How the GCF and EIF operate

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Absalom Shigwedha

At the 16th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) held in the Mexican city of Cancun in 2010, a global fund for addressing climate change adaptation and mitigation was established.

But what really is the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and how important is it to countries like Namibia, that are set to be hard hit by the adverse impacts of climate change, due to their arid and semi-arid environment and their over-dependence on rain-fed agriculture? Meanwhile, Namibia has an Environmental Investment Fund (EIF) in place. What is the mandate of the EIF and what does it mean for it to be an accredited entity to the GCF? This article attempts to provide a clear understanding of the two funds.

The GCF is an operating entity of the financial mechanism of the UNFCCC and the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change, which is dedicated to supporting global efforts to respond to the challenge of climate change. The GCF helps developing countries limit or reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change. It seeks to promote a paradigm shift to emission and climate-resilient development, taking into account the needs of developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change.

Guided by the principles and provisions of the UNFCCC, the GCF has an important role in serving the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and supporting the goals of keeping average global temperature rise well below 2 degrees Celsius.

The GCF aims for a 50:50 balance between mitigation and adaptation over time and also aims for a floor of 50 percent of the adaptation allocation for particularly vulnerable countries, including least developed countries, small island developing states and African countries.

A 24-member board, comprising equally of developed and developing countries administer the Governing Council and the board makes decisions based on consensus among all board members. The GCF is accountable to and functions under the guidance of the UNFCCC Conference of Parties, whose conference is held annually. The Governing Council of the GCF was adopted at the 17th Conference of Parties to the UNFCCC, held in Durban (South Africa) in 2011 and is first board meeting was held in 2012. The GCF headquarters in Songdo (Republic of Korea) and its executive director is Howard Bamsey, who hails from Australia.

As of last year, the GCF had a portfolio topping US$2.65 billon and 59 accredited entities, of which Namibia’s Environmental Investment Fund is one.

What this meant is that the EIF has been given the right by the GCF to apply for funding for climate change and adaptation from it on behalf of the Namibian government. EIF has also sourced some funding from GCF and has submitted more funding proposals to the fund. As one of the driest countries south of the Sahara, climate change is set to negatively impact Namibia’s very important economic sectors such as agriculture, its biodiversity and marine life.

According to the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, climate change will accelerate dry spells, leading to water stress, conflicts and a reduction in agricultural production.

EIF, therefore, deserves to be commended for having met the tough criteria as an entity to be accredited to GCF, as this would help the country to source the necessary funding from it to address climate change. EIF was established by an Act of Parliament in 2001, but only began operations in 2011.

Its mandate is to promote the sustainable economic development of Namibia through investment in and promotion of activities and projects that protect and maintain the natural resources for the benefit of all Namibians.

*Absalom Shigwedha is a Namibian award-winning environmental journalist.