Dr Oldman Oduetse Koboto is Adviser and Manager of the Commonwealth Climate Finance Access Hub (CCFAH), based in Mauritius. He leads CCFAH’s work to support Commonwealth countries – particularly small and other vulnerable states – in unlocking international climate finance to enable climate action.

Tell us a bit about your background and how you came to work as Adviser and Head of the Commonwealth Climate Finance Access Hub (CCFAH)?

I joined the Commonwealth Climate Finance Access Hub as Manager and Adviser in 2022. It has always been my passion to make a real difference for countries, communities and people, in the area of climate change.

I hold a doctorate degree in Public International law, specialising in Climate Change. I have held several portfolios in the government of Botswana including Prosecution Counsel, Legal Adviser to the Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, and Director for the Department of Wildlife and National Parks. I also served as the Environment and Climate Change Specialist at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Botswana before re-joining the government as the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resource Conservation and Tourism.

What does CCFAH do and what is the most impactful aspect of its work in Commonwealth countries?

CCFAH launched operations in 2016, with the aim of supporting small states and other vulnerable countries in the Commonwealth to access climate finance. This is achieved by embedding long-term climate finance experts within government ministries to support project proposal development, policy support, human and institutional capacity building and knowledge management and learning all anchored with gender and youth mainstreaming.

So far, CCFAH has helped mobilise more than US$310 million for climate projects in 14 countries as well as the Africa region. We’ve also trained over 2500 officials in 13 countries in different climate finance-related fields. The training provides the basis for understanding climate solutions developed by our experts, as well as opportunities for replication across countries.

Ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference COP28 in Dubai, how are you supporting Commonwealth countries heading into negotiations?

The CCFAH has been conducting essential training – within the Commonwealth and beyond – to enhance the capacity of climate change negotiators to negotiate effectively. The training demystifies the COP process (“Conference of the Parties” to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change – UNFCCC), helping participants understand its jurisprudence, legal frameworks and principles, and means of implementation.

It further unpacks the UNFCCC rule book, its forums for negotiations, country tactics, as well as approaches to developing national priorities, positions and intervention statements for technical sessions.

So far, we have been able to train nearly 140 representatives (75 women and 63 men) from nine countries (eight in Africa and one in the Pacific), to effectively engage in COP28 negotiations. We are also developing training manuals and toolkits based on the experiences gained during the training. We hope to conduct more sessions focusing on youth and women in 2024.

What are three key lessons that emerged from these negotiation workshops that would be useful for other small states or climate vulnerable countries who wish to secure better outcomes?

* Preparations for the Climate Change COP negotiations are a process and not an activity. Countries need to prepare well ahead of time including contributing to the development of COP Agenda, regional and political bloc positions.

*Most of the people participating in the climate change negotiation process may not have the technical capacity to comprehend the climate change negotiations.

*Climate change negotiations training is critical not only to enhance effective engagement at negotiations but also for domestication and implementation of climate actions at national level.

Why is it important to amplify the voice of small states and climate vulnerable nations at these negotiations and what can we expect at COP28?

Climate change negotiations are a party-driven process. It is therefore important that the small and vulnerable countries understand that they have equal rights to contribute and direct the process using the established tools and frameworks for negotiations. As the most vulnerable groups, they must play a critical role in defining and informing proposed climate solutions and narratives, so that interventions are relevant and targeted to their needs.

At COP28, we expect clear guidance on the operationalisation of the Loss and Damage Fund including design parameters on eligibility, inclusivity, and scale. This fund is of paramount importance as it aims to provide financial assistance to nations most vulnerable and impacted by the effects of climate change.

COP28 will also deliver the Global Stocktake report – the first five-yearly evaluation of the world’s progress on the Paris Agreement. We expect clear guidance on next steps, so that we can make the necessary adjustments to strategic approaches to supporting climate action and solutions.