innovative sources of climate finance, this effort is a promising and paradigm-shifting approach to scaling up finance for climate change adaptation. It will go a long way to help us start mobilising the resources to finance the needed solutions.”
The new SCCF project, also endorsed by the Climate Innovation Lab, will facilitate the completion of investment, impact, and fundraising strategies for CRAFT, support the identification and incorporation of 250 companies into the Fund’s database of climate resilience companies, and identify at least five high-probability potential investment transactions.
CRAFT could mobilise as much as $500 million to invest in adaptation, acting as a stepping stone towards catalysing a broader market for climate resilience solutions and investments, and provide direct benefits to reduce the vulnerability of businesses and communities through building resilience.
Helping the most vulnerable countries adapt
The SCCF is a fund open to all vulnerable developing countries, and supports a wide range of activities related to climate change. It funds, in addition to adaptation, technology transfer, mitigation in selected sectors including: energy, transport, industry, agriculture, forestry and waste management; and economic diversification.
The SCCF complements the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF), which holds the largest portfolio of adaptation projects in the Least Developed Countries (LDCs). Both are entrenched in the Paris Agreement, and expect to deliver benefits to 25 million people though past and current projects. In 2017, the GEF Council approved $140 million in grant resources from the LDCF for projects in 19 of the poorest countries in the world.
At the opening of the COP23 in Bonn, the German government announced €100 million to support developing countries in climate change adaptation, including 50 million to the LDCF.