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Climate finance: CSOs ask GCF to strongly focus on vulnerable communities, women

The Green Climate Fund (GCF) has been called upon to have a stronger focus on communities at the frontline of climate crisis, ensuring that finance is reaching local level and is financing locally led projects.

Green Climate Fund (GCF)
Sven Harneling of CARE International opening the session

African civil society representatives who met on Saturday, February 25, 2023, in Niamey, Niger, on the side-lines of the 9th Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (ARFSD-IX), also want gender considerations integrated to make sure women access and benefit equally from GCF funded outcomes.

The CSOs, who met under the GCF-CSOs Readiness Project Africa to reflect on country-level results from the monitoring and evaluation processes undertaken under the project over the last two years, likewise urged the GCF to endorse the Principles for Locally Led Adaptation {LLA}, and integrate them in their evaluation of funding proposals, while expediting establishment of new funding windows that facilitate more local access to finance, including for CSOs.

In its efforts to realise a strong focus on local communities, the activists called on the GCF to establish a funding window for direct access for communities and CSOs at the onset of the new strategic period and to ring-fence a minimum of 30% of its resources for this cause, for greater relevance of the entity and impact of its climate response measures.

The reflections at the forum, organised by the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA), Care International and Germanwatch, aimed to draw joint recommendations for improving the quality of GCF-funded programmes in Africa, as well as the transparency and accountability of the GCF processes and projects.

They expressed disappointment by the first replenishment period under which the GCF allegedly underperformed in climate funding mobilised, inaccessible funding mechanisms by poor and less developed countries, extremely low trickle-down of funding to frontline communities and widespread inaccessible information that compromised on accountability.

The gathering however insisted on GCF to promote stronger local partnerships to ensure that GCF-funded projects do not undermine, but complement existing initiatives, while also making sure that projects and programmes strengthen national and local governance and provide capacity-building support to ensure sustainability.

They reiterated the need for the GCF to live up to its spirit of facilitating access to climate funds to climate vulnerable countries and communities with at least 50% of the total funding supporting adaptation projects.

PACJA
A group of participants at the function

To do this, the CSOs added, the GCF should provide large parts (90 percent) of its funding in form of grants and with a greater focus on adaptation, assigning fair weights to social and environmental returns on investments.

The GCF was further told to consider the implications of its policies and funding decisions on debt situation of developing countries that are struggling with high levels of debt and ensure climate funds, drawn from its pipeline do not create debt distress, but rather embody the principles of climate justice and the spirit of the Paris Agreement.

While urging the GCF to strengthen mechanism for CSOs and communities to play a strong watchdog role over the fund by entrenching their roles across the entire GCF projects and programme pipelines at all levels, the CSOs called on the body to offer more targeted support to developing countries to enhance the capacities of their National Designated Authorities (NDAs), to ensure that their engagement in the GCF process is structured and clearly articulated.

“It should also work with NDAs to support them in establishing whole-of-society approaches for GCF processes that include CSOs and communities at the frontline of climate crisis,” they added.

The activists had earlier expressed reservations over:

  • the parameters of consideration by GCF in capacity assessment processes which constrain access to funding to local institutions, including community owned entities, creating dependence on international intermediaries and limit locally developed solutions in adaptation.
  • the growing contribution of GCF to global inequality as large amount of GCF funding (66 percent of all GCF funding) flows through just a few (five) large multilateral entities to fund projects that are not even elaborated at country level.
  • the realisation that there are no substantive changes made at GCF level in policy, architecture and institutional changes to address inequality in access of GCF funding while impacting on inequality landscape in response to climate change in this second replenishment and that the second replenishment period is another partying lease for large multilaterals.

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