Developed countries have failed to choose their representatives on the board of the new loss and damage fund by the agreed deadline, risking delays in getting money to climate victims.
At Cop28, governments asked the UN’s climate change arm to organise a meeting of the fund’s new board “once all voting member nominations have been submitted, but no later than 31 January 2024”.
As the deadline passed yesterday, the different regional groups of developing countries had chosen 13 of their 14 representatives. Only two are women.
But developed countries have chosen none of theirs and a UN Climate Change spokesperson said they couldn’t convene the board until all the nominations are in.
Fijian climate ambassador Daniel Lund said “there is some concern that we’re losing a bit of time given that we have quite a bit that would need to be discussed”.
Mattias Frumerie is the Swedish climate ambassador and was on the transitional committee that helped set up the fund. He told Climate Home that the group was “still working on the distribution of the seats”, adding that it was “great to see the interest to be on the board”.
A source with knowledge of discussions said that the two major blocks of developed countries – the European Union and the Umbrella Group – were debating how many seats each should get.
The source said that the EU is arguing that the number of seats should be related to the amount donated to the fund. A European Commission spokesperson declined to comment.
The EU has pledged $447m to the fund whereas the Umbrella Group – which includes big economies like the USA, Japan and the UK – has only pledged $115m.
On top of developed countries, there has also been no nomination for the seat for developing countries falling outside of the groupings for Africa, Asia-Pacific, small island developing states and least developed countries. This group is mainly made up of ex-Soviet nations like Armenia.
Work to do
After the board is formed, it will need to negotiate the terms and conditions on which the World Bank will host the fund.
That is likely to be contentious as developing countries have tried to limit the World Bank’s role.
A decision is supposed to be made by August 12, eight months after the end of Cop28.
A board meeting will then need to be held to sign off on the hosting agreement. Subsequently, governments’ pledges to support the fund will need to be turned into signed contribution agreements and sent over to the fund’s bank account.
Only then will the fund will be able to start dishing out money to help victims of climate disasters in developing countries.
Around this time last year, there were similar fears about nominations to the transitional committee delaying its work.
Due to regional tensions, the Asian group failed to nominate its members to the committee until just over a week before its first meeting on 27 March. In the end, seven Asian countries had to share three seats.