Policy Paper | October 2013

How can the Green Climate Fund initiate a Paradigm Shift?


World leaders and governments paved the way for the establishment of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) agreements made at the Conference of Parties (COPs) in Copenhagen (2009) and Cancún (2010). The key objectives of the UNFCCC are to limit global warming to below 2°C (or even 1.5°C) and to make societies more resilient to the expected impacts of climate change. ‘Business as usual’ is not an option if we are to achieve this; we need “a global remodelling of economy and society towards sustainability […] comparable with the two great revolutions which have crucially shaped world history: the Neolithic Revolution (the diffusion of arable farming and animal husbandry) and the Industrial Revolution (the transition from an agrarian to an industrial society)”.This can only be achieved if high-emitting countries, which have the greatest historical responsibility for climate change, meet their responsibilities and decarbonise their economies.

Key messages

  • The objective of the Green Climate Fund is to achieve a paradigm shift  towards low-carbon and climate-resilient development pathways. This requires ambition, in the design of funded activities and in the provision of financial resources to the GCF.
  • A paradigm shift might imply moving to more programmatic approaches, for example approaches covering whole sectors or economies.
  • Strong country ownership is essential for a paradigm shift to occur and important for ambition; it will ensure that new ways of working endure in the long term.
  • The GCF can create the conditions for achieving a paradigm shift by providing clear incentives and guidance for ambitious proposals by governments and sub-national actors, by developing access modalities that ensure strong country ownership by supporting the necessary capacity development, and by encouraging robust knowledge sharing. This must be matched with the provision of large financial resources to the fund.

Download the policy brief How can the Green Climate Fund initiate a paradigm shift?

David Eckstein
Policy Advisor for Climate Finance and Investments at Germanwatch
+49(0) 228 / 60 492-45
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