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Poor countries gain a voice in Bali

Delegates at the climate change negotiations in Bali have reached a key agreement yesterday that will set the course for how money will be made available to poor countries to help avoid the worst impacts of climate change. The Adaptation Fund is a mechanism being set up under the Kyoto Protocol to address these needs. While it was established by the Protocol and subsequent agreements reached in Marrakech in 2001, governments in Bali are set to agree on how the Adaptation Fund will be governed and managed.

Up until this point, climate change adaptation money has been available through three different international funds, but it has been both too little and too onerous for poor countries to obtain. The agreement on the table in Bali ensures a balanced representation of rich and poor countries, with the Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States holding a seat each.

“Talks about the governance of this fund go to the core of the power dynamics underpinning the UN climate convention. Funding for adaptation must go to the poorest, most vulnerable people and countries, and they should have the biggest say in how it’s governed,” said Antonio Hill, Senior Climate Change Policy Advisor for Oxfam International. “Until now, poor countries have had to play by the rules set by rich countries. With this agreement, the most vulnerable countries will finally get to have a say in doing something about the climate change they’re not even responsible for,” added Hill.

“The far greater challenge lies ahead in the coming days here in Bali and beyond--to provide the fund with enough money to meet the needs of people on the front lines of climate change,” said Hill.

Although a number of developing countries didn’t get what they wanted, which was an entirely new secretariat for the Adaptation Fund, the decision was made to retain the Global Environment Facility (GEF) as the interim secretariat responsible for the programming of the Adaptation Fund. What developing countries have achieved is a far stronger voice on a more powerful governing board. They have also gained a mechanism to hold the GEF accountable for its performance via a three-year review.

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