The shaping of potentially one of the greatest multilateral funding mechanisms of the coming decade is silently under way. At the UN’s Climate Change Conference in Cancun in 2010, world leaders agreed that $100 billion would be allocated to adaptation and mitigation activities each year – twice the size of the World Bank’s annual disbursement. A significant share would be channeled through the Green Climate Fund, created under the auspices of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
The Green Climate Fund (GCF) defines itself as a “significant and ambitious contribution to the global efforts towards attaining the goals set by the international community to combat climate change.” The agency will be charged with funding projects focused on adjusting to and alleviating the impacts of climate change, with capital to flow from developed countries. Presently, the GCF remains in its infancy. Although its Board met for the first time on 23 August, it is not expected to be fully operational before 2014. To date, only the agency’s legal basis and governing principles have been broadly defined. In the meantime, a Bonn-based Interim Secretariat is in charge of preparatory work and convening the initial Board meetings.
The nominated Board has yet to determine some of the GCF’s central funding strategies, establish its permanent secretariat, manage to collect the resources developed countries promised two years ago, or define the types of projects it will support. During its first three years of operation, the assets of the GCF are to be administered by the World Bank, its current trustee. The modalities of this arrangement have been drafted, but still need to be submitted for approval to the Board.
The inaugural Board meeting was originally planned for April, but then delayed by four months. The Asian constituency was the last to submit its members. Senior Manager of the GCF’s Interim Secretariat, Henning Wuester, explained that “the regions were not able to nominate the Board members on time because they required more time to do so.” He perceived such hesitation as a positive signal, emphasizing that “too many countries were interested in having a seat on the Board.” Indeed, this was an indication of the “strong interest in, and commitment to, the Fund.”
Liane Schalatek, Associate Director in Washington DC of the North American branch of the Heinrich Boell Foundation, has been closely following the developments of the GCF as a civil society representative since its inception in 2009. While she agreed that the seemingly difficult negotiations within each regional constituency proved the interest the GCF engenders, her views on the deferred nominations were also more developed. “It shows two things: that there is a big interest by countries to be on the Board – that itself is a good thing because it shows the importance that both developed and developing countries attach to the Fund and its role in the future of global climate finance architecture; 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.”
Understanding why states are concerned about adequate representation on the Board necessitates looking back at its origins. What the GCF has been provided with to date, which Schalatek describes as the “skeleton” of the institution, is key to understanding the Board’s mandate and the stakes each member will have to defend.
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Report by Julie Mandoyan