Now that the Green Climate Fund is receiving pledges, let’s make it deliver!
Now that the Green Climate Fund is receiving pledges, let’s make it deliver!
Three weeks ago, I visited the Caribbean island of Barbados to attend the 8th Board meeting of the Green Climate Fund (GCF). As an NGO delegate, I was allowed to follow the heated debates of the GCF board on a big screen. The Green Climate Fund is supposed to be operational early 2015, which means its board is under pressure to take important decisions, which resulted in piles of paperwork to read beforehand, a full agenda and a marathon meeting which continued until 03:00 AM on the last day.
We have been trying to get “Country Ownership” on the agenda for quite some time now. Country ownership means that countries receiving the money from the fund should be able to decide for themselves how to spend it. This way, the money is more likely to be spent effectively than when these decisions are made by outsiders. Local organisations often have much more knowledge to find solutions to specific problems in their region, so it is only logical to involve them in decision-making. I was glad the issue was - finally! - discussed by the board this time. But is it enough if only the national government has access to climate money? The Board narrowed the debate about country ownership to this level, while we think it’s crucial that local organisations – especially local organisations - have access to the fund and are allowed to participate in the decision making. Now, there is no guarantee that these parties will be involved.
NDA? What’s that?
On a more positive note, the Board did decide that project proposals for the fund should be actively approved by the 'National Designated Authorities’ (NDA). These bodies, one in each recipient country, will check if project proposals are in line with national plans and priorities. This means that projects are no longer automatically approved if no one objects. There are still snags though. Who are the members of the NDA? And who decides this? And how does the NDA come to its decisions? Guidelines exist, but countries are not obliged to follow them. Local communities, organisations and other stakeholders will more often than not be left out of the decision making of an NDA. We therefore believe that these guidelines should be binding. Still work to be done for us!
The power of money
Another hot topic at the meeting was the "Policy for Contributions”. Several contributing countries suggested that the more they contribute to the fund, the more voting power they should get. They also felt that they should be allowed to earmark funding, and thus be allowed to decide how their money is spent exactly. This is quite contrary to both the just hard-won 'Country Ownership' and the basic purpose of the Green Climate Fund: "To support developing countries to design their OWN climate-compatible development pathways.” Naturally, the receiving countries were strongly opposed. Fortunately, after a long day of negotiations and fierce discussions, both proposals were rejected by the board.
The island of Barbados is one of the places where the effects of climate change will have a major impact. The location of the meeting meant to provoke a sense of urgency to now take a tidal wave of good decisions. Perhaps the board laid back in its luxury Hilton hotel bubble a bit too much to let this reality set in? Small steps were taken, but will the fund realize its full potential? We'll have to keep working on it.
Leonie Wezendonk is policy officer at Both ENDS .
For more information:
Blog by Sena Alouka, Director of Jeunes Volontaires pour l’Environnement in Togo, discussing the progress of the Green Climate Fund, and looking at how Africa is engaging with climate finance.
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