14 Dec How effective is the Green Climate Fund?
As the Green Climate Fund holds their 15th Board meeting in Samoa, will they improve on their funding proposal and approval process? – “if [the GCF] wanted to design a system that put the poorest and most vulnerable at the end of the pipeline, they could not have done a better job.”
The 15th meeting of the Board of the Green Climate Fund opened yesterday in Apia – it’s first time meeting in a Pacific location. Samoa and Australia are co-hosting the meeting. While the main focus of the 3 day event will be consideration of funding proposals from different countries and applications by seven organizations to become Accredited Entities (AEs), there are those wanting to see the agenda include discussion on how the funding approval process can be streamlined.
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi opened the meeting with an acknowledgment of how crucial a role the GCF has in empowering developing countries to deal with climate change. He said that bringing the Board meeting to the Pacific provides an opportunity for Members to experience the realities, challenges and commitments of small island developing states (SIDS) towards addressing development issues and climate change. He also pointed to the importance of a unified effort, saying that “global engagement is necessary to stranding together relevant issues and defining solutions.”
Samoa’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, H.E. Aliioaiga Feturi Elisaia is currently serving as the SIDS Representative on the Board of the GCF. When outlining his hopes for the meeting, he said that it has “both symbolic and substantive value.” For Aliioaiga, making it easier for smaller countries to access the GCF fund should be paramount.
“One of the main outcomes of the Samoa meeting has to be…the simplified approval process for micro and small-scale activities, as well as the streamlining of the Fund’s initial proposal approval process.” He added that, “For us, simplified procedures are not only about getting faster access to available resources, but…about building up and retaining the capacity in our regions to plan and implement climate change activities.”
According to a GCF press release, Board Co-Chair Zaheer Fakir (South Africa), the Board has made tremendous progress already. “We have rapidly improved the Fund’s performance, approved over USD $1 billion so far for mitigation and adaption in developing countries, more than doubled the number of Accredited Entities we partner with, and our pipeline of proposals continues to grow”.
However there has been some criticism of how the GCF administers its funding. Seleemul Huq, at the International Institute for Environment and Development in London, said in Climate Change News that “if [the GCF] wanted to design a system that put the poorest and most vulnerable at the end of the pipeline, they could not have done a better job.”
Huq’s critique points out that due to “micro-scrutiny” and a “perpetual treadmill of paperwork”, some adaptation projects which were approved at the first GCF Board meeting over a year ago – have yet to see any of the money. He said that while the priority recipients for adaptation funding are vulnerable communities in the poorest countries, the GCF’s current funding processes “put these very communities and countries at a disadvantage as they are least able to generate the required level of paperwork – unless they hire so-called international experts to do it for them!”
Huq calls for a radically different model, one that recognizes climate change adaptation is a new thing and so there are no real “experts”. For the GCF to ask for unending amendments and rely on so-called adaptation experts to micro-scrutinize funding proposals is “a waste of money.” Rather, the GCF should acknowledge climate change adaptation is a “learning by doing process where expertise will be developed by practitioners and others over time” and so they should adopt a kind of ‘pay first’ and ‘monitor and evaluate as you go’ approach.
Noelene Nabulivou, climate change activist from Fiji who is in Samoa for the GCF meeting said that while she thinks the GCF has been established for the right reasons, the involvement of civil society and social movements “is absolutely critical in making sure that the fund does as it really should – get funds for climate adaptation and mitigation into the hands of climate frontline communities…in a just and human rights framed way.”
She added that the GCF has a strong gender policy in place but actually putting that into practice in a meeting like this one is a challenge. “We need more local, national and regional direct presence at GCF meetings where decisions are made.”
H.E Aliioaiga reminded in his appeal to the GCF Board that – “in our collective action to address climate change, we must never lose sight of the simple truth that even projects by islands states, small as they may seem when compared to other larger and more expensive projects, in absolute terms, they can still be impactful, effective, and bring about life-changing results in their own right….After all, everything in life is relative and ‘small’ can also be beautiful.”
To learn more about the GCF and what it does, click here