TWN Info Service on Climate Change (Nov19/02)
19 November 2019
Third World Network

GCF Board to update Strategic Plan for Fund

Songdo, 19 Nov (Prerna Bomzan)- Among the many issues discussed at the Green Climate Fund’s (GCF) 24th Board meeting, was the development of its updated Strategic Plan for the period 2020-2023.

The meeting was held at the GCF’s headquarters in Songdo, South Korea from 12-14 November.

Co-Chair Josceline Wheatley (United Kingdom) informed that in launching the first replenishment of the GCF (GCF-1) process at its 21st meeting, the Board had reiterated its intention to review the Fund’s initial strategic plan (covering the initial resource mobilisation period from 2015-2018), inviting submissions from Board members and alternates. After having considered the report on the implementation of the initial strategic plan at its 22nd meeting, the Board then requested the Secretariat, under the guidance of the Co-Chairs, to develop an updated strategic plan for 2020-2023 (GCF-1 period) inviting members, national designated authorities, accredited entities and observers to submit inputs.

At the meeting in Songdo, the Board held an informal discussion on the draft strategic plan on 11 November, prior to commencement of the formal board meeting.

The current draft document sets out “eight results area” as programming directions for GCF-1: energy access and power generation; transport; buildings, cities and industries; forestry and land use; the most vulnerable people, communities and regions; health and well being, food and water security; infrastructure and built environment results area; ecosystems and ecosystem services.

The draft Strategic Plan for 2020-2023 was opened for comments with a view to adopting a procedural decision, to consider agreement on the final strategic plan at the Board’s next meeting in March 2020.

Several Board members intervened to provide their views on the draft plan.

Jeremiah Garwo Sokan (Liberia) said that there is an “urgency for a new plan” given the latest scientific findings and the need for initiating “transformational changes” towards emissions reduction. Although a good beginning, he said that some work still needs to be done on the draft plan and hoped for an “opportunity to find a comfortable and non- pressurised environment” to come out with significant and substantive improvements on the document.

Paul Oquist (Nicaragua) stated that on the issue of the value-add of projects being funded by the Fund, “the problem is not implementing” paragraph 35 of the Governing Instrument (GI) which deals with technology development and transfer. He called for more projects in this regard.

Lars Roth (Sweden) said that the “role and added value” of the Fund needs to be clarified with greater priority on the “leverage effect” of the Fund in mobilising funding, not least from the private sector. He stressed on increasing the efficiency of the Board as well as increased delegation of authority to the Secretariat. Further, he suggested improving the structure of the strategic plan by building on the proposed structure of the integrated results and management framework, including by integrating its principles into the described theory of change.

Sue Szabo (Canada) called for greater focus and attention on country ownership and on “science-based sectoral advice”. “We must do better in ensuring that the GCF can be strategic in its choices and priorities in developing a pipeline of projects and of partners”, she added.

Chang Huh (South Korea) said the strategic plan should be “flexible” and suggested a review its progress annually, which would also be helpful to “sharpen the comparative advantage” of the Fund.

Karina Ramirez Arras (Mexico) considered the draft document a “good basis” for discussions and looked forward to “an efficient and structured discussion that ensures a productive consensus process and guarantees the participation of all members and alternates”. She further underlined that the “eight different key areas” should not be as detailed and “prescriptive”, as the way it is presented “limits the scope of action” of the Fund and does not take into account “domestic” priorities and sensitivities. “We do not support setting specific targets for achieving higher co-financing from private sector investments as this is not in line with the spirit of the revised co-financing policy expected to be approved in this Board meeting”, she concluded.

Frank Fass-Metz (Germany) expressed views that “the GCF should support the ambition of developing countries and in implementing the goals of Article 2 of the Paris Agreement. “Country programming should promote countries’ increased ambition to enhance their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) within the NDCs cycle and ensure that the programming goes beyond business-as-usual”, he added.

Tobias Von Platen-Hallermund (Denmark) asked for “more specific information on how the Fund will collaborate with other global climate financing institutions which are also supporting paradigm-shifting outcomes”. He stressed on increased private sector involvement being critical especially for adaptation and resilience programmes and further sought “more balance between the eight result areas”.

Hans Olav Ibrekk (Norway) highlighted the need to distinguish between strategic choices and operational priorities that do not really come out clearly (in the draft), and called for clear definitions of ‘climate rationale’ and ‘paradigm shift’. He also underlined the need to “focus and elaborate more on actions to stimulate private sector investments”.

Tlou Emmanuel Ramaru (South Africa) said that the vision of the Strategic Plan should not be limited to just the four-year programming period. He elaborated that “determining adequate resource level for the Fund should not be an exercise of merely matching the resources required with what developed countries are prepared to contribute; rather the focus ought to be on what difference the Fund can, and will make in the result areas with what amount of funding over what time period”. He further underscored the need for predictability of adaptation support and urged for an “informal session” to further develop the plan.

Ronald Jumeau (Seychelles) underlined the need to “continue to simplify, streamline and speed up our delivery and the way we do things”. “In keeping with the urgency of the climate crisis we are in, we need to get the financial pledges into the Fund as soon as possible and get the money out again to the countries and communities who need them as quickly as possible without adding to the burden of the developing countries especially Small-Island Developing States (SIDs), Least-developed Countries (LDCs) and Africa”, he added.

Xia Lyu (China) said that the GCF should put more attention on the long-term and evolving needs of developing countries for adaptation actions, and to ensure balanced financial support for adaptation and mitigation. She added that developing countries’ needs, priorities and ownership should be fully respected in selecting and implementing projects.

Esther Gonzalez Sanz (Spain) expressed strong support for agriculture and food security as one of the impact areas as well as for adaptation while stating strong disagreement on stabilising the number of accredited entities at this stage.

Kate Hughes (United Kingdom) stressed the need to “improve results impact” and “work in a meaningful way with the private sector” to amplify the impacts even further. She called on to “keep up our support for the most vulnerable countries” and concluded with the need to “enhance key policies and continue to improve the efficiency of processes” highlighting the accreditation process.

Alison Carlin (New Zealand) underlined that the “countries most at risk and most vulnerable and most at risk as a priority” and expressed support for increase in “focus on results management”.

Ayman Shasly (Saudi Arabia) stated that “we would like to see the Fund remain a public Fund, run by governments, focused on grants and concessional loans”. He cautioned that the Fund should delve into the private sector in a “minimalist” way, to ensure that “we do not shift climate financing to developing countries through the private sector” since they do not do business for charity or do not provide grants nor concessional loans. “This Fund should be in the context of climate change, guided by and be accountable to the UNFCCC Parties”, he stressed. He further clarified that “the Fund is to help developing countries adapt and enhance resilience and then, if there is room, voluntarily contribute to mitigation”.

Shasly reiterated that it is the developed countries problem to focus on limiting temperature rise to 1.5 or 2°C due to their inaction in the pre-2020 timeframe, while the developing countries are “victims of the negative impacts of climate change”. This he said should be the “focus and storyline” of the current document. Referring also to the “forward-looking” performance review done by the GCF’s Independent Evaluation Unit which fed into the strategic plan, Shasly clearly stated that “we do not subscribe” to the evaluation as “it changes the identity of the Fund”. He also urged for an informal Board meeting to further work on the strategic plan.

In the draft procedural decision presented to the Board for approval, Shasly expressed concern about the word “endorsement” in the first paragraph which following deliberations, was changed to “approval” thus finally reading “Requests the Secretariat, under the guidance of the Co-Chairs, to continue developing the updated Strategic Plan for 2020-2023, with a view to presenting it for consideration and approval by the Board at its twenty-fifth meeting….”.

The adopted decision invites Board members and alternates, as well as active observers, to “submit written comments” to the Secretariat on the draft updated Strategic Plan by “20 December 2019”.

In the adopted decision, the Board also decided “to hold an informal Board meeting, open to active observers, well before the twenty-fifth meeting of the Board, with a view to present a final draft of the updated Strategic Plan for 2020-2023” and to hold the informal meeting from 5 to 7 February 2020 in Monrovia, Liberia.

(Edited by Meena Raman)