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Supporting Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions through the Green Climate Fund: Governance Capacities and Challenges

Mathias Fridahl, Prabhat Upadhyaya, Björn-Ola Linnér

The Green Climate Fund (GCF) is emerging as an innovative multilateral climate finance institution to support adaptation and mitigation, including Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs), in developing countries. Using perspectives from the international environmental law and governance literature, this article identifies a crucial governance challenge facing NAMA support, a challenge related to states’ obligations vis-à-vis the GCF, and analyses the delegation and precision of governance capacities granted to the GCF Board to address that challenge. The GCF must engage in a balancing act. On the one hand, the absence of distinct criteria for deciding on NAMA support may prompt potential funders to pursue bilateral or other channels for support. On the other hand, too rigid a criteria may reduce developing countries’ submission and “ownership” of NAMA proposals. Both aspects potentially challenge the effectiveness of the GCF’s NAMA support. The Board has been granted a high governance capacity, relative to its mother institution the UNFCCC, to efficiently address this balancing act. Inability to exercise this capacity, however, may result in the establishment of a strong but empty shell for NAMA support.

Dr. Mathias Fridahl is a Postdoc, Prabhat Upadhyaya a PhD Candidate, and Dr. Björn-Ola Linnér a Professor at the Department of Thematic Studies – Environmental Change, Linköping University, Sweden. All three are affiliated with the Centre for Climate Science and Policy Research. The authors would like to acknowledge the Development and Mitigation Forum (University of Cape Town, 27-29 January 2014) for constructive input on an earlier version of this paper. This work was supported by the Swedish Energy Agency, grant no. P35462-2.


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