GCF boss sets goals on opening day

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GCF boss sets goals on opening day

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Hela Cheikhrouhou

Hela Cheikhrouhou, executive director of the Green Climate Fund (GCF), the first international organization to be based in Korea, said the opening of the fund’s secretariat will create jobs and bring more foreign officials from international institutions to Korea.

“It is not often that the world comes together to create a new multilateral international financing institution. So this is quite an important moment,” Cheikhrouhou said in an interview with the Korea JoongAng Daily. “In the global negotiations over climate change finance in Warsaw, the GCF was central. There was very strong support across the board. In that context, I do believe that it was a genuine success for Korea to be chosen as the host country for an institution that has this type of global mandate.”

The 41-year-old Tunisian, who has experience in development financing and served at the African Development Bank in Tunisia, said she is excited at the challenge of making the fund a successful institution in Korea.

“It will depend on our performance as a secretariat and the performance of the board, the political will of developed countries and the engagement of developing countries,” she said. “Many factors will determine how successful the institution will be. And its success will also contribute to the host country.”

The fund, headquartered in Songdo, Incheon, officially launches today. Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank Group, and Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, will attend the launch event.

Starting with $30 billion, the fund will gradually increase its capitalization every year with a goal of raising $100 billion.

Q. How can the GCF contribute to job creation in Korea?

A. The GCF has been approved by its board to have five directors, 53 professional staff members and some support positions. We will be seeking a good geographic and gender balance in hiring them.

We will soon open a competition for these positions to select candidates from different nationalities. Next May, the board will hold a meeting and invite board members and their advisers. When there is a meeting, a large number of institutions will throw workshops here.

In light of my experience of working in Tunisia [for the African Development Bank] and the Philippines [for the Asian Development Bank], establishing such a multilateral international financing institution affects both directly or indirectly the host country’s job creation.

How will the GCF collaborate with international organizations like the IMF, IBRD and ADB?

All of the institutions mentioned are very important, and they have all expressed interest in partnering with the fund. There will be great opportunities for partnerships because our mandate is focused on mitigating climate change and maximizing co-benefits for sustainable growth. It’s very complementary with the mandate of those other organizations that focus on sustainable development. With our resources, we can act as a catalyst.

In particular with the IMF, there could be partnerships on policy. When it comes to microeconomic programming and fiscal policies, the IMF is the primary institution that can be a partner on that. When it comes to development policies, multilateral banks can be partners on that.

How will you use the fund to help reduce the damage from climate change, for example, yellow dust from China?

Given the nature of the fund, what we will need is a catalyst or additional ingredient to make things work. When it comes to how to lower emissions, we need to see the kind of investments, whether in the energy sector or in the transport sector, that need an extra push to become economically possible for the countries to choose. Because every day, whether it’s public investors or private investors, they look to have choices - either a low-emission choice or a high-emission choice.

How severe do you think climate change is right now?

If you look at the latest IPCC report, the fact that the climate is changing due to human activities by now is basically a quasi-consensus in the scientific community. The changes may not be fully predicted.

Global warming does not mean that all countries will be hotter. It will mean there will be more extreme and more frequent disasters. There will be levels of water rising. Some countries will become colder. Some will have more rain. The patterns we used to have for centuries will become a question mark. Global warming could foster acceleration of an ice age - Who knows?

It is no longer a question. It is happening now.



BY SONG SU-HYUN [ssh@joongang.co.kr]

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