Why is accreditation necessary to access Green Climate Fund cash?

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The Green Climate Fund (GCF) was launched to support developing countries’ efforts to encourage and promote climate change adaptation and mitigation. However, it has been a disappointment to the intended beneficiaries.

To access GCF money, a project must be processed by “accredited entities”, but, according to the 2023 evaluation, there were only 18 such entities nominated in 13 of the 54 African countries.

This is due to the complicated time- and resource-consuming accreditation, for which GCF has been heavily criticised.

The process is supposed to be completed within six months of submission of all requirements and three months for a fast-track process but it takes 728 days on average and often longer in African nations. This is very disappointing and demoralising.

The African Development Bank (AfDB) had to wait for more than two years to secure fast-track accreditation and over four years for the Accreditation Master Agreement to be effective.

The South African National Biodiversity Institute waited for over four years. These timelines do not include the time required to prepare the accreditation application.

The cumbersome procedures and delays have dampened willingness to work with GCF. In Tunisia, for example, of the 10 entities that applied for accreditation six years ago, only two are in process with none approved. This should be addressed by the board.

Furthermore, most institutions in Africa do not have the necessary expertise in environmental issues or the eight GCF components related to mitigation and adaptation. African countries and institutions should work with UN agencies such as the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, the World Meteorological Organization, Unesco, FAO and UNEP that have a mandate to assist member states in completing the accreditation process.

Alternatively, the GCF regional bureaus should have advisers to work with member states on the accreditation process. This could avoid long delays and minimise frustration on the part of all concerned.

On the other hand, like in Asia, national designated authorities (NDAs) in Africa should carry out a gap assessment to assess the current condition of potential direct access entities (DAE) prior to nominating a national entity for accreditation. The NDAs should also provide ongoing support to enable entities to comply swiftly with the complex GCF accreditation process.

Support can take the form of strategic guidance in choosing the accreditation category, or technical assistance with documentation using the Readiness programme. In addition, NDAs should lobby their governments to have a dedicated unit that deals with GCF issues. Accredited entities, such as the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) in Kenya, have very few officers assigned to handle GCF in addition to their regular work. Consequently, they often lack the time to help others wanting assistance with processing their proposals for GCF approval.

Likewise, according to a consultant involved in the 2020 GCF independent evaluation, although accreditation was expected to build capacity, promote partnerships, reorient entities to be climate-positive and uphold best standards, in practice this has not happened.

Unsurprisingly, accreditation has failed to achieve these goals as the process has no clear strategy to this end and there is no consensus within the board on what accreditation is meant to achieve. The 2020 evaluation recommended, therefore, that GCF should be realistic about the mandate given to accreditation in terms of functions and process.

In response, the GCF board made a small improvement to accreditation requirements by introducing the project‑specific assessment approach (PSAA) on a pilot basis for three years, enabling public and private sectors and NGOs to bring climate project proposals directly to GCF for rapid consideration.

Experience shows, however, that it will take time to streamline the project preparation process. We can only hope that the PSAA approach will overcome some of the many shortfalls. Promises are one thing but, as they say, the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

- Dr Kakonge, PhD, an environment expert, is former Kenya’s Ambassador/Permanent Representative to the UN Office at Geneva and WTO. [email protected].