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To GEF or Not to GEF? That is the Question on Adaptation

Posted Dec. 9, 2007 / Posted by: RConnors

One of the big items being discussed in Bali is an Adaptation Fund that would help developing countries deal with problems arising from climate change - severe weather events, droughts, flooding, impacts on food and water, and other development challenges that will be made worse as a result of global warming.

We've heard a little bit about the World Bank's interest in climate change as the next big global business opportunity and the questionable responses that have emerged. Now the Global Environmental Facility, an institution closely associated with the Bank, wants to manage the UN's Adaptation Fund. The Global Environmental Facility has already been involved with adaptation projects under other funds.

A recent analysis by ActionAid USA says the Global Environmental Facility funding "falls short on… democratic governance, civil society participation, sustainable funding, and access for the most vulnerable." It also says "burdensome requirements of increased reporting, additional criteria, and co-financing may deny access to some countries and vulnerable communities."

One of the biggest problems with the Global Environmental Facility is governance, which is based on one dollar, one vote, where larger donor governments get a disproportionate say in where the money goes. Using this governance structure would mean that the United States, which has not given any money to adaptation under the UN climate convention, and would not be contributing under this proposal either, would be very influential in where the money from the fund goes.

Nevertheless, the European Union is pushing hard for the Global Environmental Facility to be the implementing agency for the Adaptation Fund. Some developing countries that would be eligible for the funding are pushing hard for a more independent structure, particularly with regards to governance of the fund. A decision on the governance of the fund should be made before the end of the conference.

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