The Green Climate Fund (GCF) was first proposed at the fifteenth conference of the parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Copenhagen in 2009 but was described in May 2012 by a participant in the Bonn meetings preparing for the eighteenth conference in Doha as “an empty shell.” The design of the fund appears to reflect many lessons from the experience of other funds, but the broader strategic foundation may be flawed. If the GCF is to offer any prospect of meeting its original objectives (see Section 1) it will be necessary to ensure that (a) the design will allow clear linkage between activities financed by the fund and the expected results of these activities, (b) the governance meets the needs of both developing and developed country partners, (c) there is a flexible approach to funding that reflects varying project requirements and encourages donor contributions, (d) that the Fund is designed to be cost-effective and (e) that the strategic approach does not result in further fragmentation of an already congested climate change aid framework.
This paper presents a brief summary of the proposed fund and its history through to May 2013. Some of the key lessons learned from other Global Funds are summarized and the extent to which the current approach to the GCF reflects these is analyzed. The final section examines what may be required if the GCF is to offer a prospect of meeting the high expectations generated in Copenhagen in 2009.