GEORGETOWN: A senior official of the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) says the operationalizing of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) provides an important opportunity for regional countries to adapt to climate change and mitigate its effects.
Selwin Hart, the Climate Change Finance Advisor with the CDB, said the fund could also assist the Caribbean move towards renewable energy and energy efficiency.
“The cost of energy in the Caribbean is the highest in the world,” he said. “This represents a serious strike on competitiveness, economic growth and job creation and the GCF presents a once in a lifetime opportunity for countries to have a stable source of financing to address the vulnerabilities both as it relates to importing fossil fuels as well as the impacts of climate change.”
Hart said one of the major problems facing Caribbean countries in the past has been the lack of capacity to effectively access and use funds even when such funds were available.
“Many of the requirements for accessing global funds lie outside of the reach of many of the small capacity-constraint counties of the region,” he said. “You have to undertake a rigorous examination in terms of fiduciary standards and social and environmental safeguards.”
As part of its climate resilient strategy the CDB has been assisting countries to build that capacity. However, in some instances it is more feasible for capacity to be built at a regional level rather than at the level of individual countries.
The CDB has also been tasked by Caribbean leaders to lead the resource mobilization effort.
The GCF will support projects, programs, policies and other activities in developing countries using thematic funding windows. It is intended to be the centre piece of efforts to raise climate finance of US$100 billion a year by 2020.
Executive Director at the GCF’s Secretariat, Hela Cheikhrouhou, said the GCF will put in place a multilateral financing institution that is focused on providing concessional financing to both private and public sector beneficiaries in developing countries.
“We hope that the developed countries will be there to provide grants and concessional loans to the fund to enable it to fulfill its mandate in the initial few years,” she said. “Now is the time for action and actual pledging.”
Cheikhrouhou said although developed countries are willing to make contributions to developing countries to utilize renewable energy, they will be looking for value for money, in terms of impact.
“The GCF has put in place some policies and procedures that make sure that when we are selecting an activity or project for support, its merits are significant,” she said.