There have been occasions when I felt the need to express certain concerns in these pages about the direction the GCF heading in (e.g. in The Green Climate Fund at the Cross Roads: Bog standard or ground-breaking?). However, at its recent eighth meeting in Bridgetown, Barbados, the GCF Board has taken a significant step in what I firmly believe the right direction by espousing the idea of a Pilot Phase for Enhanced Direct Access (EDA).
The importance of this decision lies, in a first instance, in the Board ceasing to merely consider “additional modalities that further enhance direct access, including through funding entities with a view to enhancing country ownership of projects and programmes” (as mandated in paragraph 47 of the GCF Governing Instrument), thus ushering in the operationalization of EDA as an access modality of the GCF.
EDA, in the sense used in this paragraph, refers to the devolution of specific activity approval decisions to recipient country funding entities, such as the growing number of climate funds established by developing countries as funding instruments for national climate change strategies (by and large quite independently of considerations regarding access to GCF funding).
The idea of EDA in this sense is by no means new, neither for development nor climate finance. Indeed, the Background Paper by the GCF Secretariat lists three examples that illustrate the considerable variety of ways in which the idea can and has been implemented already:
- the Indonesian Kecamatan Development Programme specialized in making block grants for local governments at the district (kecamatan) level conducting a competition for funds among villages and overseeing disbursements,
- Quantity Performance-based models such as the Norwegian the Norwegian International Forest Climate Initiative with the Brazilian Amazon Fund and the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund as funding entities, and
- the South African Small Grants Facility designed to directly support to vulnerable groups in defining and implementing effective adaptation strategies and making a direct contribution to climate-resilient development, which was approved by the Adaptation Fund Board just a few days before the Barbados meeting.
However, the decision of the GCF Board to prepare for the launch of an EDA Pilot Phase by the beginning of 2015 will move the idea centre stage in the global effort to support developing countries in their efforts to combat climate change and its adverse effects at scale. This is why, in years to come, the Barbados meeting may well be judged to have been an historic event.