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No Consensus on the Design of the Green Climate Fund — Transitional Committee work ends “sub-optimal”

25. October 2011,

The seven months long process to design a new Green Climate Fund (GCF), on which a 40 member Transitional Committee (TC) composed of 25 from representatives from developing and 15 from developed countries had embarked since the end of April, ended in Cape Town, South Africa on October 18th with – in the words of host and co-chairman Trevor Manuel of South Africa — a “sub-optimal” outcome, if not outright failure to complete its mandate, as some countries alleged. Tasked to come up with a draft governing instrument laying out the objectives and mission, the governance structures and core operational modalities of the new global climate fund, the 40 TC members failed to reach a consensus on the proposed text.

While most country members noted that they were unable to agree with some provisions in the draft governing instrument, but were willing to go along with it for the process’ sake, only the United States and Saudi Arabia rejected the document outright in its current form, asked for further negotiations and thus denied the unanimous agreement needed to recommend the text to the Conference of the Parties (COP) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) for adoption.

Instead, COP 17 in Durban will consider and approve a governing instrument that in all likelihood will be opened up for renegotiation – this time among the 194 members of the UNFCCC, instead of the narrower circle of 40 in the Transitional Committee, making consensus and an agreement acceptable to both developed and developing countries even more elusive. With this development, it is almost certain that the new Green Climate Fund will not be able to start its work in early 2012, if at all. And the obstacles for a successful outcome for global climate negotiations at the Durban “African COP” in early December, of which a carefully designed Green Climate Fund was to be a central piece, have become all but daunting. (more…)

Engendering the Green Climate Fund — An Opportunity for Best Practice

18. July 2011,

Gender considerations are currently not systematically addressed in existing climate financing instruments; where gender appears, it is in bits and pieces.  Probably the main reason for that is that gender was not integrated into the design and the operationalization of these financing mechanisms from the very outset – as is the case for the World Bank’s Climate Investment Funds (CIFs) as well as for the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) or the Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF) administered by the Global Environment Facility, and even the Adaptation Fund, which only started project funding last year.  This is where the Green Climate Fund, currently designed by the 40 members of the Transitional Committee, has a chance to do better:  It has an opportunity to be truly transformative and distinguish itself from existing funds by being the first to integrate a gender perspective from the outset. Gender as a cross-cutting issue must guide the discussions about the scope, the governance and operational guidelines of the Green Climate Fund in the Transitional Committee. (more…)

Needed: A True World Bank Development Report on Gender Equality

17. March 2011,

The World Bank’s series of World Development Reports (WDR)is special: conceived as the “flagship publication” of the international development bank, whose self-declared primary mission is poverty reduction, WDRs are meant to showcase the most advanced thinking from within the World Bank, detailing — and suggesting ways to overcome – major political, social and economic obstacles to global development targeted at development policy makers and practitioners. Given this premise, and the world’s acknowledgement of gender equality as critical for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), one might wonder why it has taken the World Bank research staff that long to zoom in on gender equality (the Bank has published 32 WDRs so far since 1978) as the topic for a WDR, with “Gender Equality and Development” now being the official focus of the upcoming WDR 2012 to be released in late 2011.

But if a first 65-page draft outline of the possible several hundred pages long final report is any indication, the World Bank’s staff, despite its stated intention to use the WDR to take a look at the “various dimensions“ of gender equality, will not be able to overcome its own parochial view of women and gender equality.  Missing most prominently: an understanding of development in the context of sustainability, which – in the day and age of persistently high poverty rates, food insecurity, gender inequalities, environmental destruction and climate change globally – should be redefined as low-carbon, climate-resilient, livelihood focused, gender equitable development.  After all, almost 20 years after the Earth Summit, next year a serious reconsideration and refocusing of the concept in the context  of Rio+20 seems unavoidable. (more…)

Gender Coherence at the UN — An Action Plan to Combat Climate Change

29. January 2011,

According to Michelle Bachelet, the former Chilean President and now the Executive Director of UN Women, the UN’s new agency promoting women’s rights and their full participation in global politics, “Women’s strength, women’s industry, women’s wisdom are humankind’s greatest untapped resource.” And in her first 100-day work plan as head of the new entity, she has put one big issue front and center on the agenda: promoting coherence with respect to gender equality and gender awareness within the UN system and its processes.  A good starting point for this endeavour: the UNFCCC and its executive director, Christiana Figueres… (more…)

Bonn Climate Talks: Basically, Busted from the Beginning…

31. July 2010,

On Monday, the climate negotiations go into their next round toward the COP 16 in Cancun, when UNFCCC delegates come together in Bonn.  But the hopes of those expecting a boon in talks for a 2012 post-Kyoto climate regime are likely to be busted.  Already before the meeting starts, it seems certain that the results will be minimal — at best. Turnout of negotiators, in the midst of vacation season, is expected to be low.  Even lower are observers’ expectations: Basically, the only joint approach currently thinkable is one blockading further progress in emissions cuts, in which the industrialized countries and the largest emerging market countries operating as BASIC group (Brazil, India, China and South Africa) seem to be, sadly, in agreement…. 

(more…)

The UN and Women’s Equality: A New Beginning?

9. July 2010,

It has taken the 192 member states of the United Nations a little while (what, four years?) to come to a decision on how to best promote gender equality within the international institution.  The result, agreed upon by General Assembly in a resolution beginning of July, is a newly formed agency within the UN, the UN Entity for Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women.  

Now, ordinarily, one would refer to this UN unit henceforth under its acronym.  Unfortunately, “UNEGEEW”  doesn’t exactly role from the tongue.  Nor does it ring with positive connotations — in US English, “eew” is an utterance of distaste and disgust.  So, with tongue-in-cheek and decidedly unimaginative, the entity will be known in the future as “UN Women” or “ONU Femmes” in French.  One can only hope that this nomen turns out to be a good omen,  even as it downplays the gender dimension of its work…  At least, the new structure provides some clarity and with the expected appointment of the head of the new UN Women agency at the rank of an Under-Secretary-General, directly reporting to the Secretary General and included in all senior-level management circles some much needed authority boost for gender equality issues at the United Nations. (more…)

Can Christiana Catalyze Climate Talks?

18. May 2010,

In the end, the appointment for the new UN climate change chief came faster than expected and not for the person that was widely considered — at least in the press speculations of the last weeks — to be the front runner to replace departing Yvo de Boer who had announced his resignation as UNFCCC Executive Secretary just two months after Copenhagen.  In place of Marthinus van Schalkwyk, the former South African Environment and current Tourism Minister, on whose win most climate bookies had placed their bets, Christiana Figueres (pictured at the center), a 53 year old Costa Rican veteran climate negotiator, was chosen yesterday by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon just a week before climate talks are to resume in Bonn. She certainly is a UNFCCC insider having been involved in UN climate negotiations since 1994 in many functions, including repeatedly as contact groups chair for the CDM or emissions trading. But can Christiana Figueres catalyze climate talks with only six months to go to the next crucial COP in Cancun?  

Personally, I hope she has at least a good fighting change, mainly because of some of her strengths and distinct qualifications …  among which I would certainly count the fact that it is MADAME Figueres not MISTER Figueres assuming leadership of the UNFCCC Secretariat.  (more…)

Slender on Gender AND Transparency

8. May 2010,

Many hopes around the globe are directed at the work of the UN High-Level Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing, which has been working now for a couple of weeks on finding innovative ways to raise the US$ 100 billion per year by 2020 that the Copenhagen Accord had promised long-term for fighting climate change.  God knows, we need urgent actions on adaptation and mitigation, especially in the poorest countries, and the financial commitments and North-South transfers to pay for them.

But for me personally, the 19-member expert panel and its process have already become a big disappointment — even before they present any preliminary findings, as they are scheduled to do  in a few weeks time at the climate talks in Bonn. 

Two main shortcomings are the cause for my dashed hopes: The composition of the 19 member panel is all-male — as if women (at last count still slightly more than 50 percent of the human population) weren’t affected by climate change and thus shouldn’t have views on how to finance actions to combat it.  And the work of the panel is non-transparent, non-participatory and — at least so far —  unaccountable.

Slender on gender AND on transparency — a double-whammy (by the way, obvioulsy related) that for me cuts to the heart of whether anything this group will come up with by Cancun has legitimacy and moral standing.

(more…)

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