Being dropped off at the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) headquarters in Manila at 7am accompanied by quite severe jet lag meant there was only one thing on my mind. Coffee!
Normally on trips like this, all that is on offer is some hot, brown ditch water masquerading as coffee. Not so in the ADB. They have a Starbucks!
I interned in Parliament for a year or so, and even in the UK government institutions, where perhaps you might expect it, we don’t have a Starbucks. Starbucks, has that Marmite quality, it’s both loved and hated, and its ubiquitousness symbolises the pursuit of expansion and economic prosperity.
I’m here in Manila to attend the Climate Investment Fund’s (CIFs) Partnership Forum. This is a multi-stakeholder dialogue to look at these unique MDB funds (more explanation on the CIFs in my previous blog) and draw lessons from what works and what doesn’t for the future.
But looming over all the discussions here on the CIFs, is the other side to MDB lending. Some strong themes arose throughout the day’s discussion. Notably the importance of continuous capturing of lessons from the CIFs and applying these not only back into the CIFs, but back into bilateral aid programmes and to the MDB’s non-climate friendly portfolios.
Interestingly, southern governments argued for a more ‘endogenous’ approach to low carbon development (something CAFOD has been shouting about too!).
This approach must not simply import technologies from developed to developing countries, but support the ability of developing countries to undertake a wide range of activities such as innovation, production and dissemination of appropriate technologies, taking southern private sector with them in this endeavour.
Another critical theme to emerge throughout the day was the consistent lack of engagement and consultation with stakeholders, including some non-energy related government departments, the private sector, civil society and academia. And here is the problem.
Whilst the MDBs encourage developing countries to consult widely, they are not able to compel them to do so, and subsequently this advice is not always adhered to. In practice, as has happened in various other MDB funded projects, many stakeholders, not just civil society, are sidelined, and sometimes negatively impacted.
So how can we move forward? Well, for starters, these issues need rigorous debate in a neutral setting where stakeholders, MDBs and developing country governments must find a solution that works.
Developing countries must listen to their civil society, but MDBs must be courageous enough to call out when developing countries don’t follow their safeguards, through increased transparency.
What we must see coming from this forum and which is yet to be spelt out clearly, is how the issues and concerns addressed here, will be ploughed back into the design and future modification of the CIFs.
Posted by Liz Gallagher