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GCF side event asks ‘what makes a good project?’

A side event at COP 21 hosted by the Green Climate Fund on 2 December brought together over 500 participants for a discussion on how to create good low-emission and climate-resilient projects.

The meeting focused on how the Fund identifies and prioritizes investment opportunities, and set out the criteria the Board uses in making its funding decisions. The meeting was aimed at assisting National Designated Authorities (NDAs) and Accredited Entities (AEs) to put together ambitious projects that will allow the Fund to realize its mandate of supporting low-emission and climate-resilient development.

The event included contributions from several developing countries that have had projects approved by the Fund’s Board in its first round of investment decisions last month.

Henrik Harboe, outgoing Co-Chair of the Board, introduced the session, outlining how the Board has developed criteria to prioritize investment decisions, so that the Fund can match its “paradigm-shifting” level of ambition.

The Fund has identified key investment priorities and results areas, as detailed in the Fund’s publication Elements 02.

Mr. Harboe welcomed the event as an opportunity for the Fund to receive direct feedback from developing countries, based on their early experiences of putting together project proposals for GCF’s consideration. He called upon developing countries to “think big for the future” and bring ambitious projects to the Fund, noting the Board’s aim to scale up the Fund’s level of investment during the coming years.

Alberto Paniagua, CEO of PROFONANPE, the Peruvian Trust Fund for National Parks and Protected Areas, a national implementing entity that enjoys direct access modality to GCF, explained how their recently approved project can help in building the resilience of the Amazon basin wetlands and their communities. Good GCF projects, he suggested, should balance resource conservation with mitigation and adaptation measures. He also stressed the need for experience to be built up so that projects would be more effective.

Vincent Biruta, Rwanda’s Minister of Natural Resources, introduced the KawiSafi programme which will initially operate in Rwanda and Kenya. It will drive off-grid solar power in East Africa by creating a new investment fund – KawiSafi – that will provide equity to clean energy companies with expertise in household solar power. 

The Minister also noted that the Rwandan Ministry of Natural Resources had itself recently been accredited by the Fund, a significant achievement which was the result of putting environment and climate change at the heart of Rwanda’s development. Accreditation had been possible because Rwanda had identified its challenges, set specific goals, and put in place the frameworks.

“We have the responsibility to be efficient, and ensure what we do is cost-effective, viable, and transferable,” Minister Biruta stated.

Ambassador Amjad Abdullah, representing the Minister of Environment and Energy of Maldives, also addressed the packed meeting. He explained how GCF-funded water management projects would provide safe and secure freshwater to people in the northern atolls of the Maldives, building resilience in the face of threats to groundwater as a result of rising sea levels. Reflecting on the particular challenges faced by Small Island Developing States (SIDS), he called for an expedited approval process for SIDS funding proposals to the Fund.

Rudolfo Lacy Tamayo, Mexico’s Vice Minister of Environmental Policy and Planning, welcomed the inclusion of Mexico in the first projects approved by the Fund, through its pilot role within the Latin American and Caribbean energy efficiency green bond programme. The programme will open up the funding of small-scale energy efficiency projects to a wider range of investors by pooling and securitizing them.

Ato Kare Chamwicha Debessa, Ethiopia’s State Minister of Environment and Forest, identified promising mitigation and adaptation actions in his country. He explained how working with GCF can aid Ethiopia to reach its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC). Ethiopia intends to limit its net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2030 to 145 MtCO2e. This would constitute a 255 MtCO2e reduction from the projected “business-as-usual” (BAU) emissions in 2030, or a 64% reduction from the BAU scenario in 2030. 

Looking ahead, it was clear that the Fund would need to scale up its investments, and would be reliant on developing countries to bring ambitious, effective projects to the Fund for Board consideration. These could be brought to the Fund either as concept notes to explore early ideas or as fully-fledged project proposals. 

Thanking the speakers and participants, Hela Cheikhrouhou, GCF’s Executive Director, pointed out that the Fund stands ready to support the implementation of the INDCs and welcomed the opportunity that the meeting had provided to exchange experiences with developing countries to strengthen the Fund’s work in the future.

The next GCF side event titled “Looking Beyond Paris” will take place on Wednesday, 9 December at 18.00h in room 10 (hall 4).