The Green Climate Fund held its 20th Board meeting (B.20) from July 1-4, 2018. On site to track and monitor progress were Maria Julia Tramutola (Latin America), Massan d’Almeida (Africa), and Wanun Permpibul (Asia-Pacific), all participants in WEDO/BothEnds project “Women Demand Gender-Just Climate Finance”. Maria Julia, Massan and Wanun have taken on the role of ‘GCF Monitors’

While the Board meeting itself did not achieve its goals, the three monitors found great value in using this space to better understand the GCF, to network and coordinate with other civil society observers, to connect with the GCF’s various actors, and to plan and collaborate with each other about activities to engage women’s groups in the GCF in their various regions.

The Board meeting was beset by seeming procedural issues that underscored strong political tensions and challenges with which the Fund will have to grapple in the coming months as it initiates its first replenishment process, accelerates disbursement for already approved projects, considers proposals for projects and entities in the pipeline, adopts and implements various policies, and addresses how to best operate and govern. (Check out this piece from Climate Home ‘8 takeaways from the Green Climate Fund meltdown‘) As our colleague Brandon Wu of Action Aid stated, “The people and communities the GCF is meant to support – those who are most vulnerable – are the ones who suffer the most when progress is delayed.”

While observers—as well as Board members—were disappointed in the meeting outcome, the challenges are recognized, and the three GCF Monitors, like many, left the meeting more committed to engaging with the GCF, and ensuring others can engage. The Fund can and should support the design, implementation, and monitoring of both adaptation and mitigation projects, particularly for the most vulnerable regions and populations, and women’s rights activists and organizations have an opportunity to engage with the GCF processes to ensure justice, equity, and gender-responsiveness are integral parts of these multi-million dollar projects.

Gender mainstreaming into GCF work is key and it is very important that all stakeholders have a common understanding on what a gender responsive programme is to effectively deliver positive gender sensitive results and impacts for its beneficiaries. If not, these projects will be increasing the gender gap and in many cases be impacting negatively women and girls in communities while attempting to mitigate climate change effects on populations and or increase their resilience.

-Massan d’Almeida, African GCF Monitor

Engaging can be difficult, though, and that’s why Wanun, Massan, and Maria Julia are working on ways to make the GCF accessible, so women’s voices and perspectives are reflected throughout the project life-cycle, from inception to implementation to monitoring to understanding impact to ensuring lessons learned are incorporated into future funding. The GCF Monitors are learning more about navigating the structure of this multi-billion dollar fund by connecting with the GCF actors, from the Secretariat that oversees the fund and drafts decisions and policies for the Board’s review, to the National Designated Authorities that oversee the GCF in their country and must give a stamp of approval to each project, to the Accredited Entities that design, propose, and implement the projects. They are learning more about reviewing projects and policies, coordinating with a group of other civil society observers for the weeks leading up to the Board meeting and meeting in-person the three days prior to the meeting to discuss areas of concern and draft interventions.

As one of the two Active Civil Society Observers reiterated during the preparatory meetings, in an oft-cited and all too-true sentiment, civil society space not claimed is lost, and the GCF Monitors seek to increase the voices in this space, to ensure the right voices are shaping the processes and outcomes of the largest climate fund in the world. Vital are the inputs of those who have worked with these accredited entities before, as accredited entities are often development banks with long histories in a country or region; crucial are the inputs of those who are going to be impacted by the project, especially indigenous peoples’ groups and women’s groups and other community-led organizations who know the communities and landscapes of the area. Those with expertise on a sector or issue often reside in civil society, and gender specialists can and should contribute to crafting Gender Action Plans for each project that are robust and guide truly gender-responsive implementation.

Using their experiences at the 19th and 20th Board meetings of the GCF and their knowledge of their regions, Massan, Maria Julia, and Wanun are sharing insights and creating networks and feedback mechanisms in their respective regions. They are working with others to figure out how to best engage with the projects not just at the point of approval at Board meetings, but at the points of design and later, implementation. What can the engagement of civil society, particularly women’s organizations, mean for a multi-billion-dollar climate fund–with gender enshrined in its foundation–that is shaping and financing projects across the Global South? How could engagement contribute to access for women’s organizations to funding for gender-just climate solutions? These are just a few of the questions that guide WEDO’s work in climate finance and energize the GCF Monitors as they continue to navigate this space.

Women can be agents of change and solution-creators in climate change issues. In order to make them part of the conversations, it is important to reach out women’s groups in different parts of the world with two main goals: let them know about the GCF as an opportunity to get funding for their projects and bring to the table their knowledge, their views and experiences in dealing with climate change. Funding proposals need to consider gender in their approach, to ensure women will both be part of the project and will benefit in the solutions implemented.

-Maria Julia Tramutola, Latin American GCF Monitor

The GCF Monitors are sharing some highlights about why this work is significant, why you—as someone interested in women, the environment, and/or development—should engage, and what value you may find in following the GCF in the fifth webinar in the Women’s Rights and Climate Finance series, held on August 28, 2018.

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