8 December 2015
The Green Climate Fund Starts Funding Climate Action in Developing Countries
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A few weeks ahead of the start of the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 21), where climate negotiators are set to gather to seal the fate of the Universal Climate Agreement, the Green Climate Fund sent a strong message to the world community.

A few weeks ahead of the start of the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 21), where climate negotiators are set to gather to seal the fate of the Universal Climate Agreement, the Green Climate Fund sent a strong message to the world community: Its Board approved its initial set of projects and programmes, financing USD 168 million, with an additional allocation of USD 195 million over time, overall catalyzing up to USD 1.3 billion in private and public investments. This marks the end of the GCF launch phase and kick-starts the flow of climate finance through the Fund to developing countries.

This is a game-changer in climate finance. To get to this point, a lot of work has been done since the Fund’s Headquarters inauguration in South Korea, in December 2013. The Green Climate Fund is an operating entity of the Financial Mechanism of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). It is a climate financing vehicle created by the COP in Cancun in 2010 with no purpose other than to make a significant contribution in the fight against climate change. The aim of the Fund is to promote the paradigm shift towards low-emission and climate-resilient development pathways in developing countries. It does so by providing financial support to developing countries to limit or reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and to adapt to the impacts of climate change.

The Fund draws on the experience of other climate funds and other specialized global funds, and presents unique features in its governance structure and business model. It is designed to take into account the needs of those developing countries most vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change.

Developing countries take a central role in the funding proposal process of the Green Climate Fund, and the Fund’s own Board is structured to ensure a balanced representation from developed and developing countries. As of early November, it had a growing network of 136 developing country focal points engaged with the Fund, known as the National Designated Authorities (NDAs). The Fund also provides support to countries to enhance their readiness and help them prepare projects. This readiness and preparatory support, a strategic priority, is a small grants mechanism that helps ensure that programming is effective and nationally owned. In particular, the Fund is providing support to countries to help them establish their NDAs, to help them develop their strategic framework of engagement with the Fund, and to help them build pipelines of programme and project proposals. The Fund received readiness requests from over 95 countries, and already approved 30. In addition, regional workshops have been organized in Central America, in Asia, in the Pacific region, in the Africa and Middle East region, and in the Caribbean.

In allocating its resources the Fund is placing equal emphasis on adaptation and on mitigation, with a focus on the most vulnerable countries. Particular attention is being paid to small island developing States (SIDS), least developed countries (LDCs) and African States where a major effort is being made to finance adaptation to climate change and building resilient economies.

The Fund has so far received $10 billion equivalent in financial pledges from 38 countries, including from eight developing countries. A significant portion of these pledges have already been converted into actual financial resources. Access to the Green Climate Fund’s resources is done through sub-national, national, regional and international, public and private entities that are accredited by the Board of the Fund. So far, 20 such partners have been accredited and nine more have been recommended to the Board.

Concretely, the first set of activities financed by the Fund are expected to generate USD 1.3 billion in investments over the coming five years, and cover a very broad range of interventions. The proposals approved in early November will: help build resilience of wetlands in the Province of Datem del Marañón in Peru; scale up the use of modernized climate information and early warning systems in Malawi; increase the resilience of ecosystems and communities through the restoration of the productive bases of salinized lands in Senegal; lead to climate resilient infrastructure mainstreaming in Bangladesh; set the KawiSafi off grid solar energy access Fund in place in Eastern Africa; catalyze a major Energy Efficiency Green Bond programme in Latin America and the Caribbean; support vulnerable communities in managing climate change Induced water shortages in Maldives; and enhance the urban water supply and wastewater management in Fiji.

But this is only a start, and a lot remains to be done.

At the Paris meeting, in addition to commitments to reduce emissions of CO2 and other GHGs, the world expects the COP to take some important decisions concerning climate finance, which is an essential means of implementation (MOI) for the developing countries’ intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs). The Green Climate Fund’s Secretariat looks forward to COP 21 as an opportunity for the global community to assure a functional future for the Financial Mechanism of the UNFCCC and its operating entities.

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