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‘The Board is united in our commitment to meet our USD 2.5 billion target.’

Following the Board’s informal dialogue in Cape Town this week, the new GCF Co-Chairs, Zaheer Fakir and Ewen McDonald, sat down together to discuss the Board’s plans for 2016. They reflected upon the informal meeting, as well as how the Fund can reach its aspirations for the year.

Published: 5 February 2016
The Board has set an aspirational target to invest USD 2.5 billion during 2016. Is the Fund on track to achieve this goal?

Zaheer Fakir: In short: yes! What has emerged from our meeting here in Cape Town is that the Board is united in our commitment to meet our USD 2.5 billion target, not just in terms of scale, but also by delivering innovative and high-impact projects. The Fund needs to set the benchmark for what we want to deliver in the future. Flowing from the meeting here in Cape Town, with everybody’s commitment to moving the GCF Board forward in an efficient manner, I am confident that we can reach the USD 2.5 billion target.

Ewen McDonald: Yes, I think we are on target to meet our aspiration. The informal dialogue has been very important in helping the Board talk about the forward plan to achieve what we need in 2016. People have left the meeting in high spirits and are looking forward to the work ahead. We all appreciate the privileged position that we have as Board members in terms of what this Fund can do and the impact it will have on people’s lives in the future.

How would you describe the dynamics at this meeting?

McDonald: It was extremely positive. Board members came with a very positive attitude and worked together in an excellent spirit. We are quite diverse as a group and we recognise the need to listen to what others are saying. By working collectively, we can achieve much more than we could on our own. We have been able to have conversations here around an extremely important document—the Strategic Plan. The work that has been done on the Strategic Plan through the Ad Hoc group and Indaba-style discussions is a great reflection of the commitment of Board members.

Fakir: It’s about listening and understanding, and giving everybody a platform where their voice can be heard. This is not something that can be done in a formal Board environment. We are not really far off each other—we all want the same thing, we may have different ideas as to how to get there, but the outcome is the same.

Looking ahead, what are your expectations for the next formal Board meeting in March?

McDonald: One of the important aspects of this meeting is the work we have done on the draft Work Plan, which will help us meet our aspirations by ensuring we have a series of well-planned Board meetings focused on the decisions that we have to take. The work that has been done on the Strategic Plan is also extremely important for our planning—I am confident that 2016 will be very successful for the Green Climate Fund.

Fakir: We have been laying the foundations so that we can deliver. We have shown that we can operate together as an effective Board, and we are putting in place the enabling environment that we need. The building blocks are there, and I am extremely optimistic that we can work as one team – Board, Secretariat, observers and implementing entities – all coalescing around a common vision.
We want to take the momentum from Paris and ramp it up, take that positive mood and translate the vision into action.

What about the plan for the rest of 2016?

McDonald: We have a plan for 2016 to provide us with the best opportunity to meet our aspiration for the Fund—transformative, high-impact, and 2.5 billion in commitments. To enable that to occur, we first need to address some of the policy issues that have emerged. At our next full Board meeting we will address those essential policy decisions and that will then enable us to deal with the pipeline of projects.

Fakir: The decisions we will take at the next Board meeting will help us to provide clarity and transparency to our stakeholders about how to engage with the Fund. In turn, that will allow them to develop proposals which meet our aspirations. Getting the policies in place is the responsible, professional thing for the Board to do next.

Can you outline how the Fund is approaching the need for quality and scale in project proposals?

Fakir: GCF is different from other Funds, and that means we need to think laterally about things like scale and impact. We need to be responsive, for example, to large project proposals from high-capacity countries, and, at the same time, to the needs of small Pacific islands. The kinds of instruments and policies that we use must have the flexibility to deal with both situations. Scale is not only about the figures, about 100-million-dollars-plus projects—it is also about being a catalyst and being transformative. 

McDonald: Quality projects are transformative, high impact, and scalable—but they will be different for different countries. It is important that we recognise the different levels of capacity between countries, so that we can provide support across the board. There is an obligation of the Board and the Secretariat and Accredited Entities to make the process as efficient as possible, working together.

Finally, what about working with other Funds?

Fakir: Although we are a different kind of Fund, we also need to explore complementarity with others. Can you imagine the collective impact of GCF working together with other climate funds, rather than simply acting individually? So we have already been having discussions with other funds about how we can collaborate, and learn lessons based on each other’s experience.

McDonald: It is extremely important that climate finance actors should be complementing, rather than duplicating the roles of others. In terms of the transformative nature of the GCF, we need to be very clear about where we fit into the climate finance architecture. We are a learning organisation and we need to keep that learning mentality and adjust to changes.

Thank you gentlemen.