CSO Update: Green Climate Fund Board Meeting #21
The Kingdom of Bahrain, through the National Oil and Gas Authority, is hosting the 21st Board Meeting of the Green Climate Fund from 17-20 October 2018, at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Manama.
Salaam from the Kingdom of Bahrain!
The Kingdom of Bahrain, through the National Oil and Gas Authority, is hosting the 21st Board Meeting of the Green Climate Fund from 17-20 October 2018, at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Manama. And we are here again to give you the latest updates.
Day 0 – October 16
This Board Meeting started the work early as several sessions were conducted last October 16. Informal meetings were done in the afternoon, which allowed our CSO active observers Lidy Nacpil (South) and Liane Schalatek (North) raise questions regarding funding proposals and accreditation proposals that are to be considered at this meeting. We expressed our concerns regarding the delay and/or non-disclosure of relevant documents especially those projects that are categorized as Category A projects.
In the evening, a welcome reception was given by the Kingdom of Bahrain to all participants. The Minister of the National Oil and Gas Authority, HE Shaikh Mohammed bin Khalifa welcomed the Board Members (BMs), their advisers and observers and thanked the GCF for giving them the opportunity to host the meeting and learn more about climate change. He added that they are committed to maximize Bahrain’s knowledge and resources in pushing for sustainable initiatives and in exploring ways towards economic diversification geared towards transitioning away from fossil fuels to renewable energy. UNFCCC Executive Secretary, Patricia Espinosa was also present during the reception and emphasized in her speech the importance of this meeting’s outcome to the upcoming COP24 in December at Katowice, Poland. She added that when it comes to climate change, finance is not only about money, but more about reducing the suffering of the most vulnerable, and about saving lives.
Day 1 – October 17
Day 1 started with the Minister of the National Oil and Gas Authority, HE Shaikh Mohammed bin Khalifa giving the Board members and participants of the B21 a warm welcome to their country. He reiterated what he said during the welcome reception and added Bahrain’s interest to look at green banking and the development of sustainable national water strategy for their country. It was followed by both co-chairs Paul Oquist of Nicaragua and Lennart Bage of Sweden formally opening the meeting.
Co-chair Lennart Badge called the names of the new members of the Board and their alternates, then proceeds with adoption of the agenda.
Compared to B20, the adoption of the agenda was done quickly, prompting observers at the overflow room to rejoice as if it was a big success to simply adopt an agenda.
It was then followed by presentations of various reports and decision texts presented for Board adoption. Many of the reports were easily adopted like the Report on the Activities of the Secretariat, Reports from Board committees, panels and groups and Co-chairs’ reports, including the implementation of 2018 workplan, were easily adopted.
Interventions from Board Members started coming when Decisions taken in between meetings (Information document) was presented. Many Board Members noted the unresolved decision items like the selection of executive director and interim trustee, and hoped they will decide on these in Bahrain. Steps to resolve funding proposals that reached the lapsed period because certain conditions were not satisfied within the timeframe set, were repeatedly raised by some Board Members. These funding proposals are FP020 Sustainable Energy Facility for the Eastern Caribbean and FP030 Catalyzing Private Investment in Sustainable Energy in Argentina – Part 1, both from the Inter-American Development Bank. BM from UK reminded the board that in instances where there are objections to decisions about funding proposals, rules of procedure states that it must be brought back to the Board for deliberation. BM from Cuba, Uruguay and Egypt appealed to revisit the decision and apply an extension for completion of the conditions set for the project. They feel that the projects deserved GCF support and that the delay caused by the AE should not deny the project recipients the chance to receive the finance needed.
BM from South Africa reminded the Board that these problems are fruits of the seeds sown in B11 in Zambia. He said the Board has approved projects hastily, setting a number of conditions just to approve, like putting a band-aid to a broken hip. He then advised the Board to find the proper solutions and stick to the decisions made, including the possible consequences.
When the agenda item on Outcome of co-chairs consultations: guidelines on decisions without a board meeting came up, where the Board has to determine in which cases decisions without a Board Meeting may be requested, many felt strongly about approving paragraphs 4-6:
4. Matters relating to the implementation of approved funding proposals, such as extensions of time or waiver of conditions, where a decision is required to prevent undue delay in the commencement or continuation of the implementation of the relevant funded activity;
5. Approval of funding proposals submitted under the simplified approval process, including its pilot scheme approved by decision B.18/06;
6. Approval of other funding proposals that have (i) a maximum value of USD 50 million; (ii) a maximum GCF contribution of no more than USD 10 million, (iii) low to no environmental and social risk, except where the Secretariat considers it would not be appropriate in the light of other characteristics of such funding proposal;
Many BMs raised the need to strengthen information disclosure and transparency for decisions made about these matters. Some requested the secretariat to provide both a detailed information and a summarized version highlighting the key decisions. Such documents should be made available not only to the Board but to the public. BM from US recognized the valuable role CSOs make in examining funding proposals, therefore he proposed the CSOs to get involved with commenting when the Board decides to approve projects in between meetings.
BM from Cuba had several additions to the document, one of which is having constituency consultations in drafting intersessional decisions. BM from India recognized the need to streamline and simplify various processes, but she emphasized that matters related to financial resources should never be taken intersessionally and must only be decided during Board Meetings.
In our CSO intervention delivered by Liane Schalatek, active CSO observer from the developed countries, we raised our plea that decisions between meetings must only be limited to procedural matters. We also raised the need for transparency throughout the whole process and asked the Board to provide active observers copies of the documents in between meetings, which was repeatedly raised but has not been the norm up to now.
Discussions about voting came up when the agenda item on Decision-making in the absence of consensus was on the table. BM from South Africa recalled that in the past when the Board reached no consensus on certain items, voting based on contributions to the GCF was proposed, and he thought this is unacceptable. He added that he will stand firm with this position notwithstanding the fact that some Board Members want him out of the Board. He also reminded the Board that the Governing Instrument clearly says the Board must exhaust all means for it to reach consensus. He also proposed to set guidelines that can help the co-chairs determine appropriate actions in certain situations and that the Board must take into account not only the urgency of the matter, but also the implications, and operational matters related.
Many BMs thought the One Vote, One Board mechanism is a good compromise and referenced other funds that have used the same mechanism to resolve non-consensus. Many feel it is a practical way of getting things done, but some thought it is not the best system. BM from Saudi Arabia suggested that the Board should set procedures like having a stand-alone committee, and not resort to voting. He reminded the Board that as BMs, they are there not only to represent their countries, but also their country constituency (developing and developed country) so the option of voting would be more difficult.
In our CSO Intervention, delivered by Julius Ng’oma, alternate active observer from developing countries, we raised the concerns of some BMs and reiterated that the option of having one Board member having an effective veto, will not serve the interests of the Fund or its stakeholders. This may eventually lead to delays in projects and policies. We also reiterated that the voting should NOT be based on the level of contributions made to the GCF and urged the Board to agree on a decision in Bahrain as this has been brought up several times in previous Board Meetings.
For both agenda items, the co-chairs took note of all the inputs and tasked some Board Members to work with secretariat to reformulate the decision texts, and present again for adoption in the next days.
The Board Members also went into two executive sessions to discuss the Status of Accreditation Master Agreements and a session requested by the Ethics and Audit Committee.
Since CSOs are not allowed to observe at these closed-door sessions, we used the time to meet to work.
During the first Executive Session, Lidy Nacpil, Active Observer for Southern CSOs convened the first of a series of caucuses of Southern CSO Observers in Manama to discuss issues at hand and ways of working in the next Board Meetings. At the second Executive Session, CSO observers worked on drafting intervention points on some of the agenda items. We also circulated for sign-ons the letter issued by our Indonesian colleagues urging the Board to not approve FP083 World Bank Geothermal Project, which is up for deliberation at this Board Meeting.
Day 1 ended promptly at past 6 in the evening, Manama time.