SANBI Appointed as National Implementing Entity for UNFCCC Adaptation Fund

Edna Molewa, Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs welcomed the accreditation of the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) as a National Implementing Entity by the recently established Adaptation Fund Board of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Molewa said that the appointment is important as 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.

"SANBI's appointment is particularly pertinent as SANBI works closely with national climate change policy makers, and has led national initiatives relating to climate change adaptation. SANBI is also developing South Africa's Second National Communication on Climate Change for the upcoming UNFCCC COP17, to be held in Durban later this year and this accreditation is another feather in their cap that we most welcome," said Molewa.

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

The 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 appointment is significant for South Africa in securing the funds needed to plan our development trajectory in a way that is responsive to climate change.

The National Implementing Entity accreditation process is extremely stringent, requiring demonstration of financial integrity and management, institutional capacity, transparency and self-investigative powers. This accreditation is therefore an extremely important milestone for SANBI, placing it at the forefront of funding mechanisms available to support Climate Change Adaptation projects in the lead up to the Conference of Parties (COP 17) to be held in Durban later this year.

SANBI looks forward to 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 cognizant of a wide range of stakeholder views.

The Department of Environmental Affairs looks forward to using this as an opportunity to interact with similar institutions in other developing countries to optimise the positive impact of resources made available for adaptation to climate change. SANBI anticipates facilitating the implementation of projects that will make a meaningful contribution to improving the lives of those who will be adversely impacted by the effects of climate change.

The Adaptation Fund is a self-standing fund established under the Kyoto Protocol of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which gets the main part of its funding from a two percent share of proceeds of all Certified Emission Reductions issued under the Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism projects. The Fund is designed to finance concrete climate change adaptation projects and programmes based on the needs, views and priorities of developing countries. The Global Environment Facility provides secretariat services to the Adaptation Fund and the World Bank serves as its trustee, both on an interim basis.

The fund became fully operational on January 21 2011, with nearly $50 million worth of grants already approved in 2011. South Africa will now join four developing countries that have accredited NIEs (Jamaica, Uruguay, Senegal and Benin).

The Board decision makes South Africa the AFB's third accredited NIE in Africa, joining Senegal's Center for Ecological Monitoring and Benin's National Environment Fund. The Board has also accredited the Planning Institute of Jamaica and Agencia Nacional de Investigación e Innovación of Uruguay since September 2010.

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.

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 National Communications 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, systematic observation, and transfer of technology, and education, training and public awareness.

Kruger National Park - South African Safari