10 November 2020. What connects a farmer in Niger, a young mother in Bangladesh and a community leader in a mountain village in Bhutan? They are all part of a growing number of participants to the Local Climate Adaptive Living Facility, or LoCAL, a global mechanism that is delivering results by channeling grants for locally-led climate change adaptation actions in Least Developed Countries. Communities and local governments in LDCs across Africa, Asia and the Pacific, united in their shared susceptibility to the negative impacts of climate change, are coming together and adopting the LoCAL facility to finance climate change adaptation. To date some 25 nations, most of which are classed as Least Developed Countries, have engaged LoCAL or are busy planning their LoCAL engagement.
LoCAL has engaged some 293 local governments, representing over 11 million people in 14 countries: Bangladesh, Benin, Bhutan, Cambodia, The Gambia, Ghana, Lao PDR, Lesotho, Mali, Mozambique, Nepal, Niger, Tanzania and Tuvalu. Another 11 countries have expressed interest in deploying LoCAL including Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Malawi, Pakistan, Palestine, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, Solomon Islands, Sudan and Uganda, bringing the total number of LoCAL countries to 25, with the potential to reach some 500 million people.
A key benefit of LoCAL is its versatility. Though many LDCs have a shared and unenviable position on the climate change frontline, their countries are being challenged in very different ways – so Niger is battling drought and desertification while Bangladesh is holding back floods and rising sea levels.
“LoCAL is designed to be systemic yet flexible,” said Sophie De Coninck, LoCAL Facility Manager. “One of the reasons the mechanism is able to deliver results in countries that are facing very different climate challenges, is that local governments and communities decide what adaptation actions the grants should finance and really take ownership of the whole process.”
Local governments are supported to develop climate change adaptation plans that meet their community’s needs. Actions are financed through special grants, known as performance-based climate resilience grants (PBCRGs) and include technical support and capacity building measures.
LoCAL, originally designed by the UN Capital Development Fund, is strongly supported with funding from the European Union and Member States, in particular Sweden. Over US $90 million of funds, including domestic resources, have already been mobilised. Actions are as varied as the needs of the countries and vulnerable groups that participate in LoCAL.
In Niger, three rounds of PBCRGs have produced notable results in participating local government authorities. What’s more, systems are now in place to enable local governments to collect, archive and analyse meteorological, climate and socioeconomic data and to undertake local climate projections to inform their future planning and budgeting.
In Bangladesh, villagers have engaged LoCAL grants for projects that secure access to clean drinking water, clean energy sources such as solar power, or for road construction. While in Bhutan, some communities have planted bamboo hedgerows to prevent mudslides and soil erosion. Whatever the local need, LoCAL has proved an effective means of financing locally led adaptation action.
Since its establishment in 2011, the LoCAL facility has advanced participating countries’ commitments to the Paris Agreement through support at the local level. As well as boosting access to finance, the LoCAL facility aims to increase local-level climate change awareness, engages in capacity building and integrates climate change adaptation into local government planning and budgeting in a participatory and gender-sensitive manner.
The LoCAL facility empowers local governments in contributing to their mandated responsibilities as laid out in their country’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). LoCAL is supporting a number of countries in reviewing their Nationally Determined Contributions and preparing their National Adaption Plans (NAPs). In April 2019, the LoCAL guidelines were endorsed as supplementary material to the NAP technical guidelines by the LDC Expert Group at the UNFCCC.
LoCAL also assists national entities from LDCs in accessing funds through the Green Climate Fund (GCF), building cohesion and ownership around action on local climate change adaptation. For example, the Bhutan Trust Fund for Environmental Conservation (BTFEC) gained accreditation as Bhutan’s first National Implementing Entity (NIE) of the GCF in April 2020. LoCAL assisted BTFEC through the application process, with the support of the EU’s Global Climate Change Alliance Plus Initiative and Sida.
“Before the rehabilitation of the wells by LoCAL, the women had to go to the other side of the village to fetch water, and that could take 2 or 3 hours as there were so many people.” Haoua Sounna, President of the women’s group, Baziga in Loga Commune, Niger.
Indeed, it was with LoCAL support that the National Committee for Sub-National Democratic Development Secretariat (NCDD-S) in Cambodia successfully applied and received accreditation to become a National Implementing Entity of the Green Climate Fund in 2019. This notable achievement made the NCDD-S the world’s first national implementing entity dealing with local governments.
The LoCAL facility is overseen by the LoCAL Board, which is made up of representatives from governments participating in the global mechanism. The Board is headed by the Chairs of the Least Developed Countries Group to the United Nations and to the UN Framework for the Convention on Climate Change. LoCAL is currently co-chaired by LDC member states, Bhutan and Malawi.
In its 2019 Decision, the LoCAL Board reaffirmed its commitment to a strong and continued LoCAL engagement with the UNFCCC, the decisions made at the Convention of the Parties (COP) and with the LDC group.
“The brunt of the impacts of climate change are borne by the poor and the underprivileged at the grassroots level, the local government level,” said Mr. Sonam Phuntsho Wangdi, Secretary of the National Environment Commission of the Royal Kingdom of Bhutan and LoCAL co-Chair. “With support from LoCAL, we are finding that local governments are increasingly mainstreaming climate change adaptation issues into their activities and planning.”