background image

The case for an Action for Climate Empowerment Fund

author image

By John Leo Algo

· 4 min read

The 29th round of climate negotiations in Azerbaijan is poised to be a “finance” COP. Parties are slated to assess the progress of mobilizing finance for different aspects of global climate action, from the Loss and Damage Fund to closing the gaps on adaptation finance. 

Yet the biggest issue would be establishing a new collective quantified goal (NCQG), which should be much higher than the previous target of USD100 billion. Negotiators must show that lessons were learned from the latter figure's failures, especially as it was intended to be attained by 2020. 

How the NCQG would look, from the actual number to its scope, would vary across different countries, regions, and sectors. However, certain calls undoubtedly need to be included in this goal. One of these is a dedicated finance mechanism for implementing Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE).


ACE refers to Article 6 of the UNFCCC which covers six elements or priority areas: education, training, public awareness, public participation, access to information, and international cooperation. These are also reflected in Article 12 of the Paris Agreement, reinforcing the importance of these cross-cutting areas that would help attain global goals for facets of climate action, such as adaptation, mitigation, and loss and damage.

Aside from its multidimensional significance and applicability, ACE is also perhaps the workstream that is most directly relevant and accessible to children and youth. Its stronger implementation is pivotal for empowering generations of citizens who are likely more capable of addressing future climate change impacts, especially if Parties continue to fall short on scaling up global action.

Despite its recognized importance dating back to the UNFCCC text, ACE has not been given enough attention and support in the past few decades. For example, while its elements were mentioned in the technical report on the Global Stocktake, ACE was not mentioned in the document. 

While most NDCs feature at least one of the six priority areas, many countries still lack either a National ACE Strategy or a corresponding Focal Point, or both as of last November. Without the proper strategy or designated personnel, this workstream would remain a part of a growing list of climate goals that the world would fall short of achieving.

A dedicated ACE Fund would help address these gaps at the national and global levels, with trickle-down effects to enhance other aspects of climate action. It would also provide a guaranteed source of support for many projects led by young people and other marginalized groups regarding education, awareness-raising, and other elements. 

These, in turn, would also have co-benefits for attaining targets under other multilateral frameworks, such as the Sustainable Development Goals and the Global Action Programme for Education for Sustainable Development.

It could also complement other potential financial mechanisms for green education. For instance, UNESCO is currently exploring the establishment of a UN Multi-Partner Trust Fund focused on greening education, largely in support of the Greening Education Partnership. This would be part of coordinated UN programs aligned with UNESCO’s mandate, which creates an ideal complementarity between these two potential mechanisms.


This year’s ACE Dialogues will focus on tools and support, one of the four priority areas in the action plan under the Glasgow work programme. These provide the ideal platform to formally commence discussions leading to the potential establishment of an ACE Fund at a finance-focused COP29.

Sessions focusing on developing strong project proposals for relevant activities and mapping existing practices regarding child education are scheduled to take place in Bonn this June. Participating stakeholders can use the eventual outcomes of these sessions to conceptualize how such a financing mechanism would look and be operationalized.

One key aspect that must be included is that a potential ACE Fund must be grants-based. Given the workstream’s inherent focus on strengthening intergenerational and multisectoral actions for addressing the climate crisis with cross-cutting applications, this is an appropriate inclusion. 

In contrast to governing bodies under the UNFCCC on financing adaptation, mitigation, or loss and damage, an ACE Fund should also have a governing entity where non-government stakeholders, especially children and youth, are properly represented. Other marginalized groups and sectors whose participation should be prioritized include women and indigenous peoples.

The amount allotted to said Fund must also increase every few years, ideally aligned with the periodic updating of the NDCs and in anticipation of currently projected worsening climate change impacts barring drastic mitigation solutions. The elements of transparency and accountability must not also be forgotten in an ACE Fund.  

The workstream's wide scope would also allow innovative projects to tackle themes not as often emphasized under UNFCCC dialogues. Such themes would range from addressing digitalization and social media-based communications to popularizing human rights education in the context of the climate crisis.

With so much uncertainty regarding our collective ability to solve the climate crisis properly, financing breakthroughs are needed now more than ever. The time has come for the world to establish an ACE Fund for current and future generations.

Future Thought Leaders is a democratic space presenting the thoughts and opinions of rising Sustainability & Energy writers, their opinions do not necessarily represent those of illuminem.

Did you enjoy this illuminem voice? Support us by sharing this article!
author photo

About the author

John Leo Algo is the National Coordinator of Aksyon Klima Pilipinas, the Philippines's largest civil society network for climate action. He is also a member of the Youth Advisory Group for Environmental and Climate Justice, anchored in YECAP under agencies of the United Nations. He has been a climate and environment journalist since 2016.

Other illuminem Voices

Related Posts

You cannot miss it!

Weekly. Free. Your Top 10 Sustainability & Energy Posts.

You can unsubscribe at any time (read our privacy policy)