The Green Climate Fund held its first Board meeting in Geneva last week (23-25 August). The organization will be the main channel to disburse the 100 billion USD to be allocated yearly– according to pledges – to climate change adaptation and mitigation by 2020. The meeting, which occurred in a “cordial” atmosphere, had been expected for several months but was delayed because of disagreement over the the selection of the Board members.
Created under article 11 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Durban (2011), the Green Climate Fund was established with the purpose of making a significant contribution to the global effort towards attaining the goals set by the international community to combat climate change. It will fund projects supporting mitigation and adaptation to climate change.
In Geneva, for three days, the Green Climate Fund’s Board, co-chaired by Zaheer Fakir of South Africa and Ewan McDonald of Australia, focused on practical points regarding the meeting. They mainly discussed the primary steps of the set-up of the Fund. In a press release from 25 August, its interim secretariat noted what it considers as a success, and a precedent for the next meetings of the Board: “The Board of the Green Climate Fund successfully wrapped up its first meeting today by taking a number of decisions that will lay the foundations for the operationalization of the Fund.” Confirming this impression, Karen Orenstein of Friends of the Earth USA reported that “the atmosphere was cordial.” That is quite an achievement if one considers what lays behind the GCF: 100 billion dollars, which corresponds to twice the amount disbursed by the World Bank.
An important, concrete issue that the Fund’s Board agreed upon was to nominate its permanent Secretariat before the end of the year - its interim Secretariat is located in Bonn. Six countries are currently competing to host the organization: Switzerland, Germany, Namibia, Mexico, South Korea and Poland. The results of the selection committee are likely to be made public on 18-20 October, at the Board’s next meeting in South Korea.
However, in spite of McDonald’s final praise for a “very productive start,” contentious points remain to be discussed. Liane Schalatek, Associate director of the American Branch of the Heinrich Boell Foundation, told The Global Journal: “What they have now is a rough skeleton of what the fund should look like.”
The late nomination of Board members clearly reveals a strong interest by regional constituencies, and can be taken as an indicator of the interest that the Fund will generate. Schalatek commented on the delay: “It shows two things: that there is a big interest by countries to be on the Board [and] it also shows the sensitivities of countries that think they should be represented or countries that might be afraid that they are not going to get representation as needed.”
Exploring the governing instrument of the Green Climate Fund reveals the Board was granted huge attributions, which were not dealt with at the Geneva meeting. The Board itself still has to define them. They notably include funding mechanisms, as well as the source of the funds.
The meeting in Seoul is likely to shed more light on this –still rather obscure – new, Green giant. It will also be a key moment for the Green Climate Fund to find its place amongst numerous already existing multilateral funding mechanisms dedicated to the ‘green cause.’
(Photo © DR)
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