GCF encourages countries to submit proposals to access technologies

Songdo, 27 October 2016 (Indrajit Bose)

Delhi — The Green Climate Fund (GCF) at its 14th meeting in Songdo, South Korea, in a decision adopted by the Board to facilitate  access to environmentally sound technologies (ESTs), encouraged developing countries to submit proposals in this regard.

This was the first time that the Board at its meeting held from 12-14 November, discussed the issue of support for facilitating technology development and transfer.

In the decision adopted, the Board acknowledged “that current GCF modalities enable support for technology development and transfer, including for facilitating access to ESTs and for collaborative research and development.”

The Board encouraged “national designated authorities and focal points to access readiness support directly, or to collaborate with readiness delivery partners and accredited entities to submit readiness requests, concept notes, funding proposals and Project Preparation Facility proposals that will facilitate access to ESTs, consistent with a country-driven approach and will encourage the involvement of relevant stakeholders, including vulnerable groups and addressing gender aspects.”

On support for collaborative research and development in developing countries, the Board requested the Secretariat “to prepare a document for consideration by the Board at its 17th meeting identifying concrete options on how the GCF can support collaborative research and development in developing countries.”

The Board also decided to “continue enhancing cooperation and coherence of engagement” with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Convention’s Technology Mechanism, comprised of the Technology Executive Committee (TEC) and the Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN).

To this end, the Board requested the Secretariat to “provide recommendations on further steps to enhance this cooperation and coherence by the 17th meeting of the Board”.

In the decision adopted, the also Board encouraged “national designated authorities/focal points to coordinate with the CTCN’s national designated entities in order to enhance cooperation.”

The Board also acknowledged “that guidance, rules, modalities (referenced above) and procedures that are to be developed to implement the Paris Agreement may require later consideration by the Board, in line with guidance received from the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC or the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA) once the Paris Agreement enters into force, consistent with Article 10, paragraph 5, of the Paris Agreement.”

(Article 10.5 of the Paris Agreement reads:Accelerating, encouraging and enabling innovation is critical for an effective, long-term global response to climate change and promoting economic growth and sustainable development. Such effort shall be, as appropriate, supported, including by the Technology Mechanism and, through financial means, by the Financial Mechanism of the Convention, for collaborative approaches to research and development, and facilitating access to technology, in particular for early stages of the technology cycle, to developing country Parties.)

During the meeting, Duduzile Nhlengethwa-Masina (Swaziland), chair of the TEC, and Spencer Thomas (Grenada), chair of the CTCN, addressed the GCF Board members and outlined their expectations on how the GCF and the Technology Mechanism could further collaborate to yield better results to support facilitating access to environmentally sound technologies and for collaborative research and development.

Nhlengethwa-Masina said she saw opportunities for collaboration in the area of Technology Needs Assessment (TNAs), which are a set of country-driven activities to identify priorities for mitigation and adaptation and which are prepared by national governments. “More than half of the TNAs have identified linkages between the TNAs and other national and multilateral processes, which means the TNAs are not a standalone activity. One of the barriers reported in the TNAs is economic and financial, which is where the GCF comes in; and technical, which is where the Technology Mechanism comes in. This is where the financial and technology mechanisms have a crucial role to play,” said Nhlengethwa-Masina.

Nhlengethwa-Masina also said that current GCF modalities enable support for facilitating access to ESTs and for collaborative RD&D (research development and deployment). “TEC will work on RD&D and innovation in 2017. TEC stands ready to support GCF’s work in the context of its planned activities on R&D, if invited to do so,” she said.

She added that countries should be encouraged to use the GCF’s Project Preparation Facility (PPF) to prepare technology projects and this should also be done in collaboration with the Technology Mechanism.

(The GCF Board has established a facility for the preparation of project proposals called the PPF. The PPF can provide funding to entities of up to 10 per cent of the requested GCF funding sought, with a maximum of USD 1.5 million for any single proposal. Under the PPF, accredited entities, especially direct access entities and micro-to-small size category projects, can seek funding for project preparation.)

Thomas, the Chair of the CTCN said technical assistance is the flagship product of the Centre, where there are a lot of country requests for technical assistance. “It could be linked directly to GCF readiness and PPF.” He supported the direct intervention of the GCF and CTCN in this area.

He also said that another area where collaboration between the Financial Mechanism and the Technology Mechanism could be furthered is to increase cooperation between the National Designated Authorities (NDAs) of the GCF, and the National Designated Entities (NDEs) of the CTCN.

(NDAs are national agencies, which serve as focal point designations for the GCF; NDEs serve as entities for climate technology action and are focal points for interacting with the CTCN.)

There was overwhelming support for this suggestion by the GCF Board members.

Thomas also said that the CTCN looked forward to concrete engagement in the area of research and development. “We are encouraged with progress on finance. We will be able to assist as we go forward. Resources should be going to countries themselves. CTCN will ensure what whatever support it receives will go to the countries,” said Thomas.

Some developing country Board members expressed disappointment that their proposals did not figure in the decision adopted by the Board.

For instance, Jorge Ferrer Rodriguez (Cuba), supported by Omar El Arini (Egypt) had mentioned about learning from other institutions’ experiences and for expediting the adoption of the technology indicator under the GCF’s performance measurement framework. Since these were not reflected in the decision proposed for adoption, Rodriguez and El Arini requested that their observations be recorded in the report of the meeting.

Below are some highlights of exchanges that took place among Board members.

Jorge Ferrer-Rodriguez (Cuba) said that the GCF need not cooperate only with bodies under the UNFCCC, but also benefit from the experiences of other bodies, and avoid duplication. “A technology bank for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) was created under the Sustainable Development Goals agenda. Besides that there are other institutions such as International Renewable Energy Agency, FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation) etc, whom I think we can work with and benefit from their knowledge and experience,” said Rodriguez.  He also said that the adoption of an indicator for technology under the performance indicator framework was long pending and that needs to be finalized.

Omar El Arini (Egypt) stressed that there is a need to “forge a formal relationship if we are serious about disseminating technology”. “In the Governing Instrument of the GCF, we introduced the term paradigm shift and so far there is neither a ‘paradigm’ nor a ‘shift’. We are seeing run of the mill projects, and I do not think this will take us far.  We need to have a formalized relationship and this decision should have a paragraph to formalize the relationship with (the relevant) bodies concerned,” said Arini.

He also said that research and development had been a sticking issue since it was introduced in the “international vernacular”. “Technologies are primarily developed in the North. Very few technologies are developed in the South. Technology fit for use in Finland cannot be readily transferred to Egypt for many reasons. I would support money for research and development to begin with and for the adoption and adaptation of the technology,” stressed El Arini further.

Regarding the PPF, he said, “We have not forgotten about it. We do not know what to do with it. Should the money go to the Accredited Entities? Should some of the money go to the CTCN? We have (technology) centres spread all over. I think we have a window of opportunity to examine these avenues of cooperation and the Secretariat has a very important role to play through the readiness programme.”

In this regard, he also said that they should establish a relationship with the thematic bodies of the Convention and with other bodies outside the Convention.

Ali’Ioaiga Feturi Elisaia (Samoa) said that Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and other developing countries lack access to technology. He added that besides financial and institutional capacity constraints, the SIDS’ biggest constraint is in the area of technology. He added that with the entry into force of the Paris Agreement on 4 November, developing countries are looking for financial support for technology transfer to help implement their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) and developing countries have been looking for a long time to link the UNFCCC Technology Mechanism to the Financial Mechanism. The decision is a good first step to make the linkage, he said.

Kamal uddin Ahmed (Bangladesh) said the intellectual property rights (IPR) issue had not been resolved under the UNFCCC and collaborative research and development is one of the ways to promote technology access to countries. The GCF should initiate and acquire existing technologies and research and development should be there for technology assessment, requirement and transfer to these countries, he said.

Andrea Ledward (UK) said access and collaborative research and development were being treated as two separate elements, which she was not in favour of. For Ledward, the term technology development and transfer encompassed the research and development component as well.

“The language is reflected in Article 10 of the Paris Agreement and the Governing Instrument of the GCF. We support coherence and diffusion of climate related technologies and we want to see complementary relations between the GCF and the arms of the Technology Mechanism. Cooperation in the country level is key to doing this,” said Ledward.

Lars Roth (Sweden) said crafting activities for future collaboration, would be of great importance to provide a clear division of labour for the GCF, the GEF and the CTCN to avoid duplication of effort and mandate.

Cyril Rosseau (France) said to achieve the ambition of the Paris Agreement, the key is to facilitate access to most efficient technologies. “GCF needs to support projects. We support this decision. We support enhancing cooperation with the Technology Mechanism. We need to move to concrete proposals. There are a number of projects with technology development and transfer component and it would be useful to take into account those while considering options on how the GCF can support collaborative research and development,” said Rosseau.

Leonardo Diaz-Martinez (US) said GCF financing in the two areas of business incubation and start-up financing were welcome. “We think that the GCF considering activities like strengthening national innovation systems and supporting business incubation and financial support for viable new technologies to be deployed in developing countries are the way to go. It is fully in line with the mandate of the GCF and the GCF should be willing to take risks, especially where the private sector is not willing to go and invest in very early stage ventures,” said Diaz-Martinez.

He also supported capacity building for developing countries to enhance endogenous capacities related to climate technologies and cautioned against the GCF becoming duplicative of other institutions such as the CTCN.

He also said that there are two areas where the GCF should not go. “One of them is direct financing for research and development. It will take funding away from more immediate needs such as needs to implement the NDCs. A second area we would not support is financing research centres or networks that focus on basic research and not applied research. The reason is these are replicative of other existing technology initiatives, such as the technology facilitation mechanism, the LDC technology bank, CTCN, mission innovation and other bilateral research network,” said Diaz-Martinez.

(Edited by Meena Raman)

UNFCCC / Green Climate Fund / 14th GCF Board meeting
12 October - 14 October 2016, Songdo, Incheon, Republic of Korea
by Indrajit Bose
Songdo, 27 October 2016