Combating climate change through Public-Private Partnership funding


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For the past three decades, change experts, scientists and environmental champions have rallied the world to act against looming climate change. The United Nations listed sustainable development goal (SDG) number 13, ‘Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impact’ in a bid to highlight the gravity of the situation and need for climate action.

In 2015, the Paris Agreement, a landmark international accord, was adopted by nearly every nation, with a goal to address climate change and its negative impacts by working to substantially reduce global greenhouse gas emissions in this century.

Fast forward to 2021 and we can attest to the effects of climate change from prolonged droughts, intense storms, melting glaciers (evident on the peaks of Mount Kenya and Mount Kilimanjaro in Kenya and Tanzania, respectively). Additionally, reduced crop yield has presented a looming food crisis, and unprecedented high rainfall has spurred frequent cases of flooding and destruction of infrastructure. Further effects could lead to freshwater shortages, alter food production conditions, as well as exacerbate loss of lives due to cyclic floods, storms, and drought.

Presently, climate change continues to threaten the course of humanity, almost rendering the previous narrative on climate change mitigation irrelevant. Unfortunately, the environmental impacts of climate change cannot be reversed – this would be wishful thinking. However, greater commitment and actions toward climate adaptation and mitigation can be prioritised to build, equip, and enhance resilience within communities.

Mitigation vs adaptation. Is there a difference?

If we all planted trees to increase forest cover, attract more rain, and compact the soil to prevent landslides, this would be considered climate change mitigation. You might even explore drought resilient crops such as cassava and iron rich beans to address food insecurity and malnutrition. These minimize the impact of climate change on people and the environment.

Climate adaption on the other hand, seeks to address how to work with the changes resulting from climate change, to ensure sustainability.  Innovation and technology are the best tools that humanity currently has to succeed in adaptation.  A great case can be made in favour of value addition in agricultural products, such as tomatoes, to maximise the shelf life of the products, minimise wastage, and sustain a larger population of people through a dry season. Development of efficient solar powered irrigation schemes would also ensure crops remain watered and mature into a harvest during a drought spell.

The role of Public-Private Partnerships

In 2019, The Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs made €160 million (approximately Ksh. 20 billion) to increase the resilience of communities and ecosystems most vulnerable to climate change. This can be aptly considered as a ‘game-changer’ in combating climate change in the continent. The funds are made available through a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) managed by the Dutch Fund for Climate and Development (DFCD), enabling private sector investment in projects aimed at climate adaptation and mitigation in developing countries.

The DFCD is managed by a pioneering consortium of Climate Fund Managers (CFM), World Wide Fund for Nature Netherlands (WWF-NL) and SNV Netherlands Development Organisation, led by the Dutch Entrepreneurial Development Bank, FMO.

“African countries are increasingly experiencing severe backlash from climate change, and unfortunately they lack or do not have enough resources to invest against this new challenge,” says Tigere Muzenda, the project manager for DFCD Africa.

“DFCD offers grants to private companies in order to leverage their investments towards innovative solutions that will enhance Africa’s chances of positive adaption to climate change.  Adaptation will ensure proper system changes in business operations that will result in community resilience and business sustainability,” he adds.

The COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions that hit the world may have unfortunately slowed the implementation speed in Africa, but they have not put a stop to the project. Despite these challenges, there are numerous organisations working behind the scenes to meet the requirements that would qualify them as worthy beneficiaries of a grant.

“We have seen a number of interested investors pitch various ideas with an aim to not only make profits but also to make a difference in the lives of women, young girls and youth. For example, the case of tapping into solar energy to provide clean water solutions to communities, reducing the number of hours that women and girls spend in search of water – a rare commodity in most parts of Eastern Kenya,” says Florence Kariuki, the business development advisor for DFCD Kenya.

Other interesting cases that have been pitched for the grant include the provision of cold storage facilities for smallholder farmers in rural areas to ensure food does not go to waste, and to convert old industrial wastewater treatment plant into a faecal sludge and industrial wastewater treatment plant with value addition through the production of organic fertiliser, biogas, and briquettes for efficient cookstoves.

“Even though climate adaption is the core mandate of DFCD, we are also looking to address other development challenges such as youth and gender empowerment, application of climate smart agriculture and restoration of ecosystems to protect the environment,” Tigere adds.

How does the fund work?

The Dutch Fund for Climate and Development (DFCD) provides finance and technical assistance to projects with a focus on climate change adaptation, to mobilise external private sector funding at scale. DFCD funding is divided among three operating windows, each with a specific focus: the origination facility, the land use facility, and the water facility.

Working with private investors, the DFCD focuses on several high-impact investment themes including climate-resilience, water systems, water management and freshwater ecosystems, forestry, climate-smart agriculture, and restoration of ecosystems to protect the environment.

Investors developing climate friendly innovative projects that result in climate adaption are encouraged to apply for the grant. 

Written by: Rosemary Nzuki (Marketing and Communications Advisor, DFCD Africa)
Banner image: Climate Resilient Agribusiness for Tomorrow project (CRAFT) in Tanzania