CSO Update: GCF Board Meeting 27 (Day 1 – November 9, 2020)

Starting at 9:05 PM Korea Time, co-chairs Sue Szabo (Canada) and Nauman Bhatti (Pakistan) welcomed the Board to its second virtual board meeting. The said meeting is scheduled to run 4 hours a day via Zoom until 13 November 2020. Co-chair from Canada recognized the new members of the Board, together with their alternates and noted the unfortunate absence of Jorge Rodriguez, the Board Member from Cuba, because of Typhoon Eta which recently hit the country.

Adoption of the B27 Agenda

The co-chairs opened the B27 Agenda and asked the Board if they are ready to adopt the topics planned to be covered within the 5-day virtual meeting. Many BMs worry that the Updated Strategic Plan (USP), although proposed for adoption at this Board Meeting, is still not ready due to lack of documentation. It is to be noted that the USP has been deliberated by the Board since B24 in October 2019, and a special informal session dedicated to finalize the USP was conducted in Liberia last January 2020.

BM from Sweden expressed concern that the Board should have started filling policy gaps this year, one of which is the USP, and blames the very slow progress of the Board to make decisions on such policy gaps. The policy gaps he was referring to include the Integrated Results Management Framework (IRMF), the Updated Strategic Plan (USP), and the Project-Specific Assessment Approach (PSAA). He expressed his belief that not even one of the mentioned policies may be finalized. The BM from Sweden also manifested that the lack of political will and urgency from the Board members is the primary cause and not the logistical challenges brought the pandemic. He then urged the Board to make decisive actions now, with emphasis on the adoption of the IRMF which is crucial for the prospects and operations of the GCF.

The Co-chair from Canada assured the Board that the USP and the IRMF will be tabled at this Board Meeting and that necessary documentation will be made available to the Board soon.

Adoption the B26 Report and the Board Decisions Proposed Between Meetings (B26-B27)

The co-chair from Canada presented the document for the B26 report to which the Board has no comments, hence the adoption of the report. The co-chair from Pakistan also presented the decisions proposed to the Board between B26 and B27 namely:

  1. Appointment of the ethics and audit committee chairs
  2. Appointment of External Auditors, and
  3. Performance Review and Accreditation of Observer Organizations–all of which were recorded as decisions under B27.

Only the Performance Review and Accreditation of Observer Organizations were not adopted by the Board.

Report on the Activities of the Secretariat

The Executive Director (ED) of GCF, Yannick Glemarec presented his report on the activities of the Secretariat. The following are the six (6) priority areas that the Secretariat undertook from July to September 2020.

  1. Strengthening country-driven planning to originate and deliver high-quality, innovative, and scalable investments;
  2. Galvanizing engagement with Accredited Entities (AEs)
  3. Flipping Key Gaps in GCF Policy and Governance Frameworks;
  4. Reducing Engagement Costs and Time to Funding by Improving the Efficiency, Effectiveness, and Transparency of the GCF Process and the Speed of Delivery;
  5.  Adopting Adaptive Management Portfolio Implementation and Strengthening the GCF Results Management; and
  6. Consolidating Institutional Capacities and Taking Initial Steps to Position the GCF to be a Global Knowledge Hub and Policy Influencer in Climate Finance

The ED projected that the Secretariat will be able to surpass most of the operational targets for 2020 despite initially anticipating that two-thirds (2/3rds) of the GCF targets will be affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic. Based on his report, less than one-thirds (1/3rds) will be moderately or severely affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic and that the Secretariat is currently on track to achieve eighty percent (80%) of its targets. He also expects to achieve at least ninety percent (90%) by the end of the year.

Yannick also reported the policy gaps that need to be addressed. This includes the Sexual Exploitation and Harassment (SEAH) policy of the Fund, which is expected to be implemented before B28, and the outstanding issue around securing Privileges and Immunities (P&I) of the Fund, which remain to be absent in 69 countries.

Lastly, the ED reported its ongoing initiatives with regards to its priorities. He boasted that there is a 55% reduction in processing days of funding proposal submissions to approval, and a 22% reduction from approval to funds disbursement.

In terms of fund replenishment under GCF-1, the ED confirmed the receipt of the following, which when finalized, will cross the USD 10 billion replenishment target :

  • 50,000 Swiss francs from Liechtenstein
  • 100 Million Euros from Austria
  • 3 Million USD contributions from Qatar and 1 Million USD from the Brussel province (still to be finalized)

Many BMs were happy with the progress made by the Secretariat in terms of increasing efficiency of operations, especially in terms of the reduced time in the submission to approval of FPs, preparation of policy documents for Board approval, significant progress with the SEAH policy, and in developing an accessible grievance mechanism.

However, other BMs, particularly from developed countries Sweden, Denmark, and France, pointed out that a number of policies that need board adoption remain pending. They also pointed out that such policies (i.e. USP, IRMF, issues around P&Is, and the review of the Simplified Approval Process (SAP)) are crucial to the Fund’s future activities especially as more funding proposals are being considered by the Board. BM from Germany cautioned that the slow progress is beyond the control of the Secretariat, and that the Board is the one who can steer the direction of the Fund. BM from Italy agreed and blamed other BMs for delays in previous meetings. She urged the Board to address the policy gaps soon.

BMs from the developing countries on the other hand raised issues around the accessibility of the Fund, achieving funding commitments, and some logistical challenges in attending the virtual meetings. The BM from Senegal emphasized the need for the Secretariat to accelerate mechanisms that will increase DAE accreditation and the work around securing the P&Is. The BM from Liberia recognized the commitments to sign pledges by contributor countries and is hopeful for more contributions so the Fund can achieve the 90% target. The BM from Ecuador on the other, urged the Secretariat to ensure management of labor disputes and include this in the grievance mechanisms implemented.

In response to some of developed country BMs insinuating that the developing country BMs are to blame for the slow progress of addressing policy gaps in the GCF, BM from Egypt cited that the Board faced unusual challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, and that special rigor and attention remains necessary to discuss the unresolved policies erred by developed country BMs.

Reports from Board Committees, Panels, and Groups

The BM from Germany raised a number of issues regarding the lack of decorum of the BMs in many meetings which have negatively impacted the committees’ functions and effectiveness.

Other BMs commented about the role of the Independent Technical Advisory Panel (ITAP), which is tasked to assess and make recommendations to the Board regarding funding proposals (FPs). Developed country BMs, specifically the BM from Liberia, questioned how the ITAP operates and who has oversight responsibility over it. BM from Saudi Arabia manifested that the ITAP’s lack of attentiveness has caused several FPs to not reach the board for consideration and added that the role of the panel is not to decide which FP gets approved or not. The BM from Iran raised this issue must be considered a priority and urged the Board to make the review of the ITAP urgently to which the Co-chairs assured that they will include this matter as an agenda of the next meeting. An ITAP member, in defense of issues raised by the Board, stated that they were tasked to serve as the gatekeeper of FPs from the Board, but the said role somehow changed over the years due to a Board decision asking ITAP to report under the investment committee. The ITAP reassures the Board that they will function based under the purview of the Board.

Report on the Activities of the Independent Units

The Independent Units presented the highlights of their reports. The Independent Redress Mechanism (IRM), which the Information Appeals Panel (IAP) is under, presented the appeal of the CSO Active Observer (AO) Team as one of the highlights ot its report. Last May 2020, the CSO AO Team requested the Secretariat to disclose information on FPs which are expected to be discussed in B26 and B27. However, the Secretariat denied such request thus prompting the CSO AO Team to submit an appeal. The IAP recommended that the requested information be disclosed by the Secretariat as early as possible but this recommendation was rejected by the Executive Director of the Fund.

The BMs of Egypt and Sweden stated that information disclosure, especially to civil society who represent the target recipients of the projects, must be the default practice. They emphasized further that transparency and inclusiveness are among the principles which the GCF stands for. The Active Observer from developed countries Erika Lennon, delivered an intervention expressing the dismay of the CSOs at the rejection of the appeal and the dismissal of the recommendation of the IAP. She emphasized that the information requested is basic information and that there is no reasonable explanation for such information to be tagged as confidential.

Day 1 ended 30 minutes past schedule and co-chairs recommended to address the remaining agenda items (Report on the activities of the co-chairs; status of the GCF Resources, pipeline and portfolio performance; and 9th report of the GCF to COP to the UNFCCC) to be addressed on the following day.

You can catch the proceedings of the GCF B27 at https://www.greenclimate.fund/boardroom/meeting/b27#videos from 9PM – 1:00AM KST.

*Full text of CSO Interventions for B27 can be accessed here.