The issue of bankability is a common bottleneck faced by cities to scaling-up investment for sustainable infrastructure. Mobilizing resources to finance investments and services at the municipal level represents a big challenge particularly for mid-size cities. The local government often lack resources and capacity to move forward projects from concept note to feasibility and on for investment. As a result, large numbers of project ideas that can contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation never reach the stage of investment readiness. Project preparation and the completion of the pre-investment cycle are essential steps in achieving project bankability.
The newly announced City Climate Finance Gap Fund, an initiative of GCOM and the German and Luxembourg Government, will support project preparation activities for low-carbon and resilient urban infrastructure projects. The Gap Fund will provide technical assistance at project definition and pre-feasibility stages. Taking the advantage of the opportunity given by Gap Fund, IUC Asia is playing the role to assist pilot cities in order to prepare the Gap Fund application.
On 20 April 2020, a conference call was organized by IUC Help Desk among the Penampang District stakeholders and IUC Asia team. The meeting started with introduction by Councillor Freddy Ekol about repeated occurrences of major flooding in Penampang, which expected in May and June this year as a result of heavy rainfall forecast. Flood prevention is proposed to be a top priority project in seeking Gap Fund.
Piero Remitti as a lead expert climate action of IUC Asia presented the workplan in regard to preparation of Gap Fund. Early stage information needs to be compiled, for instance, the brief description of project, the estimated amount of investment, the information on blended finance, stakeholder involvement, co-benefits and sustainability performance.
Pritchard Gumbaris of political secretary to Penampang MP Datuk Darell Leiking delivered the updated on measures to prevent and mitigate the impact of floods by Federal Goverment. Some efforts have included deepening the river channel, building the moon son drain, water gate and basin. Some are residents who have signed the land acquisition but have yet to vacate their land, thus hampering the progress of mitigation program. Another issue in which he expressed concern for was the uncontrolled hill cutting and land filling activities in Penampang. He urged the importance of flood early warning systems to improve people’s preparedness in anticipating floods in addition to bio retention ponds.
Justin Sentian of University Malaysia Sabah underlined that climate change scenario will be very useful in managing flooding risk and hazards, vulnerability future flooding and incorporation of effective mitigation and adaptation strategies. Also, he added the need to carry out the integrated hydraulic and hydrological modelling to assess flooding vulnerability of the river basin under present and future climate scenarios. By doing these models, highly vulnerable area will be easily identified.
Ho Chin Siong and Loon Wai Chau from UTM-Low Carbon Asia Research Centre pointed out the co-benefits of bio retention ponds. It will serve not only for recreational park but also providing an additional green open space to local community and improving the biodiversity/ecosystem to the city. In addition, they highlighted the need to focus on priority as flood mitigation covers the infrastructure improvement (e.g. deepening the river channel, building bio retention pond) and non-infrastructure work(e.g. public education, awareness campaign, flood warning system, and evacuation points etc).
Boyd Dionysius Jouman at Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) came with the same agreement with UTM to treat the Gap fund to complement the funds already allocated by Governments.
The meeting was closed with the agreement on sorting out some possible projects to be given priority in the proposal. As a start point, some possible projects have included flood early warning system, bio retention ponds and hydrological modelling for flooding vulnerability assessment.