Bringing Local Realities to Board Level: GAGGA and Both ENDS Partners at the GCF B38 in Rwanda

Last week Both ENDS participated in the 38th Board Meeting of the Green Climate Fund in Kigali, Rwanda, together with GAGGA partners Fatoumata Mbodji (LSD Senegal), Emem Okon (Kebetbache Nigeria), Alda Salomao (Tindzila Mozambique), Zenabou Segda (Women Environmental Program Burkina Faso) and Ibrahima Dia (IED Afrique, project lead in the Communities Regreen the Sahel program). 

As Both ENDS, we have been working on the GCF (one of the main financial funds for climate finance towards the Global South of the UN) for over a decade, and in our GAGGA program we target the GCF as one of the key investors in gender-just climate solutions: climate (adaptation) projects where local women and local knowledge are central. Furthermore, together with our partner IED Afrique, we aim to put agroecology and farmer-led regreening initiatives in West Africa on the agenda of climate funders, such as the GCF.

Over the past decade, and together with many partners across the globe, we have advocated for local access in the GCF. This means: local women-led organisations access to decision-making and redress on climate finance – both at the level of the GCF Board and in the countries of our partners, and to get the GCF to fund local and gender-just climate solutions of our (GAGGA) partner network. 

In the first type of access, GAGGA has been very succesful: with strong women-led CSO presence on GCF matters in at least 10 countries, CSO round tables on climate finance, several multi-day, trainings for our partner network (e.g. June 2023 in Rio de Janeiro), feedback to policies regarding gender, ongoing development and formulation of gender-just climate solutions and very recently a succesful complaint case on a GCF project driven by our partners AIDA. This is a continuous process that needs to be maintained and reinforced time and again. The second type of access has proven to be much harder: despite the mandate of the GCF to fund local women’s organisations, to put gender at the heart and the policy efforts made by the Board so far, we fail to see real women-led climate action and gender-just climate solutions translated into projects. At the end of the day, thats where we will see real transformational climate action!

One of the reasons for this is the huge disconnect to what policy makers (Board Members) and the secretariat at the international level decide, and what the local realities on the ground reflect. Therefore, GAGGA is able to support partners to Board Meetings like these so we can bridge this disconnect, both for our partners and for the policy makers. 

Therefore I was very happy to bring a small team of African GAGGA partners to Kigali to attend the 4-day board meeting early March 2024, where we had the opportunity to meet several board members (e.g. Gambia, Mali, Netherlands, Canada), members of the Secretariat (on gender, agriculture, accreditation), the GCF independent units (IRM, IEU), accredited entities, and the amazing GCF CSO group to have a full learning experience that both resulted in a much better understanding of the GCF, renewed ideas and entry points for actions in our partners countries, expanded networks while simultaneosly we strongly advocated for gender-just climate solutions and provided a local perspective to all the actors we spoke to, which confirmed the idea that the disconnect still very much exist. 

Lastly, Ibrahima and I were able to better understand and connect our projects in Senegal and West Africa to GCF project cycles. Although very complicated, we appreciated the support from the Secretariat who clearly explained entry points and insisted that the Regreening and Agroecology initiatives are indeed a good fit for in the Green Climate Fund.

As Fatoumata describes below: the GCF has several entry points for our GAGGA network and other Both ENDS partners: whether it is to monitor and complain against projects to develop gender-just climate solutions that could be funded by funds like the GCF.

Read the reflections of Fatoumata Mbodji on her week in Kigali below:

Fatoumata Mbodji:

“During this week I learned a lot about how the GCF works. I have a better understanding not only of the fund’s project approval procedures, but also of the role played by board members. Meeting different stakeholders (secretaratiat, private sector, CSOs) enabled me to network and identify their roles in GCF-funded projects. Now, I have contacts within the GCF and this greatly facilitates the advocacy work we intend to undertake for the inclusion of community women in the GCF meeting agenda. It was also important to know that beyond funding, project evaluation and monitoring of compliance with fund policies are points of engagement with civil society.”

“It was easy for me to strike up a conversation with members of the board of directors or management, which is a source of motivation and opens up prospects for the future if we really want to get involved in the GCF. I was surprised at the lack of representation from the African region at this meeting, even though it was organized on the continent.”

“It’s important for us as a network to make it easier for different organizations to understand the GCF. There are a number of opportunities for involvement: some will want to help communities benefit from the fund’s financing, in which case they will have to master a lengthy procedure that requires a lot of time and resources; others, like me, will want to get involved with the fund’s appeal mechanisms and assist communities affected by GCF projects. As a network, GAGGA will have to help organize work on the GCF according to the interests and skills of the various member organizations.”

– By Daan Robben, Both ENDS

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