Frankfurt School has a long tradition in building capacities in developing and emerging countries through technical assistance and executive education programmes.
When I started my career in international development cooperation, I was not aware of the range of services and products FS was offering in the sphere of climate and finance. Having a background in development economics and natural resource governance, I previously worked together with local stakeholders (incl. indigenous communities) to strengthen capacities in effective territorial management and climate change adaptation. Approaches to accessing financial resources (e.g. payments for ecosystem services, access and benefit-sharing agreements) were largely discussed and communities made substantial progress in negotiating effective and beneficial arrangements, which supports them to build their resilience against a changing climate and living conditions. However, this was only a fraction of what I learned about (climate) finance later at FS.
How I got involved into climate adaptation finance
Working now for almost four years at Frankfurt School’s Sustainable World Academy, I had the chance to extend my knowledge of financial aspects to promote climate-resilient and sustainable development. Right from the start, I jumped into a very promising project, namely the Adaptation Finance Fellowship Programme (AFFP), which seeks to build capacities of young, talented and promising future leaders in climate adaptation finance and to establish a global network of likeminded people to foster innovations to make our world, and vulnerable countries, regions and peoples especially, more climate-resilient. Through this project, I got to know many motivated people from around the globe, working all for the same goal, regardless of origin, gender or religion. It was just amazing to see how our fellows, coming from policy, private sector and academia, joined forces during this 18-month programme and built up strong professional and personal ties among themselves and with us. Through a blended learning approach, fellows took part in classroom training sessions in Frankfurt and Bangkok, as well as our e-learning course “Certified Expert in Climate Adaptation Finance” and a webinar series. One personal highlight during the last year was our participation during the Adaptation Futures 2018 Conference in Cape Town, South Africa. Together with our project partner, the Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI) and the project donor, the International Research Development Centre (IDRC), we won a conference session where our fellows presented emerging lessons from climate insurance and risk pooling research in Africa and Asia. This was only one of the many others results and impacts we achieved with this project.
Now, having our first fellow graduates in September 2018, I feel honored to be part of their learning journey and to have supported and promoted them through advisory and lecturing. Fellows reported to us that the fellowship has made a significant change in their professional life, allowing them to expand business models for their respective companies and to incorporate climate related issues into daily management decisions and operations. Others got important jobs, for instance at the Green Climate Fund (GCF) or World Bank (WB), where their work has a direct impact for the future of the climate finance agenda.
What’s next? Lessons learned and new challenges
Personally, I think that capacity-building through this new, innovative and interactive learning format that we are applying in this fellowship at FS Sustainable World Academy really makes a difference and can achieve substantial impact. The exchange of experience – for example on flood management, climate-resilient city planning, climate risk insurance and risk pools, or business cases for adaptation – between trainers, experts, the fellows and us generates new ideas, approaches and project ideas. I did not notice it in the beginning, but over this 18-month fellowship, we have become a big AFFP family and have made strong friendships around the globe, which I would not want to miss. The good thing is that we currently have the second generation of AFFP Fellows with us and hopefully many more.
Looking back, I think it was a good choice to enter to the field of climate and sustainable finance, which recently gained more attention in policy circles and the private/financial sector. We have to address current and future climate-related challenges to create a sustainable future for all of us.