C4: Multilateral Funding Schemes Go Urban

This post is part of our live blog series from the Resilient Cities 2015 congress. For more live blogs, please click here.

Imagine a city in coastal Vietnam, surrounded by low-lying areas and highly affected by upstream hydropower projects. The city wants to conduct a project on water resources, also involving neighboring provinces. It sounds like a promising approach that could strengthen the city’s capacities and resilience and also generate lessons for other cities in the region. But where does the funding come from?

Session C4, which was organized in cooperation with the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), introduced different funding schemes and projects from multilateral development agencies. Saliha Dobardzic of the GEF explained their new Sustainable Cities Integrated Approach Pilot, which aims to enhance integrated planning and catalyze investments in sustainable cities.

“The GEF is very serious about cities. We understand that taking a more strategic approach to urban programming could unlock the potential for synergies and leverage co-benefits specific to the urban context”, Dobardzic reports.

Astrid Westerlind Wigström from the World Bank also agreed that working across sectors should be seen as an opportunity. She introduced tools and programs such as the Climate Risk Screening Tool, which is an open-source tool that can also be used by local governments.

Emani Kumar, ICLEI South Asia Regional Director, appreciated the approaches but emphasized that even more easily accessible funding for cities is necessary.

“Each city has its own way of getting funds. But the bridge between the cities and the funding is often still very troublesome.”

The plenary revealed that the large funding agencies are increasingly putting urban resilience funding and projects at the core of their agendas. Nonetheless, a lot of the funding is still directed to national governments; this funding can then reach cities through concrete projects. Concerning his own city, Quang Cuong Dinh of the Municipality of Da Nang in Vietnam concludes:

“It would be good to have direct funding through the city and not through the national governments, because that is very complicated.”

The representative from Dakar, Senegal, argued that funding schemes should focus on local problems and recognize what the local governments and cities are doing, rather than just following global policies.