by Kashmala Kakakhel, WEDO’s Climate Finance Fellow, from the 10th Board Meeting of the Green Climate Fund 

This week, over 200 Observers have joined the Green Climate Fund (GCF) Secretariat and its Board Members for its 10th Board Meeting in Songdo, South Korea from July 6 – 9, 2015. In an attempt to remain transparent, the Observers (representatives of civil society organisations, media, other climate funds and Banks) have a chance to follow the session live and intervene through two of its (selected) members, representing global south and the north.

This Board Meeting marks the 3rd Anniversary of the Fund – Ms. Héla Cheikhrouhou the Executive Director of the GCF summarized the journey, ‘there is substantial progress to show in four particular areas’. In terms of resources, it has managed to raise GBP 10 billion from 34 countries (at various stages of mobilisation for now), it has set up a fully functional Secretariat, has begun to build a strong network of partners (130 National Development Agencies, 9 accredited entities), and these partners are beginning to share project ideas, clearly showing a strong appetite to engage with the Fund.

However, before the 2015 Paris agreement in 5 months’ time, the Fund needs to deliver what it promised 5 years ago. It also needs to deliver better than its predecessors so that vulnerable communities that are most impacted by climate change can see there is help finally available.

In a bid to be able to manage these expectations, the Fund has been working extra hard this year to lay foundation for an operational body that is ready to service the Conference of Parties (CoP) as per the scheduled plan. Other than this Meeting, the Board will meet only once more before the Paris CoP, and therefore the pressure to deliver is mounting. The meeting days have been increased from 3 to 4, and just on the second day, discussions went on until midnight.  Over the four days, the Board has a daunting task of tackling a tall agenda ( of 34 items.

The range of issues vary greatly. To illustrate: 13 entities need to be accredited, resource mobilisation plans need to be monitored, the concessional terms for the public sector need to be discussed, monitoring and accountability framework for the already accredited entities needs to be put in place, terms of reference for accountability units need to be approved. While there are Committees, Working Groups and Panels working between Board Meetings, the final decisions are all taken at the Board Meetings. As they are aware of the level of expectations attached to this Fund, each Member critically analyzes every proposal that is tabled against what the Fund has promised to be – paradigm shift towards low carbon growth and enhancing increased resilience of communities to the impacts of climate change.

Behind all the details however, this Board Meeting seems to be experiencing a level of tension regarding the financial instruments and the principals that will govern these. There is still deadlock in understanding how the Fund will be divided between grants and loans. In order to save time and begin to show that the GCF is ready for ‘business’ in time for CoP,  some Members are urging to start evaluating the project ideas that have come in, and consider them on a case to case basis to determine which financial instrument fits best. Delivering with speed may or may not be the most effective approach in the long run if such basic issues are left unresolved or delayed.

Henrik Harboe, the Co-Chair laid it out plainly at the opening session yesterday, ‘the three year mark of the GCF is a reason for celebration, but also the right time for reflection’. As the Observers watch the remaining 2 days of the meeting closely, it will be critical for the GCF Board to prepare and sharpen its narrative so that in December when the whole world will be watching, it surfaces as a transparent body and gains a level of credibility that it has been aspiring for.

Follow WEDO (@wedo_worldwide) and Kashmala Kakakhel (@kashmala_14) and check back for further updates.

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