Green Climate Fund (GCF)

GCF meeting in Korea: time to decide

On Sunday, May 18th 2014 the 7th meeting of the Board of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) is starting in Songdo, South Korea, where the Secretariat of the GCF is based. This meeting may decide upon the future of the fund, as all outstanding decisions shall be taken which are a prerequisite for the replenishment of the GCF later this year. Germany as one of the GCF Board co-chairs has a crucial role to play in successfully steering the 24 Board members through the negotiations.

Last year the Board identified eight essential requirements which have to be decided upon before the fund can receive first payments. But at the February meeting of the GCF Board in Bali the Board only succeeded in adopting two of the eight policies. In consequence, there are six issues on the agenda for Songdo. If the meeting fails to bring about an agreement, the fund’s schedule is in danger. The Board has set itself the goal of deciding on these policies in May. This will enable the first funding commitments this year, e.g. when the head of states will assemble at the UN Secretary General’s extraordinary climate summit in September. This would send a positive signal to the next UN climate conference in Lima in December and could give new impetus to the negotiations for a new international climate agreement until the climate conference 2015 in Paris.

The co-chairs Manfred Konukiewitz from Germany and Joey Salceda from the Philippines have proposed an agenda which will focus on „6 plus 1“ issues. Next to the six open essentials this includes a decision at the end which will pave the way for the resource mobilization. This would postpone many other issues which were also supposed to be on the agenda. This includes i.e. the implementation of a gender-sensitive approach as well as the issue of country ownership meaning the procedures to ensure that the funding will be disbursed according to the priorities and needs of the recipient countries. Focussing the agenda in such a way can make sense – but it will only be accepted by the rest of the Board if there will be a clear agreement on when and how the other issues will be decided upon. In particular cross-cutting issues like gender and ownership need to be reflected in all decisions on the six essentials if they are not included as separate agenda items.

The six issues to be discussed from Sunday on are:

These are all at first – and often also at second – glance very technical issues. Yet they also contain fundamental decisions on the future operation of the fund. Will the fund be just another international financial institution which in the end will not function any differently from the World Bank and similar institutions – or will it acutally be a novelty which can make a difference? It is the declared goal oft he GCF to facilitate a paradigm shift towards a low-carbon and climate-resilient development.

This ambitious goal must be reflected in the decisions taken in Songdo. Among others, the guidelines for investment must include ambitous criteria to ensure that the funding supports those measures which will actually contribute to a paradigm shift. However, the great transformation towards a climate-friendly and climate-resilient economy can only succeed if it is anchored within the society of the partner countries. It is cannot be enacted by an international fund. Activities financed by the fund therefore have to be part of the national governments‘ climate and development strategies which in turn need to be developed with the greatest possible participation of civil society. Without civil society participation and country ownership a paradigm shift will not happen. Therefore these principles must be fully incorporated in the procedures and guidelines which the Board will agree upon in Songdo.

There are positive signs that a break through will be possible in Songdo. After that it will be crucial that the rich countries will quickly make their financial commitments. The proposed decision on the resource mobilization process forees a first meeting of those countries willing to pay into the fund in June.

Germany should be among the first contributers and should make a substantial financial commitment. The German civil society demands a pledge of around one billion Euro. However, the draft of the German federal budget does not include any clear provisions which would enable the German government to make multi-year commitments to the GCF. It would be embarassing if the co-chairs from Germany and the Philippines – with the prospect of first payments –successfully steered the Board meeting to the urgently needed decisions and Germany then had to declare that it is impossible to make a pledge because of missing budget authorizations. It is cruial for the German parliament to take the necessary steps to change this.

Lutz Weischer, Germanwatch