Policy Paper

Inching Forward: the Second Meeting of the Green Climate Fund Board and the Nitty-Gritty of GCF Operationalization

November 21, 2012
Liane Schalatek

Where the first meeting of the Board of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) in late August was dominated by an awareness of its history-making and imbued with goodwill and optimism, at the second GCF Board meeting in Songdo, South Korea from October 17 - 20 the mood was decidedly more somber, if not irritated at times as the sometimes frustratingly slow nitty-gritty of the technocratic work to operationalize the Fund fully by early 2014 began in earnest.  At the same time, some of the fundamental differences among the 24 Board members and their alternates about the vision of the Fund and with which business model and financial instruments to achieve the desired transformation impact, -- unresolved in the design process for the GCF in the Transitional Committee last year -- resurfaced and sometimes stalled progress in the full Board. Not surprisingly, the two Board co-chairs had to focus their attention in Songdo primarily on how to move the process forward, while not burying disagreements and addressing procedural discontent.  They sought help in assigning teams of Board members to consult informally throughout the meeting on ways to bridge differences.  Several Board member teams were also tasked by the full Board in working to make progress on issues to be discussed at the next GCF Board Meeting in Berlin, Germany from March 12 – 15, 2013.  Three separate teams of Board members, assigned in Songdo, will work until Berlin on preparing full Board discussion and decision on the selection of the Executive Director for the GCF, the Fund’s business model as well as the additional rules of procedures needed to ensure accountability, transparency and inclusivity in the way the GCF Board and the Fund conduct their work.  The most concrete outcome in Songdo was the selection of South Korea from a field of six contender countries as the future host of the GCF.  Upon confirmation by the Conference of Parties (COP) at its 18th meetings in Doha, South Korea and the Board will work on a host country agreement as a prerequisite to confer legal personality to the Fund as speedily as possible post-Doha.  COP 18 will also deal with the first annual report of the GCF to the Parties agreed on in Songdo, but might not address the details of the arrangements necessary to ensure that the GCF ”will be accountable to and function under the guidance” of the COP, as the GCF’s Governing Instrument demands.  In Songdo, Board members could not agree on who –the Board or the COP – would have the prerogative of defining the terms of that relationship.

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NOTE: In contrast to the proceedings for the design of the GCF in the Transitional Committee last year, the Songdo meeting was not webcast or archived; thus far no official record of the meeting has been shared with the public. This reflects the fact that the new Board so far has had no agreement on an information disclosure policy for Board meetings. This summary -- mindful of the absence of a formally agreed GCF disclosure policy and respectful of future decisions on that matter by the full Board -- therefore omits the attribution of statements made during the Board meeting to specific members. In the spirit of transparency and information sharing with those not able to participate, the summary report's intent is to reflect on some of the key issues and exchanges of the Songdo meeting. It is based on notes taken by the author as well as on the content of the hard copies of preparatory documents for the Songdo meeting shared with observers present in Songdo, but not (yet) distributed electronically or posted on the GCF website.

 
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