TWN Info Service on Climate Change (Jul15/05)
16 July 2015
Third World Network  

Push for emphasis on country ownership in GCF process

New Delhi, 16 July (Indrajit Bose) — Developing country Board members of the Green Climate Fund (GCF), pushed for a decision on country ownership, emphasising its importance in the GCF process, at the recently concluded meeting, held in Songdo, South Korea, from 6-9 July.

The decision came at the final hours of the meeting sometime morning of 10 July, after much deliberation on whether there should be a decision at all on country ownership at the meeting.

On 8 July, the GCF Secretariat presented to the Board a document which was for information only on ‘country ownership’ and said its “purpose was to enable the Board to take stock of decisions related to country ownership, the role of the national designated authorities (NDAs) or focal points (FP), and multi-stakeholder engagement in order to consider ways in which it (the Board) can effectively monitor the implementation of these decisions, and areas where further work can be undertaken to help to strengthen country ownership”.

However, developing country Board members led by Ecuador, wanted a decision on country ownership at the meeting primarily to strengthen the role of the NDAs and FPs in the process, as there were concerns that the notion of country-ownership was being side-lined or limited.

In his proposal Angel Valverde (Ecuador) outlined the work of the Secretariat in relation to the NDAs. But some developed country Board members objected to a decision on country owership and said that a decision was not required. Developing country Board members had a lot of explaining to do about the importance of country ownership (see highlights of exchanges below) and the need for a decision.

A small group to draft the decision was formed on the suggestion of the Board Co-chair, Gabriel Quijandria (Peru), and after further discussions, a decision was eventually adopted.

The decision adopted reads as follows:
• The Board recognized “the importance of enhancing country ownership, country drivenness and the role NDAs/FP can play in this regard” and affirmed “that all efforts should be undertaken to:
I. Strengthen the key role of NDAs/FPs in the formulation of country program/project pipelines, the consideration of implementation partners, and financial planning, and enhance capacity, including through the programme on readiness and preparatory support,
II. Strengthen the role of NDAs/FPs in monitoring and providing feedback regarding the impact of GCF oeprations within countries in terms of the degree to which the Fund’s initiatives add value to national development priorities, building institutional capacity, and promoting a paradigm shift towards low carbon and climate resilient development,
III. Promote a central and leading role of NDAs/FPs in the coordination of the Fund’s engagements within countries while highlighting the importance of the differentiation of roles between the Secretariat, Accredited Entities and NDA’s/FPs in relation to country programming.”
• The decision also “Requests the Secretariat to prepare a Proposal of Guidelines and drawing from learning experiences and best practices across NDAs/FPs to address the aspects outlined above for consideration of the Board at its twelfth meeting;”
• It “recognizes that NDAs or focal points should facilitate country coordination and engagement with representatives of relevant stakeholders such as private sector, adademia and civil society organizations and women’s organizations, taking into account the best practice options adopted by the Board in decision B.08/10 and supported as needed by the GCF Secretariat;” and
• “Reaffirms in accordance with decision B.08/11 (from the 8th Board meeting), the readiness and preparatory support program as a mechanism to enhance country ownership.”

Highlights of exchanges that took place
Presenting his proposal, Angel Valverde (Ecuador) said he would like the following elements captured in a decision:

  • “Requests the Secretariat, prior to making any visits to a country, to formally announce, with reasonable time in advance, such visit via a letter sent to the NDAs/FPs of the respective country where the visit would be undertaken, and to coordinate the planning of such visit with the respective NDAs/FPs, where appropriate”.
  • “Requests the Secretariat to prepare template for country programmes, which would include a section to list the projects and activities that would be submitted for funding within the country programmes”.
  • “Requests the Secretariat to inform the NDA/FP of any expressions of interests, formal or informal concept notes or proposal summaries, or any other communications related to potential projects and programs in the country that the Secretariat receives from third parties/interested accredited entities, and to redirect these to the NDA/FP for its information, input and involvement in the process”.
  •  “Requests the Secretariat to gather lessons learned on the project approval process and complement, by mid 2016, the existing framework with deadlines and specific estimates of the time required to complete the Fund's project cycle, to provide clarity to NDAs and implementing entities, and to inform them and the Board when it has done so.”
  • “Requests the Secretariat to create a specific funding envelope for translations and similar expenses different from the readiness program”.

Zaheer Fakir (South Africa) said that the role the NDA is playing (presently) appears to be limited. NDAs/FPs need to be at the heart of the process to drive country ownership. He added that the NDA should be anchored in the GCF so that they are the agents of change. For this, there needs to be guidelines so that the NDAs can assume that role, he stressed further. The NDA is involved in a number of processes starting from giving no objection to country pipeline development (re: funding proposals) and formulation of financial packages and models. He also called for a greater role of the NDA to be reflected in the document. “If we want the Fund to be transformational, we need to be driving the change,” said Fakir, adding that “we cannot just rely on the monitoring of an implementing entity”.

Responding to Valverde’s proposal, Leonardo Martinez-Diaz (United States) said that the proposed list of added activities seemed to call for a very high level of work and these added measures are not needed. 

Fakir clarified that it is an important issue that empowers countries and that Ecuador’s proposals must be looked at.

Martinez-Diaz said that he had not heard a compelling argument for a decision on country-ownership. “We could use this time discuss other matters,” he said, drawing a sharp retort from Omar El-Arini (Egypt) who disagreed with this view.

Ingrid-Gabriela Hoven (Germany) said the issues raised by Valverde pertain more to the relationship between the NDA and the Secretariat and wondered if this called for a Board decision.

Fakir responded that country ownership could not be pushed around. “What we want to do is to empower countries. We are serious about promoting country ownership and it is important for us to address the issue,” said Fakir.

Responding to comments, Valverde said country ownership is one of those crucial aspects where the Board needs to have continuous oversight and needs to assure that there is constant learning and improvement. He made three additional points—on the involvement of NDAs in core activities, on the role of NDAs in monitoring and how that could inform the Board from a strategic perspective, and on communication with the Secretariat and difference in roles with the accredited entities. He said the proposal on guidelines could be given to NDAs for their involvement in aspects such as country pipeline, selection of implementing partners and formulation of financing models. He also said that the proposal for developing a monitoring framework could be undertaken by the NDA to provide the Board with direct feedback on the impact of the Fund’s activities and the Fund’s contribution. Valverde also called for guidelines for difference in roles and interaction between the Secretariat, the accredited entities and the NDAs.

Following these discussions, the Board came back to discussing ‘country ownership on 9 July, where a draft decision was presented.

Presenting the decision, Valverde stressed the importance of country ownership and for the Fund to have high impact vis-à-vis the needs of developing countries. He also said that the active role of the NDA is a key element in assuring efficiency of operations, which was a gap and which the decision needs to address. Mariana Inés Micozzi (Argentina) supported Valverde.

Andrea Ledward (UK) responded that the implication of the decision was not clear. Martinez-Diaz said the decision was too general. Arnaud Buisse (France) also expressed his inablity to understand the decision. Ludovica Soderini (Italy) expressed concerns about bureaucratising the process.

Fakir said there is need to ensure how to empower the NDAs. “Through country ownership and country drivenness, we will be enhancing results on the ground. The idea of the decision is to ensure that NDAs are not merely rubber stamps and they are at the heart of the process. We also want to ensure that as an NDA, they have oversight responsibility,” said Fakir and added that a little bit of wordsmithing should help resolve the concerns. 

Valverde intervened to further clarify the reasoning behind the proposed decision. “We have different experiences of countries when it comes to national entities. There are potential entities, international agencies etc. The feeling is in many of the cases the national entities or the NDAs are skipped,” said Valverde.

“When we talk about such efforts, we are talking about capacity in a systematic way. We are thinking in a systematic structure how to conduct things in relation to the GCF. That is the spirit of this draft. When we talk of financing models, it sounds weird. It should be related to readiness. For better coordination therefore, we need to have guidelines. That is the whole spirit of this,” said Valverde. “We don’t want to make the process bureaucratic. But coordination with the national entities needs to be done,” said Valverde.

Following these interventions, the decision was adopted.