Action Learning Support to CAPE – Climate Action Peer Exchange


Climate Action Peer Exchange (CAPE) is a forum for peer learning, knowledge sharing, and mutual advisory support. It brings together ministers and senior technical specialists from finance ministries across the world, as well as World Bank staff and other international experts, to discuss the fiscal challenges involved in implementing the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) established under the 2015 Paris Agreement. The South-South Facility (SSF) Action Learning Support to CAPE was initiated to guide, quality assure and administer several key activities focused on a) knowledge exchanges (KE) in the form of technical workshops and expert visits/study tours; b) A virtual platform anchoring various activities over time and connecting experts. With SSF support, seven technical knowledge exchanges were successfully implemented over a period of almost three years and a virtual platform was successfully established at connecting experts and establishing a central hub for relevant expertise and exchange.

The project contributed to three important global achievements: i) launch of the Coalition of Finance Ministers for Climate Action; ii) Signing of the ‘Helsinki Principles’ by 50 countries, a set of six principles that promote national climate action, especially through fiscal policy and the use of public finance and; ii) adoption of the Santiago Action Plan which proposes a cross-thematic work program built around the core principles of the six Helsinki principles.



Ministries of Finance all around the world face distinct (political and technical) challenges in the development and operationalization of sound fiscal policies to implement the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).



Climate Action Peer Exchange (CAPE) was introduced as a forum for peer learning, knowledge sharing, and mutual advisory support, envisaging the sharing of experiences and knowledge related to the revenue, expenditure and financing side of fiscal policies employed by Ministries of Finance to implement the NDCs. Making this vision a reality is a long-term endeavor, but through facilitated knowledge exchanges and a virtual platform, the CAPE activity has moved in the last years from a newly established initiative to a recognized global body for continuous exchange of expertise between finance ministries at both technical and senior political levels. The technical exchange and benefit reinforced the political commitment to continue and expand the CAPE work in the years ahead.


Lessons Learned

1. Technical exchanges strengthened political commitment

The combination of multiple technical exchanges over time all anchored in a strong virtual platform connecting experts - as supported through this ASA - formed a strong basis for the further development and professionalization of CAPE as global initiative and helped create the necessary political commitment as well. Creating the basis for actual peer reviews of each other’s policies will still take more time and may need to start modestly through, for example, brown bag lunches with a guest speaker in specific countries. At the 2018 WB and IMF Annual Meetings in Bali, Indonesia, governments from 39 countries came together to boost their collective engagement on climate action. Several governments expressed strong support for the development of a Coalition of Finance Ministers, which would promote cohesion between domestic and global action on climate change, boost ambitions, reaffirm commitments, and accelerate actions to implement the Paris Agreement. In December 2018, the Finance Ministers of Finland and Chile, supported by the World Bank's CAPE initiative, agreed to co-lead the Coalition and invited other governments to meet and discuss its structure, focus, and goals for the coming two years. The Coalition will help countries mobilize and align the finance needed to implement their national climate action plans; establish best practices such as climate budgeting and strategies for green investment and procurement; and factor climate risks and vulnerabilities into members’ economic planning.


2. While SSF funding was critical, CAPE had to leverage other funding as well

The financial resources through this ASA gave necessary and flexible funding for several critical knowledge exchange activities. Different from previous funding windows under the Facility where funding was provided for a single exchange (or study tour), here a longer term window was given (three-years) and more budget was allocated to create more sustainable impact through South-South exchange and provide quality assurance and guidance from a senior knowledge specialist along the way. Large funding over a longer period and with such quality assurance and guidance for specific events and for strengthening momentum and results throughout implementation, proved useful. It also became clear, during implementation, that not all necessary CAPE activities could be (fully) funded through this ASA given the explicit focus on 'South-South'. Activities in the 'northern hemisphere' such as in Finland where hence funded through other channels. CAPE was able to focus the activities of this ASA to align with the SSF regulations and managed to leverage several other funding streams to support more 'northern activities' effectively. A lesson in this regard is that initiatives that get funding support from SSF benefit from having additional sources of funding at the same time when it comes to global initiatives.


Beneficiaries / Participants

A large number of technical and political officials have participated in the events which led to more formal country memberships in the Coalition of the following 51 member countries:



World Bank Contribution

CAPE is a contribution of the WBG to the NDC Partnership and was launched in Washington D.C. during the 2017 WB-IMF Spring Meetings as a programmatic technical assistance: 'CMC: Climate Action Peer Exchange of Finance Ministries'. Currently the Secretariat to the Coalition of Finance Ministers for Climate Action is hosted at the World Bank Headquarters in Washington DC and managed by the World Bank Group. The Secretariat provides day-to-day operational, technical and logistical support to the Co-chairs and Sherpas of the Coalition and plays a convening role for all ministerial and thematic engagements. Seven knowledge exchanges and the development of a virtual platform were funded by - and received knowledge management guidance - through the World Bank’s South-South Facility.


Moving forward

Early 2019, the creation of a new TA task was proposed, called ‘Coalition of Finance Ministers for Climate Action (P166750)’. The review meeting of the concept note, co-chaired by the Global Director, Macro, Trade, and Investment Global Practice and the Senior Director, Climate Change Group, concluded that the needs of the Coalition are adequately met at present through current arrangements, whereby WB support to the Coalition is provided through CAPE, hosted in MTI in close collaboration with CCG.



1. Seven knowledge exchanges created clear outputs and increased momentum over three years

Under this ASA, seven high-quality technical exchange activities over a three-year time period helped put “meat to the bone” when it came to exchange of experience:

  • September 2017: Catalyzing fiscal policies for climate action in China (China)
  • September 2017: Environmental fiscal reforms for low carbon growth (Colombia)
  • January 2018: Smart fiscal policy for climate action (Tanzania)
  • April 2018: Fiscal Policy for NDCs and Green Investment at Africa Carbon Forum (Kenya)
  • September 2018: Climate Change Budget Tagging (CCBT) (Uganda)
  • January 2019: Fiscal Policy for Climate Action in the Caribbean (St Kitts and Nevis)
  • June 2019: Second Sherpa meeting (Chile)

Outputs are reported on in detail for each of these activities in this report and publicly assessible through the CAPE site/platform described below.


2. Platform has been established and is being used which sets up for a sustainable community

A virtual platform (see screenshot below) was successfully established at connecting experts and establishing a central hub for relevant expertise and exchange. As per February 2020, 35 organizations were contributing to the platform through making available reports, articles, tools and learning materials. Five blogs have been published through the site and information is actively shared in all focus areas as well as on the newly introduced Helsinki principles. Since there are many activities and ideas being developed continuously, the platform helps understand historical achievements as well as current challenges.


3. Contribution to new commitments and sustained country ownership

Leveraging on the knowledge exchanges mainly at the (senior) technical level, political commitment

strengthened as well. At a Ministerial Meeting during the 2018 Annual WB-IMF Meetings, governments from nearly 40 countries strongly supported the establishment of a Coalition of Finance Ministers that would promote collective action to fight climate change, boost ambition, reaffirm commitment and accelerate implementation of the Paris Agreement. In December 2018, the Ministers from Finland and Chile agreed to co-lead this Coalition to share best practices and experiences on macro, fiscal and public financial management policies for low-carbon, climate-resilient growth. The World Bank serves as secretariat for the Coalition, partnering with the International Monetary Fund and other institutions to provide strategic and technical support to the Co-Chairs and Members. On February 21-22, 2019, a “Sherpas” meeting of the Coalition was convened in Helsinki. The Sherpas articulated six “Helsinki Principles”, underlining Finance Ministers’ commitment to the implementation of the Paris Agreement, which were endorsed by Ministers at the launch of the Coalition during the WB-IMF Spring Meetings in April 2019. A second Sherpa meeting, hosted by the Finance Minister of Chile in June 2019, drafted the Santiago Action Plan for pursuing the Helsinki Principles, which was released at the COP25 in Madrid. Membership has now reached 52 countries.

The Santiago Action Plan proposes a cross-thematic work program built around the six core elements of the Helsinki Principles,  which underpin the commitment of Finance Ministers to: align policy actions with the Paris Agreement (Helsinki Principle 1); promote capacity building, and mutual exchange of knowledge and expertise (Helsinki Principle 2); work towards measures that result in effective carbon pricing (Helsinki Principle 3); integrate climate change in macroeconomic management and public finance (Helsinki Principle 4); mobilize private climate finance and develop a financial sector that recognizes mitigation and adaptation (Helsinki Principle 5); and engage as a key stakeholder in the preparation and implementation of the NDCs (Helsinki Principle 6).


Detailed results of knowledge exchange activities

Seven KEs created clear outputs and built up momentum and interest over three years

For a number of important reforms on which the participating countries would like to show each other the results, it is important to witness the realization on the ground. The effects of fiscal policy on fuel extraction industries in Indonesia, for example, require not only understanding the fiscal schemes but also the extraction sites to which they apply. This also applies for the interaction of fiscal instruments with REDD+ forestry projects. Also, Morocco’s reform of eliminating the subsidies for motor fuels and investing the receipts into public transportation can only really be experienced in the country. Vietnam’s system for climate-sensitive budgeting involves so intricate details that understanding it requires face-to-face interactions at the ministry level. For these reasons, there were two expert visits / study tours planned per year, during which a small group of program leaders from one country would visit a country that has recently undertaken a reform similar to the one their country is currently exploring. Under this deliverable, several key activities were sponsored by the SSF contribution to CAPE and often leveraged with additional funding sources as well:


1. September 12-15, 2017: Training workshop on ‘Fiscal Policy for Climate Action’ was held in Shanghai, China. Jointly organized by the CAPE Secretariat and the Asia-Pacific Finance and Development Institute (AFDI), the workshop delivered a comprehensive knowledge package covering environmental fiscal policies, energy subsidy reforms, climate budgeting techniques and innovative debt financing. By drawing widely from expertise within the World Bank, the workshop featured instructors from the Macro Fiscal Management Global Practice, the Climate Change Group, and Environment and Natural Resources Global Practice. Senior technical staff from finance ministries of 13 countries in East and South Asia countries were in attendance (Indonesia, Laos, Maldives, Mongolia, Nepal, Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Fiji), as well as the World Bank’s Macroeconomics and Fiscal Management Global Practice senior economists working on East Asia & Pacific countries. In line with CAPE’s purpose of fostering peer exchange, countries also took center stage when they shared their own country experiences. Mr. Wilson Yung from National Climate Change Secretariat of Singapore presented the design and implementation arrangements of carbon taxation in Singapore. Mr. Rolando Toledo, Director of Fiscal Planning Bureau of Philippines, provided participants with an in-depth view of the implementation of national climate budgeting system in the Philippines. Participants also engaged in case exercises that took them into the practical application of environmental fiscal tools. Centered around the fictional country of Greentopia, participants gained first-hand experience in introducing a carbon tax, applying fiscal risk assessment models and establishing a climate budgeting system – bringing to life the theoretical content presented in the course. The interactive exercise proved to be a very useful way of driving home the importance of environmental fiscal policies and the need to integrate climate risks into the budgeting process. On the final day of the workshop, participants toured the Suzhou Creek Rehabilitation Project and learned from the project leader of this ambitious cleanup program. The program’s ingredients for success included sound systems analysis, integrated engineering plans, and the consultative approach adopted by the Shanghai Government in implementing the Project. From its inception in 1998, the Shanghai Municipal authorities launched this 12-year-program of integrated projects to improve wastewater management, sewage collection treatment and disposal; relocate solid waste processing wharves and reconstruct the embankments; and introduce water resource management and quality control methods. The benefits in terms of improved water quality, living standards, and emission reductions were all evident. Overall, the workshop was successful in meeting its objectives of knowledge exchange, capacity development and partnership and outreach for finance ministries. This exercise will hopefully equip participants with basic tools to deal with climate change and the increased frequency of induced natural disasters. The real power of CAPE is the knowledge sharing and confidence building among finance ministries through regular interaction and exchange between peers. CAPE will continue carrying out training workshops, introducing country and regional level case studies and practical experiences, and fostering dialogue on fiscal policy for climate change.


2. September 28-29, 2017: CAPE high-level workshop "Environmental Fiscal Reforms for Low Carbon Growth" was held in Bogota. Colombia. At the first CAPE Partnership meeting in Washington D.C., during the 2017 WB-IMF Spring Meetings, the Colombian Finance Minister, Mauricio Cárdenas Santamaría, described how Colombia was planning to implement its NDCs, including the introduction of a carbon tax on fossil fuels. He expressed his personal commitment to the CAPE initiative and offered to host a CAPE workshop in Bogota. Following on that announcement, the CAPE high-level workshop "Environmental Fiscal Reforms for Low Carbon Growth" was jointly organized by the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit of Colombia and the CAPE Secretariat in Bogota, Colombia, on September 28 and 29 with 200 participants from Latin America. The workshop followed a technical training workshop in Shanghai targeted at EAP and SAR countries and built on CAPE’s objective of  providing a platform for finance ministers to identify challenges and share best practices for climate action and for the successful implementation of their respective NDCs. In the opening session, Minister Cárdenas, welcomed the Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development, Luis Gilberto Murillo, and the Senior Director of Environment and Natural Resources of the World Bank, Karin Erika Kemper and declared: "Colombia is committed to the fiscal policies and reforms that help us successfully implement the Paris Accord, as evidenced by the last year's Structural Tax Reform, which included a carbon tax and other provisions linked to our agenda of environmental sustainability. From the implementation of carbon taxes to the adoption of policy actions to strengthen social and economic resilience, finance ministers today have access to a wide range of instruments to help their countries manage the effects of climate change". The workshop was broadcasted widely. Minister Cárdenas and his team extensively used social media vehicles to advertise and cover the workshop. In addition to Facebook live coverage, over 2 million Twitter accounts were reached with exposure to almost 15 million accounts, thus attracting strong interest from the local media. Among the experts who attended the forum were government representatives and international speakers from Mexico, Chile, Peru, Brazil, Canada, Norway and the United States.

The four sessions of the workshop focused on:

  • Financing the transformation to a low-carbon and climate resilient economy
  • Regional cooperation to fight climate change
  • Fiscal reforms for climate action
  • Financing forest conservation and fighting deforestation


Key takeaways from these sessions included the following: Renewable energy has become a reality in Latin America and some of these technologies already outcompete fossil fuels. Although these technologies have driven the regional transition to low-carbon economies in the past decade, financing a long-term energy transformation requires substantial additional investments, targeted public finance, and innovative financing models. Panelists discussed different instruments to mobilize an expected annual gap of U$ 700 million needed in the energy sector alone for a transition to a low carbon economy in 2030, in light with the growing climate funds and green banking initiatives. Panelists recognized the immensity of the challenge and agreed that a blend of policy measures, climate finance and carbon finance will be needed. The panelists focused in the ongoing and advanced dialogue at regional level aiming at strengthening regional climate action and cooperation. Despite of the political difficulty of engaging carbon-intensive countries, given competitiveness fears, panelists stressed that the advantages of international cooperation in implementing NDCs at a cost-efficient manner are clear (i.e., same resources result in larger emission reductions in jurisdictions with lower abatement costs). Finally, it was discussed how to effectively tackle climate change through the implementation of effective fiscal policies at international level, including an international carbon market aiming at reducing abatement costs and increasing global ambition; and how to develop an enabling and broader cooperation strategy. Government officials from Chile and Peru shared experiences with fiscal policies towards green growth. They presented the payment for environmental services considered in Peru and the ambitious green tax reform implemented in Chile, respectively. Also, they emphasized that, even with relatively low prices, the implementation of those tools provided clear and strong signals to private sector on where their economies are headed (i.e., in case of Chile, after the introduction of the US$ 5/tCO2 carbon tax, the energy sector companies announced the elimination of all thermopower plants from their investment plans). The alignment of carbon taxes with other fiscal policies, including GHG emissions trading systems, were also discussed. The latter follows the example of several subnational jurisdictions in the US and Canada with different climate-related policies co-existing in harmony. Forest landscapes are central to the economic and social fabric of Latin America and the Caribbean, and essential to the region’s prospects for sustainable development. Learnings from different countries – Mexico, Colombia, and Norway – on opportunities and requirements for transformative change were discussed: fiscal reforms (i.e., carbon tax) and incentives (i.e., or reduction in property taxes or forest bond or carbon payments to communities) that could help to reduce deforestation or can be used to finance sustainable forest management, reforestation, and conservation. Also, integrated programs that focus not only on the climate economy (i.e., Payment for ton of Carbon sequestered and REDD+), but also on developing the potential for the entire forests economy (plantations, sustainable forest management, bioeconomy, ecotourism, production of ecosystem services, conservation, landscape restoration, SME in Forests etc.) were recommended. Finally, engaging with the private sector in PPP for Forest and Landscape Management, Restoration and Conservation was highlighted as the next frontier. Fighting deforestation not only from inside the forest sector, but also from other sector looking at the driver of deforestation and the entire landscape, and the role of biodiversity as a key input to make the forest more productive was brought to the attention of the public. Overall, the workshop in Bogota reaffirmed the critical role of finance ministries in fighting climate change and the importance of sharing efforts to use fiscal instruments in implementing the NDCs.


3. January 23-25, 2018, a training workshop on 'Smart Fiscal Policy for Climate Action” was held in Arusha, Tanzania in collaboration with the Macroeconomic Financial Management Institute of Eastern and Southern Africa (MEFMI). Report on Tanzania KE:


4. The Africa Carbon Forum brought together policymakers and practitioners to discuss the latest developments related to climate change policy, carbon markets and finance. Its goal is to share knowledge on innovative solutions in the context of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and other strategies, and to explore possibilities for collaboration on regional and global climate change initiatives. At the 2018 Africa Carbon Forum in Nairobi, Kenya, the CAPE joined forces with the Green Fiscal Policy Network to organize the High-Level segment on “Fiscal Policy to support NDCs and mobilize Green Investments”. The session took place on April 12, 2018 and touched on a spectrum of fiscal issues related to advancing NDCs and climate policy implementation. Public finance for green investment and climate policy implementation can be channeled in various ways – such as in the form of public investment programs or provided as fiscal incentives that work alongside regulatory measures. Carbon taxes and fossil fuel subsidy reforms are effective fiscal instruments for climate policy. They provide the necessary price signal to shift consumer and business behavior, which will also stimulate private financial flows to low-carbon investments. These fiscal instruments are considered cost-effective and efficient from the perspective of tax design and GHG mitigation.

Dr Mulugeta Mengist Ayalew, Director of Climate Change Affairs from the Office of the Prime Minister of Ethiopia spoke on “Exploring Carbon Price in a Low-Income Country”. Ethiopia aims to attain lower middle-income status by 2025 and has put forward a Climate Resilient Green Economy (CRGE) Strategy to chart a sustainable pathway to this goal. The carbon tax is one option in the policy package for the CRGE, and a CGE modelling study was commissioned to inform deliberations on the final choice of policy instruments for CRGE. The speaker reviewed the preliminary findings of the modelling study, including growth impacts, emissions impact (predicted to reduce by 17% reduction in the covered sectors, or equivalent to 2% reduction of the national baseline), and revenue potential of up to $800M. Various revenue recycling options were studied, including a reduction in direct and/or indirect taxes, and increased public investments and social spending. As stressed in the speaker’s remarks and from questions received, further analytical work and other considerations will be taken into account before any decision on the inclusion of a carbon tax. Analysis should include in-depth studies on distributional impacts and a fully designed revenue package. Issues related to tax avoidance and the granting of exemptions would also need to be part of tax design. Ethiopia’s emissions profile is characteristic of other low-income African countries, where land-use emissions command a large share. Landholdings are often as small as one hectare, and the number of emission sources to be regulated under a tax would lead to insurmountable administrative and financial costs. The Ethiopia example illustrates that a carbon tax on fuel combustion can still be a relevant policy response in such a situation, by efficiently addressing some sectors while relying on non-tax measures for others.

The presentation by Mr. Hubert Ruzibiza, CEO of FONERWA, the Rwanda Green Fund, served to illustrate the use of statutory instruments to provide financial support to green growth and climate policy objectives. FONERWA was established in 2017 as a legal entity for the purpose of receiving and managing public and other funds for green growth, such as projects in waste management, clean energy, land-use management. The public financial contribution to FONERWA is derived from revenue from pollution levies and other environmental charges. FONERWA was also able to attract capital contributions from donors and demonstrates how public funds can be deployed to crowd-in private finance. There were questions from the floor about FONERWA’s investment priorities, which highlighted the interest in forest and land-use projects. In his response, the speaker made reference to the carbon tax presentation and opined that an economy-wide tax could be a more reliable source of capital for a national investment fund than environmental levies and penalty payments.

The final presentation by Mr. Maged K. Mahmoud, Technical Director of the Regional Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (RCEEEE), focused on policy interventions that can support clean energy projects. Drawing from experience among the RCEEEE’s membership in Middle East and North Africa, the speaker pointed to the publicly-funded support programs such as Feed-in-Tariffs, end-user rebates for clean energy, duty exemption for clean energy technology, and direct public financing for land and supporting infrastructure that are critical for privately-sponsored clean energy projects. RCREEE has also supported clean energy through research and capacity building on the technical requirements for integrating renewable energy sources into electricity grids. In his remarks, the speaker drew a regional comparison to FONERWA and pointed to Tunisia’s Transition Fund which is financed by general public resources rather than a specific tax source. In summary, a carbon tax provides an incentive towards low-emission technologies and generates revenue for investments. For an effective carbon tax, policy makers must consider numerous technical issues ranging from sector coverage, and impacts to competitiveness and welfare, as well as the political economy. A publicly backed investment fund is one way of focusing resources and attention on climate change and green growth, and these can be designed to attract private financing as well. To ensure a robust pipeline of climate/green investments, additional fiscal incentives can be designed and targeted at specific sectors – such as clean energy. These include tax expenditures and financing of associated public works.

On the margins of the forum, CAPE also facilitated a bilateral peer exchange between two countries on the carbon tax. Ethiopia has set its ambitions on attaining lower middle-income status by 2025 and has set forth this goal in its Second Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP II). The Ministry of Finance has also placed importance on addressing climate issues and has unveiled a Climate Resilient Green Economy strategy and plan. South Africa is an upper middle income country and has been developing carbon tax legislation for some years. In debating and designing its carbon tax, the South African government acknowledged its part in reducing global emissions but will need to account for the energy intensive nature of its economy and the need to maintain economic growth and protect vulnerable households. South Africa has legislated that the carbon tax would go into effect in 2019.


5. On September 25, 2018 a technical work session was held in Kampala, Uganda, in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance Planning and Economic development (MoFPED) to mark the pilot implementation of the Climate Change Budget Tagging (CCBT) system to identify and track climate-relevant public expenditures in Uganda. Report on Uganda KE:


6. On January 21-23, 2019, a workshop on “'Fiscal Policy for Climate Action in the Caribbean” was held in the St. Kitts and Nevis to discuss fiscal reforms for a low carbon growth transition in the Caribbean, climate-informed budget processes, and debt and risk management instruments. Report on Caribbean KE:


7. On June 4-5, 2020, the Coalition of Finance Ministers for Climate Action held its second Sherpa meeting in Santiago, Chile. With SSF support, the meeting featured technical experts from 18 member countries, as well as representatives from partner institutions such as the NDC Partnership, UNEP, and UNFCCC. The Coalition engaged with countries leading action on the Helsinki Principles, and initiated the development of an action plan to organize its governance and streamline its activities. Report on CAPE Second Sherpa meeting:



The circle of partners supporting CAPE has broadened rapidly. Currently, institutional partners play key technical and advisory roles in supporting the efforts of Finance Ministers in designing and implementing policies to address climate change. Institutional partners are particularly relevant in providing technical support to the six Coalition workstreams on Paris Alignment, Carbon Pricing, Green Budgeting, Green Financial Sector and NDC Support and Implementation and include. Current institutional partners can be found on the site.


Results Story Author: Robin van Kippersluis

Photo: Coalition of Finance Ministers Meeting during the World Bank Annual Meetings