NDF - Financing for climate change and development projects

Board chair Lars Roth sees NDF positioned to continue punching above its weight in combating climate change

Photo: Marjo Koivumäki
Lars Roth, NDF Chair of the Board of Directors
Illustration: Sanna Turunen

Greater focus on Blue economy to strengthen NDF profile, says Roth

In opening remarks on the occasion of NDF’s 30-year journey in development aid and 10 years in climate financing, Board Chair, Lars Roth reminded an audience of 100 stakeholders in Helsinki that the Climate Emergency is real and the time to act is now.

 “We are the first generation to feel the effects of climate change and the last generation, who can do anything about it,” warned Roth, quoting former US President Barack Obama. “This is why we need to build on all the tools we have and – based on the results achieved so far – NDF is part of this toolbox.”

Looking back on successes so far
After congratulating and thanking NDF’s staff and partners, Roth looked back over the organisation’s original mandate to strengthen development cooperation among the Nordics, while promoting concessional financing in the developing world. More recently in 2009, NDF’s mandate shifted to take on climate change and development, and, within the last 10 years, has successfully grown a portfolio of 107 climate mitigation and adaptation projects.

Roth then went on to reassure NDF stakeholders, he was not only there to look backwards, but that forward-thinking efforts were underway at board level and the Nordic capitals to agree on a long-term strategy which seeks to define the future role and added-value of the NDF within the multilateral climate financing architecture, including future financial resources.

NDF well positioned following positive evaluation
Roth’s future positive outlook is backed by a positive third-party evaluation, recently released, which found that NDF is well-positioned to continue playing an outsized role in the global climate financing arena.

“NDF has delivered more than what you can expect given its relative size in terms of staff and its financial resources,” says Roth, who also praised NDF’s role as an innovative financier, in providing much needed early-stage financing and de-risking, in private sector climate adaptation projects.

Greater focus on Blue Economy would add portfolio strength
As a Swedish National, Roth, in a follow-up interview, talked about his own country’s climate agenda in the NDF context.
“From our point of view, what would strengthen the NDF’s profile going forward is a greater focus on ecosystems and livelihoods, including what is now being called the Blue Economy, as the nexus of climate change, oceans and biodiversity,” Roth explains.

Blue Economy is an emerging concept that encourages better stewardship of oceans, or ‘blue’ resources, while accelerating the adoption of clean technologies, renewable energy and creating circular material flows. Blue Economy is high on the agenda at home in Sweden at government and policy level. In 2017, Sweden lead a big UN conference focused on saving the world’s oceans and Roth says “we’ve been building on that ever since.”
To underscore this, Roth points out that Sweden as a follow up to the UN conference has an Ambassador for Oceans, a position that seems unique to Sweden.

“But don’t get me wrong, NDF has already been doing things for Blue Economy,” Roth affirms. “So, it’s not about shifting to something completely different, but rather that we would see stepping up in this area as bringing a lot of new value,” says Roth, adding: “These are the kinds of strategic discussions we’re having at board level now.”

Landmark event attracts high-calibre audience
Coming back to NDF’s anniversary, Roth rounded off his comments with a plug for NDF’s ability to attract such a large and high-calibre guest list, including panellists from Africa and North America.
“Given that the NDF name is not so well known, this is a great event and a great turnout,” said Roth. “And from today, I believe we will have many more good ambassadors for NDF.”

Written by Laurel Colless

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