Can we count on the GCF?

Assessing the GCF’s performance on funding adaptation for the most vulnerable countries

By the end of this year, the Green Climate Fund (GCF) — the main international fund designated to help countries address climate change — will have been active for six years. At this point, it would be a good time to reflect back and evaluate the progress of the Green Climate Fund, thus far.

The Paris Agreement emphasised the GCF’s role as a key provider of predictable financial resources in the post-2020 framework.

The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) estimates that the cost for the least developed countries (LDCs) to implement their post-2020 climate action plans would be around $93 billion per year.

Considering its performance so far, should LDCs count on GCF to finance their climate actions?

Just a few days ago, the GCF board held its 15th meeting (from December 13 to 15) in Samoa, approving eight new proposals valued together at $315.2 million, and 35 projects valued at $1.5bn.

Three of the projects approved were for adaptation, of which two are set in Least Developing Countries (LDCs). The two countries that received funding were Uganda and Vanuatu — Bangladesh, unfortunately, failed to receive any.

It might be worth mentioning that the target was for the board to spend $2.5bn of its $10.3bn pot by the end of 2016, and as of now the GCF is left with $1bn unspent.

However, to really get a sense of the GCF — one has to look at the projects approved, overall, in the last six years. Out of the 35 projects approved, 17 are adaptation projects with a total allocation of $429m.

If we ask how much of that went to LDCs, then the figure is nine projects amounting to $203.1m.

So the funds going to adaptation is 29%, so far, of the total approved fund, and of that 47% went to LDC countries.

Bangladesh, thus far has managed to get an allocation of $40m for one adaptation project. When it comes to mitigation, $495.1m has been allocated for 10 projects and only a small amount of the approved funding is targeted towards LDCs.

If we now turn our attention to the accreditation process of the GCF which allows for accreditation of international, regional, and national implementing entities, we find that GCF has accredited a total of 14 national entities as opposed to 25 international entities — and out of 14 national entities, only three are from LDCs.

Majority of the approved projects (25 out of 35) are being implemented by the international implementing entities like UNDP, World Bank, etc.

On the other hand, five national entities (six projects out of 35) have managed to get their projects approved of which only one is from the LDCs.

This statistics gives rise to the concern that GCF is not being bold enough in supporting local entities from LDCs that need capacity building to undertake climate change and development initiatives.

There are 48 LDCs, whose funding requirements for adaptation are probably in tens of billions of dollars, and only 6.25% LDCs have been accredited as NIEs and only $203.1m has been allocated to LDCs for adaptation.

At this rate, the GCF will probably take many decades to provide all the LDCs money for adaptation. Given that the poorest communities in the LDCs are facing adverse climate change impacts already, it would seem that putting their faith to get funding from the GCF may not be worth the effort.

Originally this article was published on Wednesday December 21, 2016 at Dhaka Tribune. The author Dr. Saleemul Huq is the director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) at the Independent University, Bangladesh (IUB).
Naznin Nasir is Communications & Research Officer at the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD).