Does Green Climate Fund care about its credibility?
The Green Climate Fund (GCF) was meant to provide some funding for solutions to the climate change crisis impacting developing countries. This, however, has not happened, owing to the glaring inefficiencies of the fund. National designated authorities and direct access entities in Africa are refraining from submitting new applications to the GCF until they get clarity on the outcomes of submitted project proposals. The February 2023 independent performance review of the GCF’s investments in African states shows several issues limited its effectiveness and credibility. There has been a marked decrease in the number of concept notes submitted to the GCF by multilateral development banks, bilateral development financial institutions and direct access entities because they lack confidence in its ability to process submissions. And as at last October, 190 projects had been withdrawn by various entities, the largest number being 43 projects submitted by multilateral development banks since 2018. The GCF Performance Review” report shows the African Development Bank withdrew 21 of the projects, worth $1.13 billion, largely due to the stringent procedures that lead to inefficiency, time- and resource-consuming duplication and overlap of operational policies. Financial entities lamented the stalling of submitted concept notes and even full project proposals. The problem is exacerbated by some banks and other accredited entities retreating from the GCF by not seeking re-accreditation. Then how can national accredited agencies expect to fare yet they are less well funded but still incur huge expenses in preparing proposals that may take years before approval? Most African countries have national authorising entities which ensure that projects submitted are in line with national priorities. Few of these African entities are GCF-accredited, however, due to the complicated and lengthy accreditation process. Accreditation of national entities tends to take longer than for intergovernmental agencies, meaning UN agencies, then multilateral development banks, are the leading partners for GCF projects in Africa. Thus, KCB Bank is accredited to support private sector interventions for climate change but is not yet able to submit a single project since it needs another bank that can offer similar terms with which to share the risk. Owing to this paucity of national-level GCF-accredited entities, there is little sense of ownership of projects in Africa. The requirement also discourages private sector participation. The recent evaluation shows most concept notes and proposals submitted by national entities for GCF funding have been rejected. Least-developed African countries cited lack of capacity, experience and networking as impediments to their successful preparation and implementation of project proposals and documents. The GCF needs to clarify its requirements or provide experts to assist member states to prepare credible proposals. These issues are inter-related and critical in ensuring GCF support to Africa is functional and effective. While the review shows GCF “privileges the needs of vulnerable countries without the conditionality generally expected through traditional channels of development assistance”, the reality is different. It is saddening to see proposals that took a great deal of effort to prepare being withdrawn. And failure to access the funds clearly means the GCF approval processes are confusing and overly complex. For the GCF to operate as originally intended, the recommendations of their commissioned performance reviews, as highlighted here, should be given serious consideration and be fully implemented.