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The Green Climate Fund (GCF) is an independent multilateral climate fund established by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at the end of 2011. It aims to make an ambitious contribution to attaining the climate mitigation and adaptation goals of the international community.

Over time it is expected to become the main multilateral financing mechanism to support climate action in developing countries.

The Green Climate Fund’s vision is to support a paradigm shift to low-emission and climate-resilient development relative to other multilateral funds. Components for that paradigm shift include:

  • Achieving balanced allocation between mitigation and adaptation activities and a particular focus on supporting those developing countries particularly vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change, including Least Developed Countries, Small Island Developing States and African States;
  • Ensuring full country-ownership through its operational modalities and by providing adequate support to build the required country capacity;
  • Ensuring transparent and inclusive procedures with respect to all GCF-related activities; and
  • A governing Board of 24 members – equally drawn from developed and developing countries and selected with the aim of gender-balanced membership – making decisions on a consensus basis.

GCF’s monetary goal is to mobilize $100m per year by 2020. As of April 2016, $10.2 billion in pledges have been raised from 42 nations, including 9 from the developing world. The US pledge of $3b over 4 years is the largest, and requires approval from Congress. The Administration requested $500m for FY2016, and $750m for FY2017. In March 2016, the State Department paid the first U.S. installment of $500 million to the GCF.

The faith community has been pivotal in ensuring Congressional approval for the FY2016 request. Last month 121 faith entities – including from major faith traditions and organizations such as the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Jewish Council of Public Affairs, and major Protestant faiths – sent a letter to Congress in support of GCF. People of faith from across the nation are the source of our advocacy strength. We call upon you to help us ensure that the Congress honor the US pledge to the global community, in FY2017 and beyond.

Why is the GCF important to the faith community?

Multi-lateral development financing has far too often harmed, rather than helped the poorest and most vulnerable communities around the world. More than 3 million people were physically or economically displaced by nearly 1,000 World Bank-financed projects between 2004 and 2013 according to a massive project by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. Only 1/6th (or 16%) of climate finance in 2013-2014 was dedicated to adaptation, according to a report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

GCF aspires, as described in the previous section, to be a paradigm shift away from these practices in ways resonant with the faith community. GCF’s stated focus is on the most vulnerable nations and communities, with a balance of funding dedicated to adaptation, high levels of country and community project design and management, and high levels of transparency from the board room to the project level.

This approach increases the possibility of projects to build the adaptive capacity of small scale farmers and fishers who provide sustenance for their communities; provide early warning systems and infrastructures for communities threatened by severe weather events; and, preserve the integrity of bio-diverse ecosystems which indigenous peoples depend upon and maintain. In doing so, economic, ecological, political and national security is increased to the benefit of all peoples. Should this be a major GCF focus, the approach reflects humanity’s common moral obligation to serve the most vulnerable peoples among us who’ve contributed least to the cause – climate disruption - of the harms which befall them.

What GCF projects have been funded thus far?

In November 2015, GCF approved eight projects, seven of which are climate adaptation projects which directly benefit vulnerable peoples and communities. Three of the projects, between $24-40m each, directly benefit nearly half a million people: 105,000 people in the Maldives impacted by climate-change induced water shortages will have greater access to drinking water; 134,000 people in Bangladesh will directly benefit from climate resilient infrastructure planning and implementation; and a third of the Fiji’s population of 860,000 people will have increased access to safe drinking water and other health benefits due to climate resilient water infrastructure. The Fund seeks to dispense $2.5b in funding for projects in 2016.

How else is the faith community involved in the GCF?

In addition to our advocacy before Congress to support the US pledge, the faith community is becoming involved in efforts to ensure that GCF manifests the paradigm shift it declares. GCF is not yet fully operational: many of their policies are still in their formative phases, such as development of their own environmental and social safeguards. GCF is already moving forward with a promising gender policy and action plan. Many challenges, competing interests, and opportunities are presently before it. The faith community is in dialogue with the US representatives on the GCF board and the civil society observers, to strive for “angels in the details.”

What can I do to support the GCF?

  • Email you members of Congress and urge them to support the Green Climate Fund.
  • Write a letter to the editor in your local newspaper urging your members of Congress to support the GCF.
Jose Aguto

Jose Aguto

Former Legislative Secretary, Sustainable Energy and Environment

Jose Aguto advocated for national policies supporting the sustainable use and management of our Earth’s resources and ecosystems so that all may thrive. He lead the Sustainable Energy and Environment Program, which leads interfaith, non-partisan, grassroots and multi-sectoral efforts on climate disruption to promote bipartisan dialogue and solutions in Congress. It also seeks to facilitate stronger relationships and collaboration across different sectors of the climate movement.