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: Bilal Anwar presents the Climate Finance Access Hub at the COP24 climate summit, alongside some of the CFAH team of advisers

Bilal Anwar, General Manager of the Climate Finance Access Hub shares his insights into the benefits of the Hub

Ask the Expert: COP24 and Climate Finance in the Commonwealth

13 December 2018
The ‘Ask The Expert’ series features the leading specialists who work at the Commonwealth Secretariat or on key Commonwealth programmes. In this edition, Bilal Anwar, General Manager of the Climate Finance Access Hub shares insights on how the Commonwealth is delivering climate finance to help communities tackle the impacts of climate change. He spoke from the UN Climate Change Conference, COP24, in Katowice, Poland.

What is the Climate Finance Access Hub (CFAH) and how does it help Commonwealth countries achieve their climate ambitions?

The CFAH is the initiative by the Commonwealth to support the climatically-vulnerable countries of the Commonwealth in building their technical capacities and improving the flow of finance for projects to address climate change. Under its long-term technical assistance programme, experts are embedded in national ministries, assisting them to translate their climate ambitions into actions, and mobilise the climate finance required to implement projects. 

What makes CFAH unique innovative is that at it is country-driven, and the technical assistance we provide helps to fill the capacity gaps and strengthen national institutions, along with development and structuring of mitigation and adaptation projects. And that's why in the short period of its operational life, the demand for CFAH services is high and we have been able make some remarkable progress. The CFAH has an active technical assistance programme in eight countries and already mobilised £4.1 million with another £207 million in the pipeline.          

You have attended the UN Climate Change Conference in various capacities for many years. From the first Conference of the Parties (COP) meeting you attended, to the current COP24 in Katowice, what are some key trends you see in terms of climate finance?

Finance has always been high on the agenda of the all the COPs and one of the stickiest and most heatedly-debated item in the international negotiations. The International Climate Change Convention - in its Article 4 - recognises the need for additional financial resources for developing countries and obliges developed countries to provide these financial resources. Since then, we have seen the demand for developing countries to provide adequate finance for climate action growing. These demands peaked at COP 15 in Copenhagen when Parties made the commitment to provide USD $100 billion per annum from through Green Climate Fund and other financial mechanisms.

Although the magnitude of climate finance has remarkably increased over the years, the fact remains that the amount of finance required for developing countries is still below the expectations and commitments. As a result, we are seeing climate finance as one of the stumbling blocks in the negotiations in Katowice. Developing countries justifiably want the commitments to be fully honoured as well as have mechanisms in place for provision of adequate and additional finance under the Paris Agreement.    


Billions worth of climate finance has been pledged to developing countries. However, not all funds get drawn down and translated into worthwhile projects. What is the biggest challenge, especially for small and vulnerable economies, in terms of accessing and using climate funds provided by donors?

It is true that billions of dollars of climate finance are pledged but it is also correct that not all pledges are translated into funds and furthermore funds become readily available and accessible by the countries who are in desperate need. First of all, we need to understand and recognise there is short-fall between the demand and supply for climate finance. With the increasing need for climate action, the short-fall is bound to expand. 

Over the years, international climate finance institutional and regulatory infrastructure has grown extremely complex, making it disadvantageous for small and vulnerable countries to access finance. These countries lack the necessary competencies to design and implement mitigation and adaptation projects that comply with the complex regulatory and financial requirements of the international requirements. Therefore, a large number of most deserving and climatically front-line states are not able to access these funds. Therefore, the CFAH has come up with the programme to assist such small and vulnerable economies by building their capacities for identifying projects in the key sectors of their economies and help them in structuring finance.