SANBI accredited as National Implementing Entity for UN Convention on Climate Change Adaptation Fund

09 September 2011

The South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) is proud to announce that it has been accredited as a National Implementing Entity (NIE) for the recently established Adaptation Fund of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

What is the Adaptation Fund?

The Adaptation Fund is a global fund established by countries party to the UNFCCC's Kyoto Protocol, in order to fund adaptation projects and programmes in developing countries that are signatories to the Protocol. The Fund is financed from a 2% levy on Certified Emission Reduction issued for projects of the Clean Development Mechanism, and other sources of funding such as direct contributions. South Africa will now join four developing countries that already have accredited NIEs (Jamaica, Uruguay, Senegal and Benin) and is the third NIE in Africa.

What does this mean for SANBI and for South Africa?

The Adaptation Fund will finance projects and programmes whose principal and explicit aim is to improve society's ability to adapt and cope with the risks posed by climate change. As a country that is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, this signals an important moment in South Africa's history for securing the funds needed to plan our development trajectory in a way that is responsive to climate change. The Fund will ensure concrete projects will be funded nation-wide, providing much needed support for the ever increasing list of climate change risks faced by South African communities.

Accessing funding from the Adaptation Fund has the unique feature of direct access, unprecedented for an environmental financial mechanism, through which developing countries can apply for resources without the intermediation of multilateral development institutions. National Implementing Entities are the key bodies that will facilitate this direct access, with SANBI now responsible for this role in South Africa, in conjunction with South Africa's Designated Authority, the Department of Environmental Affairs.

Climate change adaptation is at the forefront of South Africa's National Climate Change Response Strategy as a means to:

  • ensure food and water security;
  • reduce the incidence and vulnerability of communities to natural disasters;
  • protect the integrity of our ecosystems and the services they provide to all South Africa's people; and
  • ensure livelihoods continue to flourish in the face of increasing climate uncertainty.

The Working on Wetlands team undertaking rehabilitation to improve a wetland's resilience to climate change impacts and contribute to future water security.

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Photo courtesy of Ellen Elmendorp

South Africa has an extraordinarily rich natural resource base, including robust ecological infrastructure and high levels of biodiversity - both of which are critical to adaptation planning in the developing world, where expensive technologies and built solutions are seldom affordable for the vast majority of our people. South Africa's ecological infrastructure and biodiversity assets have already proven their return on investment, for example in reducing the impacts of floods and through purifying water, and will continue to support cost-effective responses to climate change, and in particular the increased incidence of natural disasters.

SANBI is at the forefront of developing landscape-based approaches to sustainable development and has played a key role over the past two decades in assessing the impacts of, and adaptation options, to climate change. Working through its partnerships and through South Africa's bioregional programmes, SANBI has built experience in developing effective working relationships across sectors and between government, civil society and the private sector - all of which will play a crucial part in developing successful adaptation programmes.

In 2004 South Africa prepared its first National Communication in accordance with the Article 12 of the UNFCCC. SANBI is currently finalizing South Africa's Second National Communication under the UNFCCC. The core elements of the National Communication relates to information on emissions and removals of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and details of the activities a Party has undertaken to implement the Convention, including information on national circumstances, vulnerability and adaptation to climate change in key sectors, and transfer of technology, and education, training and public awareness. Accreditation as an NIE at this stage therefore positions South Africa very well for fulfilling a mandate to assisting vulnerable communities in reducing the risks of negative climate change impacts.

In the lead up to the COP 17 meeting (the Conference of Parties under the UNFCCC) in Durban later this year, SANBI aims to carry out a full planning process with the assistance of the Department of Environmental Affairs, which is the national Designated Authority, in order to achieve maximum value through transparency, inclusivity and alignment with national adaptation imperatives in its operations. SANBI aims to launch this exciting new role formally at COP17 in Durban, in December this year.

Together with the Department of Environmental Affairs, SANBI looks forward to the prospect of fulfilling the function of National Implementing Entity for climate change adaptation in South Africa. SANBI is extremely excited about the process of designing and putting into action an Implementing Entity that is responsive to South Africa's needs, informed by the best available scientific and socio-economic information required to prioritize key adaptation projects, and cognisant of a wide range of stakeholder views.

For further information contact: Gigi Laidler

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