Participation please!

Board members making decisions this week in Songdo, South Korea, at the second meeting of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) (following quickly in the wake of the first one which met only 8 weeks ago in Geneva), must keep at the forefront of their minds the needs of people living with the highest levels of poverty and climate vulnerability: what better way to do that than to listen to civil society organisations?

It is proving very difficult for civil society organisations such as Tearfund, which strongly advocates for the needs of people living in poverty, to comment on forthcoming GCF proceedings, let alone have a chance to influence any decisions. As the Green Climate Fund website screenshot here shows, no documents are posted publicly at present, so we have not been able to see meeting documents or, indeed, the agenda.



Tearfund hopes that early on in Songdo, this situation is transformed and that decisions are made so that civil society observers experience high levels of inclusion. We trust too, that a prevailing strong spirit of accountability and transparency will be established that will reflect across all the GCF Board’s future proceedings. 

Participation of civil society at board meetings is just a very small part of the picture though. In order for climate adaptation finance to reach vulnerable communities in ways that will actually deliver positive change, participatory practices must stretch way beyond the Board room, to recipient developing countries and right down to community level.

In a recent speech the new World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim spoke about the difficulty in seeing effective delivery of development programmes, and referred to the inclusivity of stakeholders as being crucial part of addressing this difficulty:

“Many countries have strong, coherent development policies and programs—on paper. But they are not getting the results they want. In country after country, sector after sector, the greatest challenge is delivery.

“… the quality of our knowledge depends on the inclusiveness of the debate. Excluding shareholders from the conversation deprives us of critical data. Thus, if grassroots community voices aren’t heard, our understanding of delivery processes will be distorted and incomplete.” (see

A recent report produced by Tearfund and CAFOD, however, noted that consultation with civil society remains a weakness of multilateral funds – one civil society observer of such a fund told us “CSOs are invited late to a capital city for a half-day meeting to ‘rubber-stamp’ a plan.” (see Quick off the blocks: UK adaptation finance and integrated planning

We know from the previous meeting in Geneva that the ‘Work Plan for the GCF’ is on the agenda for this week’s meeting. In that plan, Tearfund wants to see high priority given to meaningful participation of civil society and communities in national, district and local level decision making, implementation and accountability: so that the GCF does deliver for people living with the highest levels of poverty and climate vulnerability.



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