The Executive Director of the Green Climate Fund, Héla Cheikhrouhou, today met with over 80 ambassadors and diplomats at an information meeting in Seoul, hosted by the French ambassador to the Republic of Korea, H.E. Fabien Penone.
The meeting was convened to elaborate the Fund’s role, and how it can support countries’ climate change plans by investing in mitigation and adaptation projects.
Ambassador Fabien Penone welcomed the dignitaries and Ms. Cheikhrouhou to the French embassy, with the briefing taking place only days before the start of the climate change conference in Paris. The meeting started with a moment of reflection dedicated to the victims of the Paris terrorist attacks.
H.E. Penone called for the adoption of a universal climate agreement in Paris to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius. He stressed the need for a balance between actions on mitigation and adaptation, and reiterated the centrality of climate finance.
"The financial aspect is absolutely central to guarantee the success and the efficiency of these commitments,” he stated. "Our goal is to mobilize 100 billion dollars a year from 2020. Financing solutions should help developing countries in their transition towards low-emission and resilient economies before and after 2020,” he explained.
In her remarks, Ms. Cheikhrouhou recalled the mitigation and adaptation plans set out by 160 governments within their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) in advance of the Paris Conference of the Parties (COP 21). She emphasized the Fund’s role in helping developing countries implement those INDCs.
In order to realize this aim, Ms. Cheikhrouhou called on the ambassadors of developing countries to encourage their governments to bring forward projects that match the paradigm-shifting ambition of the Fund.
“We have an ambitious mandate – to drive a real paradigm shift towards a low-emission, climate-resilient future. And to realize this, we need to be game changers. We need ambitious, high-quality projects that are capable of driving the change we need,” she said.
Ms. Cheikhrouhou heralded the Fund’s progress in approving its first eight investment decisions at its Board meeting earlier this month. The Board approved funding of USD 168 million; and these initial projects and programmes will lead to overall investments of up to USD 1.3 billion. The projects cover both mitigation and adaptation in Africa, Asia-Pacific, and Latin America and the Caribbean. The project approvals mark the final stage in the transition of the Fund to full operational status.
H.E. Mamadou Ndiaye, ambassador of Senegal, presented one of the first projects approved by the Fund, the restoration of salinized lands in a coastal region of Senegal threatened by salt water encroachment caused by rising sea levels and increasing droughts.
Reflecting on the project grant, he paid personal tribute to the work of the GCF Executive Director and the Secretariat and stated: “The example of Senegal must be seen as a clear indication that African countries are well aware of the opportunities provided by GCF and they know that this mechanism can be utilized to appropriately address the challenges related to climate change. I am sure that this decision will give more confidence and hope to the many other African and developing nations which have already started their readiness process,” he said.
H.E. Filimone Kau, ambassador of Fiji, introduced another early GCF-funded project targeting infrastructure improvements for sustainable water management in the Suva City area of Fiji. Climate change threatens the availability of safe water supply and sanitation for the inhabitants of this urban region of a vulnerable Small Island Developing State (SIDS).
H.E. Jay-chul Choi, Climate Ambassador at Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, also spoke at the meeting, outlining his country’s policy on climate change and its commitment to climate finance as evidenced by the hosting of GCF’s headquarters in the Republic of Korea.