The paper analyses whether the Green Climate Fund (GCF), by far the largest climate change fund, has so far delivered on its promise to prioritize the most vulnerable countries. For the analysis, the authors consider the USD 2.5 billion GCF funding allocated until the end of the first mobilization phase and disaggregate it project-by-project into its mitigation and adaptation related amounts. The adaptation flows are then analyzed in terms of the recipient country’s level of vulnerability and institutional capacity. The authors further analyze whether funds are being accessed through independent national entities or international intermediaries and whether recipient countries have developing country priority status.
The results show that funds-based adaptation finance creates an ambiguous picture: On the one hand, the GCF is on track in allocating its funds largely to country groups which its statutes aim to prioritize, particularly Least Developed Countries (LDC), African countries and Small Island Developing States (SIDS). At the same time, the proposal process results in the fact that many countries with the highest climate vulnerability but weak government institutions and fragile state-bureaucracies have missed out and not been able to access project funding, mostly LDCs in Africa and conflict-ridden countries. Further, most countries have not yet been able to access project funds independently through their national entities, limiting direct access and country ownership – the strengthening of which is a major goal of the fund. The findings suggest that simplified approval tracks need to be strengthened in the emerging climate finance architecture so that populations in countries with the lowest institutional capacity but highest vulnerability are not being left behind in the long-run.