Green Climate Fund board meets for first time amid controversy over transparency

By John Parnell

The first meeting of a new fund for climate action has been overshadowed by fears that the private sector, rather than impacted communities, will drive the decision making process.

A report by Friends of the Earth US, GAIA and the Institute for Policy Studies has raised concerns that companies and donor governments will take over the process of distributing money from the Green Climate Fund (GCF).

The fund was approved at the 2010 Cancun COP16 climate talks. The aim of the mechanism is to channel $100 billion a year towards the world’s poorest nations in an attempt to help them cope with the effects of climate change.

Progress on developing the GCF’s powers was blocked during the Bonn climate talks in May – with developing and developed countries blaming each other for the impasse.

Following a delay with the Green Climate Fund's progress in Bonn earlier in the year, its first meeting takes place this week in Geneva. (Source: Flickr/UNFCCC)

“We have seen this play out before, and it’s not a pretty picture: time and again, public money that is supposed to help the world’s poor has been diverted into the pockets of polluting, multinational corporations and Wall Street,” the report’s authors said in a statement.

They are concerned that the developing communities that would benefit from projects backed by the GCF are being excluded from discussions.

As the board of the GCF meets for the first time in Geneva, NGOs are also unhappy with their observer status at the meeting.

Brandon Wu, Senior Policy Analyst at ActionAid points out that part of the reason the GCF was developed was to tackle community engagement and transparency issues with existing climate financing channels.

“To do that we need to ensure that as many civil society organisations, observers and communities need to participate in the process,” he told RTCC.

The “no objection clause” in the GCF’s rule could be problematic. It says that observers must be recognised by the Chair, which is standard, but it adds, as long as no board member objects, that could be problematic,” adds Wu.

The meetings will not be webcast further impinging on the transparency of the GCF.

GCF board members and representatives from select NGOs met informally on the eve of the fund’s first formal proceedings to discuss the grievances.

The absence of transparency has added fuel to their claims that the GCF will not be accountable for the money it allocates opening it up for exploitation by the private sector.

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