Global leaders call for urgent climate finance action at Building Bridges conference in Geneva

By Climate Champions | October 5, 2023

Climate risks are now recognized as some of the most critical threats to the global economy. Even with reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, the consequences of a warming planet will continue to compound, disproportionately affecting countries who have done the least to contribute to climate change.

This week, the Building Bridges conference in Geneva brought together over 2000 delegates including representatives from the financial and corporate sectors, the sustainability community, policy makers and entrepreneurs to discuss the importance of shaping a global economic model aligned with the needs of  sustainable and just societies already confronting the negative impacts  of climate change.

During a session on Mobilising the Private Financial Sector on Adaptation and Resilience Dr. Mahmoud Mohieldin, UN Climate Change High-Level Champion for COP27 joined representatives from The Insurance Development Forum, Institutional Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change, the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI), UNFCCC  and the Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center among others.

Together they presented a call to action for both private and public sectors to collaborate on urgently mobilising the US$160–340 billion needed by 2030 to help developing countries adapt to the increasing severity of climate change. 

During the session, Dr. Mohieldin stressed the important role private sector finance can and must play in relation to climate finance, as outlined in the first synthesis report of the Global Stocktake.

He added that as the Sharm el Sheikh Adaptation Agenda also acknowledges, adaptation and resilience are now climate investment imperatives. The challenge now is how to translate this awareness into actual investments given the absence of a common framework for implementing and demonstrating corporate leadership in this area of climate finance.

Dr. Mohieldin also noted that uncertainty within the finance community is leading to significant underfunding. Corporations and institutional investors provided just $1 billion, or 2%, of tracked adaptation finance in 2019 and 2020, compared to 98% from public sources. 

This year’s catalogue of climate-driven disasters coupled with news that 2023 is expected to be the hottest year on record put investment in adaptation high on the agenda during the Building Bridges flagship plenary event: Scaling Climate Finance to reach the Trillions.

The session was moderated by Mattia Romani, Chief Policy Office of holistiQ Investment Partners and speaking on the panel alongside Dr. Mohieldin were Professor Avinash Persaud, Special Envoy to the Prime Minister of Barbados for Investment and Financial Services; Dr Barbara Buchner, Global Managing Director, Climate Policy Initiative and Hubert Keller, Senior Managing Partner, Lombard Odier.

In the presence of an audience primarily representing financial institutions from the Global North, the panel discussed the crucial role private finance can play in reaching the trillions required to close the climate finance gap and outlined the urgency of creating an enabling environment to encourage this flow of capital, at a lower cost, with concessional terms, at scale,to support the transition to a low carbon, nature positive economy.

That’s why through the Regional Platforms for Climate Projects (RPCP), the High-Level Champions, in collaboration with the UN Regional Commissions have identified more than 100 shovel-ready projects in Africa and other developing countries in the five regions of the world which present both significant economic and environmental benefits at the regional, national and local levels.

On the sidelines of the Building Bridges Conference, Dr. Mohieldin met with Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director General of the World Trade Organization, he confirmed the important role of trade in the transition to a low-carbon global economy and more sustainable societies. In his meetings with Rebcca Grynspan,Secretary General of United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and Borge Brende, President of the World Economic Forum, Dr. Mohieldin highlighted that the EU’s Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) is one of the mechanisms that imposes restrictions on developing countries, limiting the competitiveness of their products and potentially resulting in the decline of their GDP.

Dr. Mohieldin also participated in a meeting at the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, where he stated that governments and other actors can address climate change in a way that is consistent with their human rights obligations including the right to development.Dr. Mohieldin also discussed the importance of dealing with loss and damage caused by climate change as a way to protect human rights in the most vulnerable communities. 

He pointed to the establishment of the Loss and Damage Fund during COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh and how progress on this at COP28 in Dubai this year would be a significant step forward in increasing the resilience of local communities across the globe living in constant fear of the next devastating climate shock.

During his participation at a meeting of the International Labour Organization (ILO), Dr. Mohieldin stressed that the success of a just transition depends on protecting those most affected by a shift away from fossil-fuel producing industries. This means providing alternative jobs and training for workers and providing financial and technical support to countries and regions that are still highly dependent on producing or consuming fossil fuels.