GCF Board approves additional USD 14 million for readiness support

New Delhi, 12 November 2015 (Indrajit Bose)

The Board of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) at its 11th meeting held in Zambia adopted approved an additional USD 14 million for readiness support.

According to the GCF Secretariat, given the demands and requests from developing countries, by March 2016, the committed US $16 million would have been used up and another US $28 million was likely to be committed by mid next year. The Secretariat requested the Board for the release of an additional US $ 14 million for readiness support, which was approved by the Board.

Board members, from both developed and developing countries also expressed concerns over the slow pace of disbursement of readiness funds to developing countries.

During the discussions on readiness, developing country Board members outlined readiness support and that it should be not be seen just within the scope of capacity- building but that was actually much more to it, in terms of strengthening national institutions in developing countries to ensure country programmes that would be transformational in addressing climate change.

There was also considerable exchange of views on the draft decision presented to the Board members by the Secretariat, which proposed that US $2 million could be allocated to a developing country for the preparation of a national adaptation plan (NAP).

While the developing country Board members did not want to place a cap on the support for NAPs, several developed country Board members questioned the need for the GCF to support this when other institutions such as the Global Environment Facility (GEF) was already funding the preparation of NAPs.

In the decision taken, the Board reaffirmed that the GCF, through its readiness and preparatory support programme, in coordination with other programmes and channels, “may support a voluntary country driven national adaptation planning process…”  

The Board also decided that “an additional US$ 14 million is to be made available for the execution of the readiness and preparatory support programme”.

The Board reaffirmed that readiness and preparatory support is a priority for the GCF in order to enhance country ownership, ensure a strong pipeline and provide sustained support for building institutional capacity to enable direct access, and emphasizes that the execution of the readiness programme should take into account different national circumstances.

The Board decided to “review the interim readiness funding allocation system at its twelfth meeting”.

In the decision adopted, the Board tasked the GCF Secretariat with presenting at the twelfth Board meeting, a revised allocation system for readiness and preparatory support taking into account the needs and priorities of developing countries. The Board also requested the Secretariat that the revised allocation system includes an information note on how the GCF can support developing countries in their voluntary national adaptation planning processes, including activities the funds can be used for.

As per the decision taken, the Secretariat, in consultation with national designated authorities (NDAs) and focal points and readiness delivery partners, is expected to present to the Board at its next meeting a proposal to improve and simplify the process to access funds for country programming and readiness and preparatory support.

The Board also underscored the importance of “significantly increasing the approval and timely disbursement of resources to support developing countries in undertaking country programming processes, and strengthening national institutions from the public and private sectors to access the GCF and to build country programmes and pipelines”.

The decision came after a rich exchange of views followed by the Secretariat’s progress report on readiness (see exchange below).

In its progress report on readiness to the Board, the GCF Secretariat said that they had received 95 readiness requests and five grant agreements had been signed, of which the amount for one country was disbursed. The Secretariat also said that they were working with countries to speed up disbursement and were getting more involved with the NDAs. The Secretariat informed that they had developed a guidance note for country programme, provided gap analysis support to some direct access entities and conducted regional workshops and training for accredited entities.

Outlining its lessons from the readiness process so far, the Secretariat said that a standardized approach is very efficient; outreach through regional workshops were helpful; there was demand for stronger coordination within regions and the leadership by some NDAs was useful in setting an example for the others.

It also informed the Board that it had worked with the Adaptation Committee and the LDC Experts Group to support countries with the NAPs process.

Highlights of exchanges on readiness:

David Kaluba (Zambia) sought clarification on the proposed plan to advance the readiness programme. He expressed concern on the slow pace of rolling out readiness funding. “It is slow in the sense that of the number of the entities being accredited, many are international entities and national entities are falling behind,” said Kaluba and added that there is a need to expedite the process and give a fair opportunity to accredit national implementing entities. He stressed that since readiness started much earlier, it is important that the GCF moves fast on the issue. He also expressed concern that funding proposals were being tabled without receiving any readiness support and sought clarity on where some of these proposals stood with respect to the national priorities.

On the proposed US $2 million to be allocated to a country for the preparation of a NAP, Kaluba suggested not to have this capped because NDAs might require considerable financial support. The US $2 million allocation is a minimum amount at best and the expected amounts would be high, he added.

Dipak Dasgupta (India) stressed the importance of readiness and said if progress is not made on the issue, then the message would go out that “the bus is being run on a half-horsepower engine”. He said countries have to be put in the driving seat. He reminded Board members that this was not an aid-driven readiness programme but that it is about aligning countries’ priorities for the GCF. Dasgupta also expressed deep disappointment over the slow pace of disbursements.

Zaheer Fakir (South Africa) said readiness is often seen as a capacity building programme, whereas the true idea of readiness is how it is used to build and empower the NDAs to be the leaders and champions of country programmes and enhance and strengthen stakeholder engagement and facilitate complementarity between GCF and other funds. “Readiness funding for me is not a handout. It should be an investment, the return of which ensures we get country owned programmes that are on scale, sustainable and which attract and leverage broad collective transformational action,” said Fakir and added that the foremost priority is to address the Secretariat’s capacity to deliver readiness. Fakir also said that the Board needs to reconsider its decision on allocation for readiness, which was taken at the eighth Board meeting in Barbados. Fakir also called for the simplification of the readiness proposals.

Omar El Arini (Egypt) expressed concern about signing agreements with NDAs but not having the ability to enhance disbursements. He stressed that there was an acute shortage and need for institutional strengthening in developing countries and added that developing countries should be treated as partners. He also said that the country programming template was complicated and that it must be simplified. He called for changing course on readiness and stressed the need to build institutions and develop capacity that will be sustainable.

Tosi Mpanu Mpanu (Democratic Republic of Congo) also expressed disappointment about the slow disbursement of funds and called for readiness money to be scaled up. He said that with regard to country ownership, there should be no prescriptive approach. If countries wanted to go to the GCF and not the GEF, they should be able to do so.

Jorge Ferrer Rodriguez (Cuba) cautioned against a ‘one size fits all’ approach. Patrick McCaskie (Barbados) stressed that readiness funds should be directed for direct access entities and called for the US $14 million to be released. 

Anders Wallberg (Sweden) wanted to know the rationale for NAP financing in the proposed draft decision. Wallberg said there exists financing from the LDC Fund for national adaptation programmes of action (NAPAs) and GEF for NAPs and that there should be no duplication. 

Jose Delgado (Austria) said since the NAP is a voluntary process and not a standalone programme, the decision should say that the GCF may support a voluntary country driven national adaptation planning process.

Stefan Schwager (Switzerland) also wanted to know the rationale for the US $2 million ceiling. Ewen McDonald (Australia) wanted to know why disbursements had been so little. Arnaud Buisse (France) also sought clarity on the US $2 million figure and said it should not be increased or decreased but that they should have the right amount.

Andrea Ledward (United Kingdom) urged the Secretariat to expedite the  disbursements. She also said she looked forward to the review of the readiness programme next year, which should give the Board evidence of impact. On money for NAPs, she said it is hard to understand what money is needed at this stage now.

Karsten Sach (Germany) said the Secretariat must move from activities to reporting outcomes and what is happening in the field. He also said that he could not support the proposed decision on NAPs since they are supported by the GEF whereas the added value of the GCF would be in implementation and pipeline development of the plans.

Caroline Lecrec (Canada) wanted to know why the rate of disbursements was so low before committing more funding. Leonardo Diaz Martinez (United States) said while he welcomed the GCF supporting NAPs, he wanted a better sense of what the US $2 million is for. He requested the Secretariat to prepare a paper for the next Board meeting of how the Secretariat would support countries in the development of NAPs.

(Edited by Meena Raman)

TWN Info Service on Climate Change Nov15/05

UNFCCC / Green Climate Fund / 11th GCF Board meeting
2 November - 5 November 2015, Livingstone, Zambia
by Indrajit Bose
New Delhi, 12 November 2015