The Federal Government said that access to the Green Climate Fund (GCF) by West African countries remained minimal in spite of efforts to meet requirements to access the fund.
The Minister of Environment, Mrs Amina Mohammed, made the remark on Wednesday at the opening of a three-day regional workshop on accessing the GCF, organised by ECOWAS in Abuja.
The GCF is a fund within the framework of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), a mechanism to assist developing countries to adapt and mitigate climate change.
Represented by Mrs Iniobong Abiola-Awe, Assistant director, Department of Climate Change in the ministry, Mohammed expressed concern that the sub-region faced several challenges in accessing the fund.
She stressed the need for member states to be acquainted with the modalities for accessing the fund.
She said “the scourge from the impact of climate in Africa and especially in West Africa is further worsened by the poor state of economic development and low adaptive capacity.
“One of the peculiarities of the GCF is that it is expected to allow recipient countries the modality of direct access to its fund.
“In line with the UNFCCC procedure, recipient countries are expected to put in place certain mandatory structures and strategies termed `GFC Readiness’ before they are able to access the fund for climate financing.”
The minister said Nigeria had begun putting in place its Readiness Plan with the GCF.
According to her, the plan will be a reference document that will state the relevant institutions that will handle the fund in the country.
In an interview with newsmen, Mr Alpha Kaloga, the Regional Advisor Africa, GCF, said that the fund was accessible to recipient countries who met the necessary requirements to access it.
“It is the biggest fund in the climate field and we aim at financing not small isolated projects, but having a programmatic approach with large scale projects that are transformational and can make an impact in the economic trajectory of countries.
“It is at the discretion of each country to select or identify suitable institutions that fit to their needs and come to us with such institutions.
“These institutions have to meet some requirements, environment and social safeguards and have a gender sensitive approach as well.”
Mr Tchambakou Ayasso, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Agriculture, Environment and Water Resources, said that the workshop was expected to build the capacity of member states to develop projects to access the GCF.
Ayasso, who was represented by the Head Division, Environmental Policies and Regulations, Environment Directorate, ECOWAS Commission, Mr Bougonou Djeri-Alassani, said only three member countries had accessed the fund.
The commissioner urged other member countries to coordinate their efforts to meet up with the requirements to access the fund.
He said “all the donors have their guidelines with which we need to comply with to access the funds; this is the opportunity for member states to learn from the advisors from the GCF.
“We (the commission) are going to try and monitor what member states are doing and look out for areas to assist them.
“There is no specific allocation to countries to fund projects; today we have Mali, Senegal and The Gambia that have accessed the funds because they were able to coordinate efforts to access it.
“If member countries do not have the capacity to develop modalities to access the fund, they can reach out to those who can assist,’’ Ayasso said.