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Head of UN Climate Fund Faces Challenges

The 27th Green Climate Fund board was overshadowed by serious challenges. Personnel is facing both internal and external problems.

INCHEON, South Korea, Dec. 26, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The 27th session of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) board meeting recently concluded with approximately USD 1 billion of funding approved.

During deliberations, Executive Director Yannick Glemarec claimed an impressive milestone of USD 1.4 billion disbursements across 69 countries for climate aid. However, most of the receiving countries are not in the position to sign privileges and immunities agreements with the GCF.

According to the head of the Fund, "GCF personnel can be sued, assets can be seized and can be taxed," proving that the GCF is legally unprepared as it provides climate aid. The fund´s legal counsel explained to the board that staff working for the GCF can be "frustrated by arrest, lawsuits, and criminal procedures". Additionally, recent internal problems were highlighted during the meeting.

In a significant moment, Glemarec blamed the current COVID-19 pandemic for the Fund's inability to attract and retain talent. However, in a recent article by the Financial Times, former GCF staff complained of a "toxic working culture promoted by incompetent management."

Board members reminded the Executive Director of the importance of staff morale and improving the grievance mechanism. In regard to a consultancy report on Sexual Exploitation and Harassment, Alternate Board Member Ashufta Alam from the UK recognized "the very difficult circumstances the team had been working in". Board Member Walter Schuldt stated that "acts of sexual harassment should be treated in an expedite and exemplary manner."

Glemarec attempted to explain the high number of staff complaints with a wide range of issues and not just management misconduct. He has previously held an online forum for staff to raise concerns and has promised training for managers on the organization's values. Staff continues to depart from the troubled Fund, leading to a 400% increase in workload for those remaining.

A report from the Independent Integrity Units (IIU) showed that the number of complaints has doubled from 2018 levels. The publicly available report highlights five substantiated cases of misconduct - two regarding sexual harassment and three regarding various forms of persistent and recurrent harassment of GCF staff members - between August and September 2020.

The first day of the meeting closed on a remark by Mr. Ibrahim Pam, head of IIU, who noted a lack of independence at the Independent Integrity Unit, stating that he administratively reports to the Executive Director, an arrangement that paralyzes action even as violations pile up.

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