By Andy Bilich and Erica Slowik
When looking back on 2018, one thing is clear: It was a tumultuous year with respect to climate change. Record-breaking wildfires raged through California. Super-typhoons and historic hurricanes struck coastlines. “Off-the-chart” melting continued to transform the Artic landscape. And the IPCC produced a Special Report concluding that humankind has just 12 years to “make massive and unprecedented changes to global energy infrastructure to limit global warming.”
Despite these sobering events, several noteworthy climate achievements provided glimmers of hope. Fifteen-year-old Greta Thunberg became an international icon after she bravely protested outside the Swedish parliament to demand action on climate change. Awareness campaigns like the 24 Hours of Reality–one of the largest communications initiatives in history to address climate denial–reached record audiences. And the Global Climate Action Summit sparked bold commitments from a diverse range of stakeholders.
What did all this mean for Nataij? One busy year. Operating in the international development sphere, the Nataij team engaged in numerous projects across the globe that, at their core, aimed to advance the adaptive capacity of vulnerable communities to climate change. Some of these projects centered on climate finance, some on urban sustainability, some on capacity building, and still others on result-oriented development outcomes. Below, we offer a glimpse of our journey in 2018.
Climate Finance Access in Nepal
Nataij commenced 2018 by strengthening our ongoing accreditation support efforts in Kathmandu, Nepal. Over the course of the year, the team conducted three field visits in which we assisted candidates with their applications for direct access accreditation to the Green Climate Fund (GCF or “Fund”). Among other things, our work entailed assessing candidates’ gaps against the Fund’s accreditation standards; drafting policies and procedures that enhance their capacity to manage the fiduciary, environmental, and social risks of potential climate finance activities; and responding to action items requested by the GCF. With our continued guidance, it is anticipated that candidates will soon be accredited, which will enable Nepal to channel funding for adaptation and mitigation investments directly through national entities rather than rely on international intermediaries.
Urban Sustainability in the East African Community
With spring came the blossoming of a project that had spanned across many months as the Nataij team completed a baseline study on urban sustainability in the East African Community (1) on behalf of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization. With the assistance of national consultants, the Nataij team evaluated the performance of urban sectors in EAC countries by compiling and comparing metrics in the sectors of water and sanitation, industrialization, solid waste, transportation, and energy. Baseline data obtained from these assessments were then utilized to identify key challenges and opportunities for potential urban sustainability initiatives in the region. In late March, Nataij President and Founder, Dima Reda, presented our recommendations at the first-time Sustainable Energy Forum for East Africa in Kigali, Rwanda.
Capacity Building in the Philippines
During the summer, Nataij continued collaborations with our partners in the Philippines by providing iterative capacity building support to LandBank of the Philippines (“LandBank”). Specifically, the Nataij team guided LandBank in the development of environmental and social safeguards and gender mainstreaming practices that align with the Fund's accreditation standards. Our collective efforts were rewarded when the GCF Board announced its decision approving LandBank as one of sixteen Direct Access Entities. As such, LandBank will have the capability to mobilize GCF funding for projects and programs that address critical climate and development needs in the country.
In the fall, the Nataij team travelled to Manila to assist the Foundation for the Philippine Environment (FPE or “Foundation”) to review its institutional framework and align its policies, procedures, and systems with international best practices. To ensure the formal approval of new policies and procedures before the conclusion of 2018, Nataij maintained constant communication with the Foundation upon our return to California. It is expected that, once operationalized, the structural changes will enhance FPE’s capacity to drive meaningful and lasting change in biodiversity conservation and sustainable development.
Delivering Effective Results
Throughout 2018, Nataij also participated in efforts to bolster the development outcomes of climate-related initiatives. First, the team helped design a new Theory of Change and strategic results frameworks for two multi-lateral adaptation funds. This involved refining project- and program-level goals, outcomes, outputs, and indicators to improve results for both beneficiaries and donors. Nataij Founder and President, Dima Reda, also served as a panelist in Berlin, Germany, where she shared her insights on GCF direct access processes and discussed the potential for deeper impacts of projects.
What’s in store for 2019?
While exciting opportunities are forming and will materialize over time, some initial endeavors on the horizon for Nataij in early 2019 include:
Expanding our accreditation support efforts in Nepal to include the delivery of tailored capacity building workshops and the development of multi-year work programs that align with the country’s priorities;
Collaborating with our partners in the Philippines to refine and submit to the GCF a project concept note for sustainable transportation and development; and
Designing data-driven tools to assist our colleagues with results-oriented project development as well as the monitoring and evaluation of outcomes.
The Nataij team looks forward to a new year of strong partnerships, innovative problem-solving, and meaningful results!
(1) The East African Community is composed of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda.