Jean-Yves Pirot & Sébastien Delahaye
As an accredited entity to GCF, what can IUCN bring to the Fund?IUCN has an established global presence with over 50 offices worldwide, and some of our offices have been operating an IUCN country programme for three decades. The relationships IUCN have forged enable us to bring to GCF a network that provides many entry points for cooperation, as well as a portfolio of projects that build on our track record in countries. For example, IUCN has been involved in ecosystem restoration for some 30 years and has a significant level of expertise in this area. Therefore, our plans with GCF will harness IUCN’s long experience and reputation as a trusted neutral partner and convener of diverse stakeholders.
Climate change is a relatively new focus area for IUCN. How are you integrating this throughout your work?Every four years we have a new organizational programme to consider changes in thinking and global developments. A big shift happened in 2004 after the Indian Ocean tsunami where the impacts of sea level rise and the depletion of coastal ecosystems were made abundantly clear. Afterwards, all of IUCN’s programmes were required to take climate change into action. Also, as part of our accreditation to GCF, IUCN carried out a global analysis of projects and programmes executed to date to capture what has been done in the fields of adaptation and mitigation. The result of this exercise demonstrated that 50 percent of IUCN’s portfolio has a climate change component and is already in line or close to what GCF aims to achieve.
How do you see the GCF and IUCN partnership evolving?Already at the accreditation phase, we brainstormed to come up with priorities to inform our programme for GCF. This led to a focus on four main themes: forest and landscape restoration; coastal resilience and mangrove management; drylands management; and river and watershed management. As these themes are linked to the current global IUCN work programme, our focus with GCF is to build on what we are doing well and bring in a stronger, more explicit climate change component. For instance, take IUCN’s initiatives addressing forest and landscape restoration. From a climate action perspective, the benefits are two-fold: for mitigation, it will enhance carbon sequestration capacity, and for climate adaptation, communities will be better placed to cope through improved land management and protection.
Can you share some of the projects that you would like to bring to GCF?A balanced portfolio both in terms of the thematic areas already mentioned and the regions where we are working are important considerations for IUCN. Our priority is to focus on a few good projects and build our capacity with the Fund in a gradual manner. One project we are excited about is with the Kenyan government to develop an arid lands programme in the north of the country to support pastoralists in adapting to the effects of climate change. Looking further ahead, we would like to develop at the request of countries some projects and programmes with a regional perspective addressing coastal and mangrove management. Such an approach would build on existing programmes IUCN has underway in southeast Asia, west Africa and the Pacific.
What advice would you give to other organizations seeking accreditation?Environmental and Social Safeguards (ESS) is one of the most important and challenging parts of GCF’s accreditation process. Institutions should fully understand the process and, ideally, have an ESS system already in place. Fortunately, IUCN has an ESS system thanks to its prior accreditation to the Global Environment Facility (GEF). After accreditation, institutions should immediately start engaging with GCF National Designated Authorities (NDA). They should also avoid taking on too much in the beginning. Staying focused is important.