Peter King and Keith Bettinger

For the 13th APAN Exchange, Dr. Keith Bettinger, USAID Adapt Asia-Pacific’s Team Leader for Capacity Building is asking key questions on “Building Capacities to Prepare Good Projects and Access Climate Finance.”

Dr. King is the Adaptation Project Preparation and Finance Senior Advisor for the USAID Adapt Asia-Pacific project. Peter is also the Senior Policy Advisor at the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) Regional Centre based in Bangkok, Thailand.

The 13th Exchange Series

Topic: Building Capacities to Prepare Good Projects and Access Climate Finance

E-Discussion period: 15.11.2016 - 02.12.2016

E-Discussion Launch Email

Posted on 15 November 2016

Peter King and Keith Bettinger

Dear colleagues,


The annual COP season is upon us once again. While the UN climate talks(link is external) are ongoing in Marrakech, we at USAID Adapt Asia-Pacific(link is external) in Bangkok are continuing to develop and improve our activities to help governments build the skills needed to access financing for climate change adaptation.


Leading this effort is Keith Bettinger, the project’s new Team Leader for Capacity Building. Keith has been instrumental in designing and implementing some of our flagship capacity building programs, focusing on building up the region’s capacities to manage the project preparation process.


In this 13th APAN Exchange Series and in efforts to expand our discussion, I turn to Keith to share his experience working on these programs and to take this conversation forward. Importantly, I look to you, our growing community of practice, for your insights and to learn from you once again. Keith, over to you.


Thank you very much.


Dr. Peter N. King
Senior Advisor – Adaptation Project Preparation and Finance

USAID Adapt Asia-Pacific


Thank you, Peter.


Greetings and Aloha friends and colleagues – I’d like to pick your brains!


It is my pleasure to contribute for the first time to the APAN Exchange Series, which over the past few years has provided an extremely useful platform for the exchange of ideas on climate and development topics. As Peter has mentioned, my name is Keith Bettinger and I am the Team Leader for Capacity Building for the USAID Adapt-Asia Pacific (link is external)project.


Over the past few years I have worked to develop two courses for the project: Our Urban Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience Course,(link is external) and our Project Preparation and Finance course. Both of these courses have been implemented several times, and we have a number of deliveries planned for the future. These courses have enjoyed success not only because they build on the experiences and lessons learned from the past five years of the USAID Adapt-Asia Pacific project, but also because, in developing and refining these courses, we have listened to our colleagues that are working in the field to develop adaptation strategies which inform the design of bankable adaptation projects.


With this in mind, and in the spirit of constantly improving our services and responding to demonstrated needs, I come to you in this Exchange with a number of questions that will draw on your experience to inform the future direction of USAID Adapt-Asia Pacific’s capacity building efforts. All of us here at USAID Adapt-Asia Pacific would be greatly appreciative if you would address as many of these questions as you can.


1. One of the most common issues I’ve encountered in conversations with people working to develop bankable adaptation projects is that there is a widespread lack of capacity to actually design bankable projects. Is this consistent with your experience? And if so, how do we unpack this “lack of capacity” to identify specific areas where we can make a difference through training and mentoring? What skills and competencies are most needed?


2. In designing our project preparation and finance course, we approached the task from the perspective that government officials, in most cases, will not be doing the actual design work for adaptation projects for the Green Climate Fund,(link is external) Adaptation Fund,(link is external) and other financiers. Rather, they will be supervising this process. To us this means that these officials can play a strong role in ensuring quality in the design process. However, in many cases we have found that government officials and agencies play a “rubber stamping” role, simply approving the project design, which can lead to sub-optimal outcomes. In your experience, how can government agencies and officials play a more active role in ensuring good project design, without intervening too much and without obstructing the process? And how can we transfer these lessons through capacity building activities?  


3. We are currently developing a guidebook for designing adaptation projects that takes a very practical approach to managing the process of project preparation. This tool will be based on the USAID Adapt-Asia Pacific experience as well as a comprehensive review of dozens of adaptation projects that have already been funded and/or implemented. The guidebook takes a step-by-step approach to help navigate the process of developing bankable projects, and also provides diagnostic questions to help users assess the quality and completeness of their project proposal documents. Based on your experience, what sorts of information would be most useful in a guide like this? How can we ensure that the guide is responsive to the needs of agencies and organizations that are working on adaptation projects?


4. We recognize that the world of climate change adaptation finance is rapidly evolving, and in developing and updating our capacity building materials we endeavor to be as current as possible and to respond to emerging trends and opportunities. With this in mind, and given that COP22(link is external) is upon us, what are the most important developments in adaptation finance, and how can we map these developments to specific skills and capacities in our training materials?


Although I have a million other questions I’d like to ask you, I’ll stop with four. I greatly look forward to seeing your responses and engaging in a discussion on these topics. As professionals tackling the greatest challenge of our times, we’re all in this together, and one of the greatest assets we have is our accumulated experience and expertise.


Many thanks,


Dr. Keith Bettinger
Team Leader for Capacity Building

USAID Adapt Asia-Pacific