The Green Climate Fund (GCF) takes very seriously allegations of inappropriate behaviour made in a Financial Times newspaper article published on 26 August. The GCF’s Secretariat strongly refutes claims of systematic staffing problems affecting GCF’s mission to empower developing countries in taking climate action. Upon receiving a series of questions from the Financial Times - including allegation of abuse of power, racism, and inappropriate relationships attributed to unidentified current or former GCF employees - the GCF Secretariat provided detailed information to address the allegations in advance of the article’s publication.
GCF is a young organization and its grievance architecture has been developing over time. The first grievance mechanism to become operational was the Independent Integrity Unit (IIU), which is mandated to investigate allegations of fraud, corruption, misconduct, and other prohibited practices. It reports directly to the GCF Board, and not the Executive Director; a reflection of the seriousness GCF takes in protecting its staff and organisational partners from inappropriate behaviour.
Initially, IIU served by default as the conduit for any staff complaints. As a result, 15 complaints of staff misconduct were received by the IIU in 2018 and 24 complaints of staff misconduct in 2019. All complaints made to the IIU and/or to other functionaries at the GCF in authority have been or are being thoroughly and independently investigated. As communicated to the Financial Times, GCF’s Independent Integrity Unit (IIU) has found a single substantiated complaint relating to staff misconduct respectively for each year in 2018 and 2019.
A key GCF objective is to further develop its grievance mechanisms to enable staff to raise and resolve concerns safely. GCF Executive Director, Yannick Glemarec stated, “We have zero tolerance for all forms of discrimination and abuse. As the organization matures, we are continually strengthening all our prevention, reporting and investigation mechanisms, and will continue to do so”.
The ability to address promptly and appropriately staff and organisational disputes that require management action rather than independent investigation has substantially improved with the appointment of an Ethics Officer and the establishment of an Administrative Review and Appeals Procedures and an appeals committee last year.
In addition to these efforts, GCF is working to improve its work environment by taking moves to enhance staff wellbeing and strengthen a culture of respect where all are safe from fear of abuse and discrimination. This included developing a code of conduct for managers and establishing culture circles to define corporate values last year. This year saw the organization of a series of training on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse and Sexual Harassment (SEAH), the development of an inclusive ‘People’s Plan’ along with the on-going development of an onboarding programme which emphasises corporate values.
The Financial Times article also referred to the removal and archiving of certain emails sent to all staff. This decision was made in response to unproven accusations against staff members contained within such emails. In accordance with GCF’s Policy on the Protection of Whistleblowers and Witnesses, any such allegations must be directly reported to the IIU in order to ensure the confidentiality and integrity of any subsequent investigation, as well as to safeguard the due process rights of persons involved in any investigations. This action was discussed with all staff, who were invited to contribute to the finalization of GCF policy on usage of professional emails.
The members of GCF’s diverse workforce appreciate the challenges before them in fulfilling GCF’s vital role as the bridge uniting developed and developing counties’ climate action. Their everyday work is helping to determine whether we are entering a tipping or turning point in avoiding a dangerously hot future. GCF staff members’ professionalism and passion to combat climate change was reflected in the GCF Board’s approval during its recent 26th meeting of all 15 funding proposals submitted by the Secretariat with USD 878.8 million in GCF financing. This raised GCF’s total portfolio to USD 6.2 billion and added Afghanistan and Sudan to the list of over 100 developing countries receiving GCF’s financial support.