Small house behind green field with low hanging clouds
Agricultural food gardens in a village in Mul-Baiyer District, Western Highlands Province, Papua New Guinea. | Credit: USAID Climate Ready

How USAID Climate Ready Empowered Local Organizations to Access Finance for Climate Adaptation

By Alison Howard

Mobilizing finance is key to creating the sustainable momentum needed to confront the climate crisis. The topic will take center stage at the upcoming 28th annual United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP28. In addition to being one of four cross-cutting themes, finance will be a focus on December 4, when programming will address how to scale efforts, improve access, and enhance affordability for an inclusive climate transition. 

From 2016–2023, USAID Climate Ready generated more than $562 million for climate resilience activities in the Pacific Islands, which will ultimately benefit more than 800,000 people. The success of this program provides a roadmap to mobilize finance for climate resilience. The Pacific Islands are highly vulnerable to the climate crisis, with some countries only 15 feet above sea level. The region critically needs investment to safeguard against life- and livelihood-threatening climate impacts, which include sea level rise, ocean acidification, more intense tropical cyclones, drought, and excessive rainfall. To be most effective, this investment must engage local leadership to secure and implement funded projects, as affirmed by the locally led development pillar in USAID’s Climate Strategy.

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While finance for climate adaptation exists, it can be difficult to access. USAID Climate Ready worked with Pacific Island governments, regional development organizations, and local organizations to apply for funding from climate financers. The more than half billion dollars in finance that resulted includes both funding for large-scale projects to address conservation, natural resource management, and other critical needs, as well as smaller grants for community adaptation and project preparation.

USAID Climate Ready provided technical assistance directly to local community organizations to increase their capacity to access finance to fund climate adaptation projects. The initiative also supported local partners in using a gender equity and social inclusion lens. For example, the initiative partnered with the University of the South Pacific’s continuing vocational education program to offer accredited project management training in 11 countries. “The most helpful for me was learning about monitoring and evaluation, mapping out stakeholders, and to have all different components, including gender,” said Caroline Lemailwer, a participant from the Federated States of Micronesia.

Overall, USAID Climate Ready’s support led to:

  • Developing 19 climate change adaptation policies, plans, and strategies. 
  • Preparing and submitting 86 adaptation project proposals.
  • Training 2,500 people in managing adaptation projects—52 percent of whom were women.

Behind these numbers are stories of empowerment for Pacific Islanders. Mark Johnny, President of the Sokehs Menin Katengensed Organization, shared how the program helped his organization create a work plan and budget, ultimately increasing his community’s ability to implement climate resilience grants. “Working with the folks at USAID Climate Ready helped us focus on those things that communities really need.”

As COP28 takes a closer look at climate finance, initiatives like USAID Climate Ready show how empowering local actors to access and implement financing can lead to greater impact.

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Strategic Objective
Adaptation, Mitigation
Adaptation, Climate Finance, Climate Strategy, Climate Strategy Implementation, Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities, Locally-Led Development
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Alison Howard

Alison Howard is a Communications Associate at Environmental Incentives. She provides writing, editing, and other communications support to several USAID-funded projects, including the Advancing Capacity for the Environment program.

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