The “Assessment of Climate Finance Governance in Maldives” report published by local NGO Transparency Maldives (TM) has revealed a number of concerns in climate finance governance.
The report indicates the Maldives has been pledged US$ 99,280,073 in grants, US$ 20,380,000 in loans and US$ 48,506,276 from multi-lateral and bilateral donors, for co-financing projects from 2008 through 2015.
Projects focus mainly on mitigation, adaptation and capacity building, and cover a wide range of areas from waste management, conservation, water resource management to education and development of renewable, clean and sustainable energy.
It was conducted as part of the “Climate Finance Integrity Programme” piloted by Transparency International in six countries to monitor the raising, managing and governance climate related finance.
TM noted the need for increased transparency in the decision making process, including the selection of islands for different projects to allowing civil sector groups to monitor and review priorities.
According to the report, project locations are prioritized by implementing agencies such as Ministry of Energy and Environment without the involvement of donor agencies.
As the criteria for island selection is not visible in any records, “there is a strong incentive for political maneuvering in island selection,” the report said. This issue is not specific to climate change projects but seems to be the general trend, it added.
Transparency Maldives has proposed the establishment of a clearly identified and comprehensive climate policy and strategy to “ensure selection of projects is aligned to strategic goals and not to personal or political gain”.
The NGO also took issue with the constant reorganization of decision making bodies, their members, hierarchy and mandates, arguing “in cases of institutional changes it is important to disclose the hierarchy of decision-making processes, mandates and who is responsible for overseeing the work of each committee.”
The report also noted “serious concerns” in the availability of accurate and up-to-date information on projects and their progress. The public is said to have no access to a comprehensive list of climate projects at present.
A government website isles.egov.mv created in 2009 to increase transparency is still being managed by the President’s Office instead of the central monitoring agency, the Office of Programmes and Projects (OPP), as planned. Further, the website is not regularly updated, the report said.
Discrepancies in available financial information of projects from different sources was also reported. “It remains a challenge for ordinary citizens to gain access to information from the Government of Maldives with many restrictions included in accessing information,” the reported said.
Another issue highlighted was insufficient external monitoring of climate change projects, mainly because of the shortage of information reported to the OPP.
Due to this, the reporting of monitoring and evaluation of climate projects is done solely by the implementing agencies such as the ministry.
Donors must encourage project reporting to a national monitoring agency to increase transparency and public access to such information, the TM said.
Weakness in oversight was also mentioned in the report, referring mainly to the Auditor General’s Office (AGO) and Anti-corruption Commission (ACC).
Donors have limited access to some AGO documents due to language barriers, while implementation of recommendations in audit reports are not followed up until the next audit, the report said.
No complaints concerning climate finance have been lodged to or investigated by ACC, however, the ACC has provided recommendations on instances where inefficiencies could risk corruption. But the report found the ACC also does not monitor the implementation of their recommendations.
The assessment highlighted that it was “not clearly evident” whether the parliament reviewed or analyzed reports submitted by independent institution or the OPP, as no such reviews have been published.
TM has proposed a number of recommendations for specific parties involved in climate finance governance, and plans to conduct a more in-depth governance assessment of the Ministry of Environment and Energy – the institution which receives the largest portion of climate finance projects.
The report can be downloaded from here.