The IEU urges significant changes to the GCF

  • Article type News
  • Publication date 09 Dec 2019

(December 2019) The world’s largest funding body for climate change actions, the Green Climate Fund (GCF), has been urged in an independent review to adopt several major changes if it is to remain at the forefront of supporting the climate financing needs of developing countries.

Produced by the GCF’s Independent Evaluation Unit (IEU) and presented at the 23rd Meeting of the Board of the GCF, the Forward-looking Performance Review of the Green Climate Fund (FPR) highlighted that the GCF has achieved much during its initial years.

Until February 2019, the Fund had committed just over USD 5.3 billion (or 75 per cent) of the USD 7.1 billion of available pledged capital to projects and programmes and is expected to leverage additional co-financing up to USD 12.6 billion of investments in GCF supported projects. These projects are expected to reduce 1.5 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent and benefit over 276 million people. The Fund has also been able to build a network of 83 international, regional and national agencies that are eligible to receive funds from it.

However, the Review also found a number of areas where the GCF can improve. In particular, the FPR finds that the time required to apply for and finally receive GCF financial support is long at more than 1,000 days, and currently, the GCF meets less than 1% of developing countries’ total quantified financial needs for combatting climate change (as expressed in their NDCs). Critically, the Review finds that with less than 10% of committed GCF funds (USD 5.3 billion) disbursed to projects and programmes, the GCF needs to still demonstrate the urgency required to deal with today’s climate crisis.

According to Dr. Jyotsna Puri (Jo), Head of the IEU and lead author of the Review, “The GCF occupies a unique role in the global fight against climate change. It is the leading agency for financing actions by developing countries to adapt to and mitigate climate change. This role could be enhanced by following the key recommendations in the FPR. The GCF should strengthen its business processes so it can better address the specific needs and capacities of developing countries. These processes need to be prompt, predictable and transparent and could be better achieved by increasing the use of country-based direct access entities.”
The key recommendations in the FPR include, among others:

  • Better addressing the individual needs and capacities of developing countries and increasing the role of national entities in managing GCF-funded activities
  • Developing a new strategic plan that positions GCF as a thought leader, policy influencer and provider of innovative climate crisis solutions
  • Re-emphasizing its support to adaptation investments while recognizing the role of new actors in mitigation such as the private-sector
  • Improving access to the GCF through more transparent, ‘user-friendly’ policies and greater predictability in GCF processes
  • Ensuring greater delegation of authority and decision-making from the GCF Board to its Secretariat

Ms. Liane Schalatek, Active Observer for Civil Society Organizations representing the GCF’s developed countries constituency, said that while CSOs do not agree with all the FPR recommendations, they acknowledge that the release of the FPR reflects not only the importance of IEU’s independence in reviewing the GCF’s performance but also the importance of GCF’s willingness as a learning institution to respond to emerging evidence and the evolving needs of developed countries.

“To be credible, institutions financing international climate actions require an independent evaluation function free of institutional or external influence and capable of producing well-researched, evidence-based assessments. The Forward-Looking Review of the GCF is proof that the IEU is such a credible, independent evaluator. It also demonstrates the willingness of the GCF Secretariat and Board to engage constructively with the FPR and its recommendations and to integrate them as lessons learned during the First Replenishment.” Ms. Schalatek said.

The FPR was presented to the twenty-third meeting (B.23) of the GCF Board at the GCF headquarters in Songdo, Republic of Korea, in July 2019. Having taken note of the findings and recommendations presented in the FPR, the Board requested the Secretariat to provide a management response to the Review at its twenty-fourth meeting (B.24) in November 2019.

As requested by the Board at B.23, the Secretariat delivered its official response at B.24. The Secretariat welcomed the final report of the FPR, acknowledging it provides critical insights into the GCF's performance during its initial resource mobilization (2015–2018). Although the Secretariat felt some IEU findings lacked clarity, overall it was encouraged by the report and said it will ensure relevant measures are taken for the GCF to realize greater paradigm-shifting impact for developing countries. (ends)

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A full version of the 366-page FPR and an executive summary is available at

The Green Climate Fund (GCF) was set up by the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 2010 to support the efforts of developing countries to respond to the challenge of climate change. It aims to deliver equal amounts of funding to mitigation and adaptation while being guided by the Convention’s principles and provisions.

The IEU was established by the GCF Board on 13 February 2014. The IEU plays a crucial role in leading the evaluation and learning function of the GCF. It has the following objectives:

  • To inform the Board's decision making, synthesize lessons learned and guide the GCF and its stakeholders;
  • To undertake and deliver high quality and independent evaluations of the GCF's performance, activities and results; and
  • To inform the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement.


Lead author of the Review and Head of the Independent Evaluation Unit, Dr. Jyotsna Puri (Jo), is chairing several events at COP 25 and is available for interviews.
Please contact Courtland Matthews at the IEU: [email protected] or +82(0)10-7458-6491
or email [email protected]