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Climate Talks Must Determine How to Disburse Aid, Africans Say

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Jan. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Global climate talks later this year in Durban, South Africa, need to focus on how to disburse $100 billion in pledged aid to developing countries, the head of Nigeria’s Centre for Public Policy Alternatives said.

Envoys at United Nations talks in Cancun, Mexico, in December agreed to a package aimed at limiting global warming by protecting forests, advising nations on adapting to higher temperatures and opening a $100 billion Green Climate Fund.

“They put forward the idea of a green fund,” Folarin Gbadebo-Smith, a Harvard graduate, said in an interview in Johannesburg. “The truth is, as an African corporation, I cannot access funds sitting with the UN. The process of getting to that money is so complicated.”

The fund is intended to mobilize $100 billion a year by 2020 from wealthier countries to help poorer nations cope with the consequences of climate change and mitigate further CO2 emissions.

“The international community makes these offers with one hand and then cleverly pulls it back by creating structural obstacles to access,” Gbadebo-Smith said yesterday.

The UN talks in Durban in December need to spell out the financing framework details for extending the aid to developing countries, said Evariste Sinarinzi, head of Burundi’s Designated National Authority. His is among the government agencies that screen carbon projects before they go to the Clean Development Mechanism’s executive board.

“It’s important to simplify these procedures so that developing countries can get access to these funds. We want to see how these adaptation funds are going to be spent,” Sinarinzi said in an interview.

Disbursement Concerns

The money must not be dispersed to governments, said Gbadebo-Smith, a former mayor of a Lagos municipality. “African governments collectively are corrupt. Any money you throw at these entities just disappears into a black hole.”

African nations reached a consensus at the Cancun talks on getting climate-protection finance via the African Development Bank Group.

“But conditions have to be set,” he said. “The guidelines have to really clear as to how you can access this money and part of the money must be made available for information and education of the end-user.”

There’s no forum where ideas are exchanged and coordinated in Africa, Gbadebo-Smith said. “That’s a problem that needs to be addressed by this finance,” he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lauren van der Westhuizen in Cape Town at lvanderwesth@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reed Landberg at landberg@bloomberg.net