Green Climate Fund: calling for local access to climate finance

Local organisations and groups must be given access to climate finance from the Green Climate Fund. They know exactly what is happening in their local context and what is required for climate adaptation.

At the UN Climate Change Conference in 2010, the 194 member states of the UN agreed to allocate at least 100 billion dollars a year to the climate from 2020. A large part of this climate money was to be managed and distributed through a new Green Climate Fund. The idea is that the governments and the private sector in the rich countries – which have been causing climate change for many years – take their responsibility and deposit money in the fund. Half of the money is intended to be used to combat and reduce climate change (mitigation) and the other half to help deal with the consequences of rising temperatures, which are already becoming apparent. It is the poorest countries, which have contributed the least to climate change, that suffer most from the consequences and they can use the funds to protect themselves and adapt to climate change.

Difficult road to accreditation

The Green Climate Fund has far-reaching ambitions. It focuses on climate-proof development, inclusive and gender-specific financing, and access to climate financing for the countries that are most vulnerable to climate change. In practice, little has yet come of these ambitions. The Fund mainly gives accreditation to financial institutions with plans for large-scale climate projects and, without accreditation, it is not possible to submit a project proposal.

For Southern local civil society organisations, which often have considerable experience with adapting to climate change and know exactly what is needed to help the groups most affected to adapt, the road to accreditation is practically impossible. Both ENDS and our partners want to ensure that the Green Climate Fund is organised in a way that small-scale local civil society organisations can apply for financing.

Local access to climate financing

That is why, since the end of 2012, Both ENDS has attended every board meeting of the Green Climate Fund to influence the way in which procedures and conditions are designed. We do not do that alone: we ensure that a number of our partner organisations from different poor countries that are having to deal with the consequences of climate change can be there to take part in the lobbying process.

Together, we call on the board of the Green Climate Fund to introduce a number of important changes. We believe, for example, that local organisations should have a greater say in the decision-making of the Fund itself. They should be allowed to participate in decisions on the sort of projects that are to be financed, and on the conditions projects should have to meet. In addition, we continually emphasise the importance of involving women and women's groups in these processes, because women not only often suffer the most under climate change, but also know best how to adapt their lives and their production methods to increasingly difficult circumstances.

The accreditations and projects of the Green Climate Fund

In March 2018, governments had pledged 10.3 billion dollars to the Fund and 59 'entities' had been accredited. These are partners or intermediary institutions through which the financing is distributed. Two thirds of the accredited entities are traditional institutions like the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), or development banks like the World Bank, the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ and the Dutch development bank FMO. Only 36% are national organisations or funds and none of them are smaller, subnational organisations.

Of all the projects submitted by accredited entities by March 2018, 76 were approved. Of these entities, 75% were international, 8% regional and 17% national institutions. All of these figures raise the question whether the money from the Green Climate Fund is finding it way to those who suffer most from climate change, and whether these people have a say in the way the projects are designed.

Green Climate Fund's inclusive ambitions are not met

There is thus a large gap between the 'inclusive ambitions' and the practice of the Green Climate Fund. To close that gap, the Fund could start by making use of existing 'small grants funds': regional funds that know exactly what is happening on the ground because they are continually in contact with local groups and organisations which are often invisible to large institutions. These small grants funds themselves obtain financing from large institutions and ensure that the money, divided up into smaller amounts, finds its way to local groups and organisations.

By accrediting small grants funds, the Green Climate Fund can ensure that climate financing genuinely reaches local women's and other groups and organisations. At the moment, only one small grants fund, the Micronesia Conservation Trust, is accredited. Both ENDS and our partners therefore urge the Green Climate Fund to accredit many more small grants funds to ensure local access to climate finance.

For more information

Read more about this subject