Poor, small countries most in need of aid from wealthier nations to prepare for climate change are the least able to negotiate the complex accreditation process and first-world accounting standards required to receive it, a critical report says.
The global Green Climate Fund (GCF), announced in 2010, became operational last year with nearly $3 billion in developed country funding. At the end of November, US President Obama responded to mounting pressure  by putting another $3 billion into the pot, to help developing countries develop measures such as early-warning systems for climate-related disasters.
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Yet leaders in many of the most needy countries complain the money is not getting through—or if it is, only after detours through big intermediary organizations such as the Asian Development Bank, whose priorities may differ, The Guardian reports.
“It’s a paradox,” Kiribati President Anote Tong told a London audience in December. “We need [the funds] the most but we don’t have the capacity to get it because we’re not accredited.” Representatives from Tonga, the Comoros, and Grenada—all small, poor, and particularly exposed to ocean rise—told the newspaper they shared Tong’s concerns.
Before a country can gain access to GCF financing, it must name a “national designated authority”—usually an existing government office—which then must “nominate” other agencies, which may be local, regional, public or private institutions, for GCF accreditation.
The lengthy process demands that frequently bootstrapped applicant agencies in poorly resourced countries comply with the GCF’s first-world fiduciary and gender policy standards. These, Lo says, include being able to demonstrate “a track record of delivering mitigation and adaptation projects, a fully functional independent audit committee with plans for the past three years, various procurement committees, relevant guidelines and data on complaints handled in the past two years, examples of conflicts of interest in the past two years, and how they were dealt with.”
NGOs like the World Resources Institute are offering help with the red tape, Lo reports, and the GCF itself offers each country a one-time grant of up to US$300,000 for capacity-building.
But aid activist Harjeet Singh says recipients may simply need to up their game. “Since accountability to donors as well as to poor people is of prime importance, it is unlikely that the fiduciary standards will be relaxed for poor countries,” he said. “Instead of expecting the rules to be simpler, it seems poor countries will have to learn to play the game the hard way.”