Tiempo Climate Cyberlibrary

Interview with Boni Biagini


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Boni Biagini In a Newswatch interview, Boni Biagini reflects on the National Adaptation Programme of Action process to date from a Global Environment Facility perspective.
Boni Biagini is cluster coordinator for climate change, adaptation, with the Global Environment Facility. She is based in the United States.

Tiempo Climate Newswatch: How many countries have submitted a project for funding and what is the status of their National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA) documents and project plans?

Boni Biagini: Among the 49 Least Developed Countries (LDCs), 46 have received funding to prepare their NAPAs and 20 have already delivered their NAPA reports. With respect to NAPA implementation (actual measures as opposed to vulnerability assessments), ten countries have submitted projects [see table below] which have all been approved for the preparation stage and initial funding from the LDC Fund (LDCF) has begun. All projects are implementing concrete action measures on the ground and demonstrate a wide range of adaptation interventions.

To meet the adaptation needs of the LDCs, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) has overhauled the way it manages its projects. For example, no Resources Allocation Framework is applied, no demonstration of ' incremental cost' is required and no 'global benefits' must be demonstrated. Such rules would not be appropriate for the LDCF and for projects that integrate adaptation measures into development actions, such as those submitted under the LDCF. The GEF has also streamlined the project approval system to allow LDCs to access LDCF funds faster.

Tiempo Climate Newswatch: What does the funding situation look like at the moment?

Boni Biagini: The LDCF now contains over US$150 million, and additional pledges are expected. This means that for the first round of NAPA implementation to help make LDCs less vulnerable to climate change, funds are available to each LDC to finance adaptation on a full-cost basis. Although we know that US$150 million is not enough to meet the demand for adaptation, we expect it will allow the LDCs to pioneer adaptation action worldwide. It is a noteworthy first step that countries will be able to build on, even though we understand more resources will be needed. To that end, the GEF is mobilizing funds for adaptation on an ongoing basis and we are satisfied with the initial donor response.

Considering that the LDCF is a voluntary fund and that when we started there was limited information on what adaptation projects would mean on the ground, the initial financial contributions showed the willingness of donors to commit their support to adaptation and their awareness that immediate action is needed. Now that the LDCs and the GEF have shown good results, the feedback is very positive and the flow of money to the LDCs continues to grow.

Priority projects submitted for global environment facility funding
Country Project title Objective GEF (US$) Project total (US$)
Bangladesh Strengthening adaptive capacities to address climate change threats on sustainable development strategies for coastal communities in Bangladesh To improve resilience of coastal populations, settlements and ecosystems in areas exposed to coastal hazards 3,000,000 9,080,000
Bhutan Reducing climate change-induced risks and vulnerabilities from glacial lake outburst floods in the Punakha-Wangdi and Chamkhar Valleys To reduce climate change-induced risks and vulnerabilities from glacial lake outbursts in the Punakha-Wangdi Valley and Chamkhar Valley 3,987,555 7,723,779
Cambodia Building capacities to integrate water resources planning into agricultural development To enhance adaptive capacity, at the national, institutional and local levels, to climate change-induced changes in water resources availability for the agricultural sector in Cambodia 1,850,000 3,800,000
Djibouti Reducing impacts on and vulnerability of productive coastal systems in Djibouti To reduce Djibouti's vulnerability to climate change along its coastal zone. The project will strengthen Djibouti's capacity to promote sustainable development and climate-proof its integrated coastal zone management 2,000,000 3,950,000
Eritrea Integrating climate change risks into community- based livestock management in the northwestern lowlands of Eritrea To enhance the adaptive capacity of livestock production systems in the Kerkebet area 3,000,000 6,400,000
Malawi Climate Adaptation for Rural Livelihoods and Agriculture (CARLA) To improve resilience to current climate variability and future climate change by developing and implementing cost effective adaptation strategies, policies and measures that will improve agricultural production and rural livelihoods 3,000,000 27,305,000
Mauritania Reducing vulnerability of arid oasian zones to climate change and variability through improved watershed management To address urgent issues through improved environmental management and to show how climate change information and improved data on water can be used to enhance resource management and decision making at several levels, including technical, policy and community level demand side management. These issues will be replicable in other oasian environments, which are particularly fragile ecosystems. This is key to the country's development as Mauritania is perennially water deficient and mismanagement of water supplies will further hamper its development 1,630,000 3,030,000
Niger Implementing NAPA priority interventions to build the resilience and adaptive capacity of the agricultural sector to climate change in Niger To implement urgent and priority interventions that will promote enhanced adaptive capacity of the agricultural sector to address the additional risks posed by climate change 1,900,000 5,950,000
Samoa Integrated Climate Change Adaptation in Samoa (ICCAS) To increase the resilience and adaptive capacity of Samoa to the threat of climate change, through targeted adaptation interventions in four thematic areas: (i) health; (ii) agriculture and food security; (iii) ecosystem management; and (iv) early warning systems 2,000,000 4,000,000
Sudan Implementing NAPA priority interventions to build resilience in the agriculture and water sectors to the adverse impacts of climate change in Sudan To implement an urgent set of measures that will minimize and reverse the food insecurity and enhance the adaptive capacity of small-scale farmers and pastoralists resulting from climate change, including variability, through (i) water resources management, (ii) rain-fed agricultural production, and (iii) rangeland productivity. In addition, the project aims to promote the mainstreaming of short-term climate risks into policy and planning frameworks, enhance institutional capacity building, and implement a monitoring and evaluation system 3,000,000 6,000,000

Tiempo Climate Newswatch: The NAPAs are international instruments; what have you learned in making the link from global negotiated mandates to local, effective action?

Boni Biagini: I believe that it is very important that the LDCF was established in the context of the Climate Convention because it was developed in collaboration with the LDCs as Parties and, therefore, responds directly to their needs. It was also important to develop the main operational criteria as Convention guidance from day one. That is where the international context is important. Once the fund has been established and the resources have been mobilized, the NAPAs move from theory to practice with national adaptation projects on the ground, and project implementation must be done at a local level.

This is a key step forward, because the majority of work on adaptation so far has been based on academic studies and assessments. But now it is time for adaptation action. The LDCs are implementing this programme to become less vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change through projects under the LDCF. We are learning every day about the challenges of integrating adaptation measures into development and what adaptation is really all about, and we are making progress. We have no time to spare.

Tiempo Climate Newswatch: What do you foresee beyond the NAPAs? What more is required to ensure the LDCs are not adversely affected by climate change?

Boni Biagini: Well, first of all the NAPA is a process, so beyond the early projects I can see further development within the LDCF context. This process will evolve; I do not think that it is just a round of isolated projects. I think we will learn a lot from these first projects. It is ground-breaking work in the adaptation field. As climate change affects all the core development sectors, such as agriculture, water, health and disaster risk management, the more adaptation action we can implement, the more we can learn how to confront climate change impacts. We will raise more money, do more projects and continue to work together with the LDCs so that the effects of climate change are reduced. For me it is important that people realize the applied nature of the LDCF projects. We are not just studying and assessing. We are trying to fix the problem. The time for adaptation action is now.

Tiempo Climate Newswatch: But what is adaptation on the ground? Can you give me an example?

Boni Biagini: There are dozens of examples but let me rely on two for our readers: our projects in Bhutan and Malawi. In Bhutan, temperature increases are causing a rapid meltdown from Himalayan glaciers, leading to an unsustainable level of water in many glacial melt lakes. As these glacial melt lakes reach critical thresholds, they may collapse causing catastrophic flash floods damaging Bhutan's densely populated valleys. If this happens, massive loss of life and huge economic impacts would result. The LDCF project in Bhutan will reduce the risks of such catastrophic impacts, both through improving early warning systems and increasing the national capacity for disaster management should significant melting prove unavoidable, but also by physical interventions to lower the water levels of particularly dangerous glacial melt lakes.

Village in Malawi Village in Malawi

© John Soussan/SEI

Another example is the LDCF project in Malawi, where increasing temperatures and decreasing rainfall are causing severe water shortages in a region dominated by rain-fed subsistence agriculture. The LDCF project there will promote a process in which agricultural production and rural livelihoods become more resilient to climate-induced water shortages. The primary part of this intervention will be the implementation of targeted local adaptation pilot measures, both to increase the resilience of particularly vulnerable communities and as a demonstration and learning platform on which to build future adaptation actions. Activities will include (amongst others): crop diversification, improved cropping sequences, conservation tillage, irrigation from Lake Malawi and improved water management techniques. Also, the project will aim to create a political and institutional environment for climate risk management at local, regional and national levels, through targeted capacity building and legislative action. For example, it will train farmers, agricultural extension staff and officials.

Tiempo Climate Newswatch: Thank you for your time.


The editors thank Jessica Halliwell from the Stockholm Environment Institute for conducting this interview.

Further information

Boni Biagini, The Global Environment Facility, 1818 H Street, NW, MSN G 6-602, Washington, DC 20433, United States. Fax: +1-202-5223240. Email: bbiagini@thegef.org. Web: www.gefweb.org.

On the Web

Visit the Global Environment Facility site for more information about how their activities support the response to the climate threat.

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Updated: May 15th 2015