TWN Info Service on Climate Change (Mar18/03)
7 March 2018
Third World Network

GCF adopts policy on indigenous peoples

Kuala Lumpur, 7 Mar (Hilary Chiew) – The Green Climate Fund (GCF) Board at its 19th meeting adopted a policy on indigenous peoples.

The decision was adopted smoothly without any problem, and was welcomed by indigenous peoples’ representatives and civil society present at the Board meeting in Songdo, South Korea, which took place from 26 Feb. to 1 March, 2018.

The Board also adopted the Fund’s Environmental and Social Policy.

Indigenous Peoples Policy

Presiding over the agenda item relating to the policy on indigenous peoples’, the GCF Board’s current co-Chair Paul Oquist (Nicaragua) informed members that 70 submissions from the Board and civil society organisations were received by the Secretariat, as well as opinions from 180 indigenous peoples organisations. The initial draft policy went through two rounds of public consultation and one round of consultations with the Board, informed Oquist.

The Co-chair then gavelled the decision adopting the policy as there were no objections.

The 30-page policy is divided into various parts that include:

·         the policy objectives;

·         the scope of application;

·         the guiding principles such as respect and enhancing the rights of indigenous peoples to their lands, territories and resources, recognise key international human rights and principles, respect and recognise traditional knowledge and livelihood systems, facilitate access to GCF resources for indigenous peoples and respecting the system of self-government;

·         overview of roles and responsibilities of the GCF and the accredited entities;

·         requirements such as avoidance of adverse impacts, circumstances requiring free, prior and informed consent and grievance redress mechanism;

·         implementation; and

·         effective date and review of the policy.

The policy states that the overall objective is to provide a framework for ensuring that GCF’s activities are developed and implemented in such a way that fosters full respect for and the active protection and promotion of indigenous peoples’ dignity, human rights, and cultural uniqueness so that they receive culturally appropriate social and economic benefits and do not suffer adverse effects during the development process. The policy will apply to all GCF-financed activities and to both public and private sector entities.

The policy allows GCF to integrate indigenous peoples’ considerations across various levels of decision-making and operations in a systematic, coherent and transparent manner.

Environmental and Social Policy (ESP)

The Board adopted a 23-page ‘Environment and Social Policy’ after consultations among members.  

According to the policy document, it “articulates how (the) GCF integrates environmental and social considerations into its decision-making and operations to effectively manage environmental and social risks and impacts and improve outcomes.”

It states further that the policy presents the commitments of the GCF and articulates the principles and standards to which GCF will hold itself accountable.

Through this policy, GCF will require that all GCF-supported activities will commit to:

a)      avoid, and where avoidance is impossible, mitigate adverse impacts to people and the environment;

b)      enhance equitable access to development benefits; and

c)      give due consideration to vulnerable and marginalised populations, groups, and individuals, local communities, indigenous peoples, and other marginalised groups of people and individuals that are affected or potentially affected by GCF-financed activities.

The Board decision as regards the ESP, also “requests the Secretariat, taking into account input from stakeholders, to present to the Board the proposed approach to developing the GCF environmental and social safeguards standards for its consideration at its 21st meeting” and “requests the Secretariat to develop and publish the Environmental and Social Management System manual and guidance, including guidance related to stakeholder engagement, no later than the 22nd meeting” of the Board.

Edited by Meena Raman