GEF funding cause for worry

Published: Sunday 30 April 2006

industrialised countries use financial support to developing nations as a lever to exercise power. One such latest ntention is the Resource Allocation Framework (raf) of the Global Environment Facility (gef). raf is a method to assess allocations for each developing country. A closer look at raf reveals that it means lesser funds for smaller developing nations. raf will be calculated by multiplying two parameters: gef benefits index (gbi) and the gef performance index (gpi). The former quantifies a country's potential to generate global ecobenefits, while the latter is an evaluation of a nation's policies and practices.

The parameters have had Indian officials elated: large countries are likely to have more bioresources, and hence more potential to generate global ecobenefits. under raf more would be available, says Sudhir Mittal, joint secretary, Union ministry of environment and forests.

But the picture isn't so rosy. The two parameters have also been given weightages : gbi has been accorded a weightage of 0.8, while gpi gets a weightage of one. "More emphasis for performance means that developing countries will have to tailor their policies according to whims of the industrialised world," says Dilip Ahuja, dean, school of social sciences, National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore. Moreover, while gbi would be disclosed publicly, there is no such stipulation for the performance indicator. Therefore, performance can be selectively interpreted and funds could be withdrawn without giving any explanation.

Experts also decry the use of carbon intensity -- the tonnes of carbon equivalent emitted in 2000 per unit of gdp -- as a parameter to evaluate gbi. "For India, whose increasing service sector means low carbon intensity, raf may imply positive impacts. But this is not the case with other nations," concludes Ahuja.

Many also castigate raf as a political move. "A us delegate to the recently concluded conference of parties to the Convention to Biodiversity stated that his country wanted to be sure that resources flow only to nations exercising good governance. Coming from the us we know what good governance is going to be," says Zoe Young, a London based developmental researcher and writer.

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