“Hit the ground running.”

downloadWith this statement the Executive Director of the Green Climate Fund (GCF), Ms. Hela Cheikhrouhou, reported on the current status of the fund. The interactive session held on Thursday at COP 20 provided a brief overview of the latest GCF decisions, and laid out the expected deliverables for next year.  Offering an optimistic perspective, Ms. Hela affirmed that grants are scheduled to start being distributed next year in the hope that approved mitigation and adaptation projects can be presented at COP 21.  But for the GCF to be able to do so, the interested countries will have to do their homework and develop functioning institutions to tackle climate finance flow. From GCF’s part, Ms. Hela explained that procedure rules will be kept simple to allow “less process, more access.” 

This seems to be the ideal approach; climate funds bureaucracy has been one of the main obstacles for these funds to effectively reach vulnerable countries  – least developed, small island, and African countries.  But is this a fair procedure?  Many in the session raised concerns related to the hurry in approving projects for Paris 2015, and how this simplified, speed process will once again negatively impact countries that are more vulnerable to climate change impacts.  

climatefinancingsign_0The imbalance between least developed countries and larger developing countries has been seen through the years, and is present in several of the mechanisms adopted under the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol.  The most critical example is the clean development mechanisms (CDM). During the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, countries like China, Brazil, and India were responsible for hosting the majority of CDM approved projects. In the financing context, this gap is based on vulnerable countries’ lack of institutional capacity to properly enable climate finance flow.   

The bottom line is that less process is ideal, and it will lead to more access.  But without the right rules in place, it will not provide access to those countries that might be the highest in need. The readiness process offered by the GCF, while promising, will make difficult for these countries to take advantage of the fund resources if greater support for capacity building is not provided on time.  A lot of work will have to be done, but 2015 “hit the ground running” approach will, once again, leave the most vulnerable countries behind – the opposite direction of GCF’s goal.