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Hub manager reveals vision for climate finance in the Commonwealth

18 November 2016

In September this year, the Commonwealth Finance Access Hub opened its doors. This week at the UN’s international climate change conference, COP22, the Commonwealth advocated for the initiative to play a critical role in helping counties access funding for innovative climate action.

Hub manager, Bilal Anwar speaks about the importance of the hub and his vision for its impact

What is it about climate change that makes it one of your passions?

Professionally I consider myself a climate policy practitioner who passionately believes in the criticality of climate change as one of the gravest threats to human civilisation. I also believe the most viable approach to addressing this issue is through global collaboration that ensures everyone plays a role.

I have been a climate change expert for the last sixteen years. I began my career with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change secretariat in Bonn, Germany back in 2000. I was part of the team that supported the initial inter-governmental negotiations of Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and subsequently worked on its implementation for a decade. The CDM paved the way for the development of thousands of carbon reduction and sustainable development projects globally and the emergence of the global carbon market. During this period, I was deeply involved in developing the regulatory system of CDM. I also led the CDM capacity building program and developed its accreditation mechanism.

In between I was involved in the development of several climate change projects, both on mitigation and adaptation, in several parts of the world. Before taking this role, I was managing a climate change research organization, Center for Climate Research and Development, in Islamabad, Pakistan.

Why is this initiative important for the Commonwealth? 

I believe this is a timely and unique initiative by The Commonwealth, aimed at unlocking the potential for international climate finance for the most deserving and vulnerable group of countries.

The Commonwealth, in many ways, is a unique club of countries. While it includes some of the highly developed economies of the world, the majority of it its members are developing small states and island nations which are highly vulnerable to the present and future adverse impacts of climate change. This diversity is a unique opportunity for mutually driven cooperation, the institutional strength of the Commonwealth allows us to facilitate access to the international climate finance infrastructure. 

Currently, developing states are losing out on a great share of available climate finance resource due to their lack of capacity.  Against this backdrop, it is extremely important for the Commonwealth to be a handholding institution, to help these countries design appropriate projects and seek out funding to make them a reality.

Additionally, a number of apparent knowledge and policy gaps can be addressed through the Commonwealth’s ongoing development assistance programs. Ultimately the hub will help countries mainstream climate change into national development planning processes and access the required funding from international sources for innovative climate action.

What is your message for Commonwealth leaders who are worried about the impact of climate change?

This worry is certainly justified. Scientific evidence has settled the debate on climate change. It is now established that it will result in a devastating combination of adverse impacts on the under-developed regions of the world. If we do not take timely and resolute action climate change adaption and mitigation will be much more difficult and costly.

It is therefore reassuring to see that Commonwealth leaders have placed climate change at the top of their political priorities. It is important to acknowledge that Commonwealth aspirations to tackle poverty and advance human development can best be achieved through an integrated development planning process, where climate compatible economic growth and social development can reduce the vulnerability of the poor and expand opportunities for sustainable livelihoods.

Although this fact has long been recognised, the missing link has been the capacity and access to the required quantum of finance. The Hub has been designed to address both of these challenges and I would like to reassure Commonwealth leaders that no stone will be left unturned in achieving its established objectives.     

What is your vision for the Hub?

I envision the Hub evolving into an entity that offers its services through an expanded network, which facilitates cooperation between developing members to build their capacity to access international sources of climate finance. To do so, the Hub will help countries create bespoke national projects and programmes which are eligible for climate finance.

I foresee the Hub becoming recognised as one of the leading intermediary entities of the world in facilitating access to climate finance. My vision is also for it to act as an extended arm of leading climate finance institutions, such as the Green Climate Fund, supporting their objectives to promote low emissions development strategies.

More information on the Commonwealth's climate action work

Learn more about the Commonwealth's engagement at COP22