2015. This is the year. Sink or swim. It’s all or nothing.
Opening the Green Climate Fund’s Ninth Meeting of the Board last month, Executive Director Hela Cheikhrouhou spoke with an urgency characteristic of the lead-up to December’s UN Climate Conference in Paris, describing this year as one of the last opportunities humanity has to change course and steer a sustainable path.
As we approach the signing of a new global agreement on climate change, the efficacy of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) holds particular importance. Counting now with $10.2 billion, it will serve as the primary vehicle to finance projects designed to help all societies – whether developed or developing – confront the causes, and the effects, of a changing climate.
At last month’s meeting, the Fund’s Board accredited its first intermediary and implementing institutions – charged with channeling money into developing nations – and then announced plans to begin allocating its resources before the year’s end.
These accreditations, in turn signaling the imminent arrival of the first project proposals, represent an important milestone in the rigorous, nearly five-year process since the Fund was first established.
"This will be the ultimate test of the effectiveness of the institution," said Andrea Rodríguez Osuna, AIDA’s Senior Attorney for Climate Change, who has been monitoring the development of the Fund. "When it all comes down to it, this is the step that matters."
The first seven entities accredited by the Board represent a broad geographic and thematic range, and will likely be the first to submit proposals for funding. Including organizations from Senegal to Peru, they specialize in issues such as coastal protection, biodiversity conservation, sustainable development, and improving the lives of low-income communities.
While the accreditations represent an advance towards the actualization of the Fund’s mission, a number of significant organizational decisions remain under debate, or are as yet unaddressed.
Among other topics on the agenda last month, the Board addressed the expected role and impact of the Fund, which will enable them to identify financing priorities, and the Initial Investment Framework, which will outline what types of projects will be financed and how they will be selected and assessed.
"Alongside accreditation, these elements are essential. Without them, the Fund can’t advance toward the future, toward having more focused and productive discussions," Rodríguez explained.
The criteria and methodology for the Fund’s Initial Investment Framework triggered a heated debate, which largely pitted developed against developing nations. On one side, the developed nations pushed for minimum required benchmarks that would enable simpler measurement of success; on the other side, developing nations pushed for qualitative measures with no strict requirements that would better ensure more equal access to funds.
Finally, they reached a compromise, deciding to use non-mandatory indicative minimum benchmarks that would both encourage ambition and take into account the needs of those developing countries most vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change. The Secretariat will present the proposed benchmarks for further development in about a year’s time, at the 13th meeting of the Board.
Discussing the expected role and impact of the Fund, the Board came to an uncharacteristically unified decision – to keep the Initial Investment Framework under review, and to take action as needed regarding the criterion on needs of the recipient countries. Agreeing the document presented by the Secretariat lacked sufficient information, the Board requested they be presented with more technical and scientific data before beginning to outline their priorities.
Notably missing from the conversation, due to lack of time, was an item particularly important to AIDA’s work, Enhanced Direct Access, which would obligate public participation in certain projects. If approved, this direct access would ensure the moreequitable involvement of all the actors working to confront the effects of a changing climate.
The next meeting of the Board of the Green Climate Fund will be July 6-9 at the Fund’s headquarters in Songdo, South Korea. AIDA will be there again to monitor these issues and report back on important developments, as the world prepares for a new global climate accord, and the Green Climate Fund moves ever closer to implementation.