Blog / 19 mei 2014

The Green Climate Fund – soon open for business?

The Green Climate Fund – soon open for business?

First things first

If the current GCF-negotiations will indeed show progress, this in turn could catalyse positive engagement in the upcoming UNFCCC climate negotiations. We are just one year ahead of the criticalUnited Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris in 2015, during which a new legally binding and universal agreement on climate needs to be agreed upon. Therefore, here in Korea, the GCF Board will focus entirely on the essential requirements that need to be in place before donors will even start to consider pledging money to the fund.


Saving time

It is hard to say whether the Board will be successful at this meeting. Some signs are positive: for the first time, for instance, board members have ample space to meet in smaller groups. This will hopefully avoid some of the frustrating lengthy plenary discussions held at previous meetings, where precious time was spent on sometimes ridiculous issues such as whether board members can fly first or business class. Also, convergence on a number of issues is slowly growing.


Who gets access?

But not all is positive. Among civil society groups that have been monitoring the establishment of the GCF for more than 2 years now, there is great concern that some crucial issues are falling off the agenda. Especially ‘country ownership’ and ‘direct access’ - key agenda items for Both ENDS and partners - receive way too little attention.  Country ownership means that developing countries, rather than distant funds,   decide which climate projects to invest in.  Under ‘direct Access’, national governments or their nominated national and subnational institutions receive international climate funds and disburse them to relevant projects. To ensure all stakeholders in future receiving countries have a direct say on how the funds will be spent, country ownership and direct access are crucial. Only this way the funds will end up there where they are most needed: on the ground where vulnerable communities need support to deal with the consequences of climate change and to get access to clean energy.


Turning the tide

In the current proposals discussed at the Green Climate Fund meeting, money will in a first phase be mainly channeled through international financial institutions or intermediate funds, which will make it more difficult for local authorities and organisations to access them and for countries to determine their own priorities. Lidy Nacpil from Jubilee South, whom I spoke to here in Songdo, said: “Well before the GCF was created, the idea was already to get climate funding to support the efforts of climate change institutions in our own countries. The GCF was set up for that, but the current Board documents are giving international institutions a huge advantage over local institutions.” A number of developing country Board members are expressing similar concerns, but the question remains if they can turn the table. The next few days will tell.


Anouk Franck is programme officer at Both ENDS and currently present at the seventh Board meeting of the Green Climate Fund.


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