The board of the Green Climate Fund, which is called to be the key instrument for financing climate change measures, met for the first time this September. Climate change impacts have increased all over above forecasts, the recent reports are devastating, leaving millions in losses and thousands of lives. At this first meeting, 23-25 August, the Board discussed many procedural issues, some very important as civil society participation. Anabella Rosemberg, from ITUC, attended the meeting, and sent us her report.
Background: The creation of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) was decided in Cancun in 2010, with the objective of managing a substantial part of the 100bn dollars to be found for climate action. COP17 in Durban agreed on its governing instrument. Some key aspects of the instrument include: Equal representation of developing and developed countries, a “private sector” window, by which enterprises can apply for funds, the participation of two “active observers” from civil society and two from the private sector, the need to agree on social and environmental safeguards for projects, among others. The Fund will not deal with the sources of money as such (those will be discussed under the ‘Standing Committee’ –to meet for the first time in Bangkok in September- and in a separate “Long Term Finance” group, which will meet in Cape Town in October).
After several months of negotiations, the members of the Board were selected in June, and the first meeting was scheduled for the 23-25th August.
Information on the composition of the Board, the governing instrument and the agenda for the first meeting are available in the GCF website: www.gcfund.net
Main discussion topics at the meeting: The agenda of the first meeting focused on key procedural aspects (election of co-chairs, participation of observers, election of Host Country of the Fund, election and role of the Interim Secretariat, rules of procedure, role and responsibilities of the Interim Trustee (the World Bank).
The meeting elected for two years of the co-chairs: Mr. Zaheer Fakir (Ministry of Environment - South Africa) and Mr. Ewen McDonald (Australian Agency for Development - Australia).
On many issues of the agenda there will be new text proposed, based on the exchanges during the meeting.
· The Host Country. This was with no doubt one of the hottest topics of the discussion. There are 6 countries that have submitted a candidature to host the Fund: Switzerland, Germany, South Korea, Mexico, Poland and Namibia). The Board agreed on the criteria against which the candidates will be evaluated (ie Legal Status, privileges and immunities, financial arrangements and administrative support, local facilities)
· Arrangements for the interim Secretariat and the interim Trustee. New papers will be prepared by the Secretariat.
· Rules of procedure: long discussions took place on the issue of voting. In principle the Board should aim at consensus, but they all recognized that a procedure for deciding on matters where there is no consensus is needed. There is a clear division between some countries willing to have voting rights based on their contributions (like in the IMF) and those willing to have a one seat, one vote arrangement. If the latest, the risk for ending up with a tie is high, so a procedure for breaking it appears to be necessary as well. It seems that a committee will be created to work on this issue and come back with proposals for the next meeting.
· Arrangements for observers’ participations will be discussed again in the next meeting. The extent to which observers (like unions) will be able to attend the meetings is unclear. In this meeting we were able to watch the meeting from an overflow room and two observers for CSO were allowed to enter the room and stay there without speaking rights, with the exception of the agenda item dealing with observers. The Secretariat will prepare a paper on the issue.
The governing instrument indicates that the Board will invite two civil society representatives to seat as “active observers”. There are several things that need to be clarified:
- the process for selecting the active observers
- the rights those active observers will have
- the role of “non active” observers
During the period that preceded the creation of the GCF, trade unions had discussions with other civil society groups in order to start building a common position on those issues. During this meeting we managed to agree on a series of demands, which include: the right for observers to seat in the meeting if there is room, the need for all meetings to be webcasted with proceedings being made public, the need for a self-selection process for the active observers, the need for having the possibility of having alternate members and to form a civil society advisory council, which will represent the views of the different civil society constituencies, with regional and gender balance, the need for the provision of funds for active observers participation, among others.
Governments have expressed different views on our proposals, going from the most positive (active observers should have same rights than board members, with the exception of voting) to the most negative (active observers should be invited only to some agenda items, there should be no disclosure of the contents of the meeting, and a procedure for excluding the active observer if there was a breach in the rules). The discussion in November in the next meeting of the Board might give more signals on the potential outcomes of this debate.
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