World Bank to operate ‘loss and damage’ climate fund

France’s President Emmanuel Macron (L) listens to World Bank President Ajay Banga during the Transforming Climate Finance session at the United Nations climate summit in Dubai on December 1, 2023. World leaders take centre stage at UN climate talks in Dubai on December 1, under pressure to step up efforts to limit global warming as the Israel-Hamas conflict casts a shadow over the summit. (Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP)

DUBAI, Dec 1, 2023 (AFP) – The World Bank will “operate” an ambitious new climate change fund, but donors and recipients will likely control how the money is actually spent, the head of the development lender said Friday.

More than $400 million has been pledged initially to the new “loss and damage” fund for countries impacted by climate change since it was approved by nations attending the UN’s COP 28 climate summit in Dubai on Thursday.

The amount so far falls well short of the $100 billion developing nations say are needed to meet the costs of changing climate, but more pledges are expected in coming days.

“The reality is the bank is currently not planning to play the role of allocating the money,” World Bank President Ajay Banga told an event at the summit in Dubai.

“That will be done by a governing board that needs to be created, that should have representation from the donor countries as well as the recipient countries,” he added.

The World Bank will play a more limited role, managing the day-to-day operations of the fund, Banga explained.

“Our job is like a trustee: We run it, we operate it, we hope to make sure the money goes the right places — because we know how to do that,” he said, adding that the fund was still in its early stages.

The loss and damage fund has been hailed as a positive start to this year’s COP summit in the United Arab Emirates, which has been billed as the largest summit to date, with more than 140 world leaders due to speak on Friday and Saturday.

Climate finance has been a key sticking point, with wealthy nations most responsible for emissions not delivering on promises to support the vulnerable states who are worst affected but least responsible for global warming.

On Friday, Banga said the new loss and damage fund would initially look to help finance “technical assistance and analytics,” for countries impacted by climate change.

“If this gets done well, sometime next year is when you’ll start seeing money actually be put out to help countries on the ground,” he added.