Fund interim secretariat

Legal assistance paper

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Date produced: 07/12/2010

Are there any existing provisions in the UNFCCC that regulate what the role of the “interim secretariat for the design phase of the new fund” (LCA Chair’s Note, FCCC/AWGLCA/2010/CRP.2 – section IV.A) can be or should be?

Summary:

The UNFCCC does not appear to contain regulations that regulate the role of such an interim secretariat. However Article 21(3)UNFCCC, and COP/CMP decisions relating to the implementation of the financial mechanism under the UNFCCC and KP can be used as analogies to formulate guiding principles for the role of the secretariat. For example, in relation to the Adaptation Fund, there is a Memorandum of Understanding between the CMP and the GEF Council (FCCC/KP/CMP/2008/11/Add.2) which provides an analysis of secretariat services to be provided.

Advice:

The UNFCCC does not appear to contain regulations that regulate the role of such an interim secretariat. There is little guidance as to what the role of the interim secretariat could or should be.

However, analogy can be made with Article 21 (3) which provides for interim arrangements for the operation of the financial mechanism set out in Article 11 and places the Global Environment Facility (GEF), UN Environment Programme and the International Bank of Reconstruction and Development as the international entity entrusted with operation of the financial mechanism. Using this analogy, the following guiding principles could be discerned:

(1) equitable and balanced representation of all Parties;

(2) a transparent system of governance; and

(3) accountability to the COP, which shall provide guidance, decide on its policies, programme priorities and eligibility criteria.

Guidance relating to the role of the interim secretariat can be also found in the different COP/CMP decisions relating to the implementation of the financial mechanism under the UNFCCC and KP, and those relating to the different special funds (the Special Climate Change Fund, Least Developed Countries Fund and the Adaptation Fund), as well as the guidance provided to and the MOUs concluded with the Global Environment Facility (GEF) (e.g., the MOU concluded between the UNFCCC COP and the GEF Council, Decision 12/CP.2).

In relation to the Adaptation Fund, for example, the Memorandum of Understanding between the CMP and the GEF Council ‘regarding Secretariat Services to the Adaptation Fund Board’ (FCCC/KP/CMP/2008/11/Add.2) provides an elaborate analysis of the secretariat services to be provided by the GEF on an interim basis under the guidance and instructions of the Board:

“The secretariat shall, under the guidance and instructions of the Board, provide the following services to the Board to support and facilitate the work of the Board:

(a) As a dedicated team of officials, provide secretariat services to the Board in a functionally independent and effective manner;

(b) Manage the daily operations of the Fund and report to the Board;

(c) Assist the Board in developing strategies, policies and guidelines for the Fund;

(d) Ensure timely implementation of the decisions of the Board;

(e) With respect to the day to day functioning of the Fund, act as liaison between the Board and Parties and implementing and executing entities;

(f) Make arrangements for the meetings of the Board, including issuance of invitations and preparation of documents and reports of meetings, and provide a secretary of the Board meeting;

(g) Develop the work programme and annual administrative budget of the Fund and submit them for approval by the Board;

(h) Ensure the implementation of the operational policies and guidelines of the Fund developed by the Board through, inter alia, the development of a project cycle based on criteria to be adopted by the Board;

(i) Operationalize the project cycle by:

(i) Undertaking initial review and screening of project proposals to assess conformity with guidelines approved by the Board;

(ii) Presenting project proposals for Board approval;

(iii) Monitoring implementation of progress;

(iv) Periodically reporting to the Board on portfolio performance;

(j) Coordinate the formulation and monitor the implementation of projects, ensuring liaison with

other bodies as required;

(k) Liaise, as appropriate, with the secretariats of other relevant international bodies;

(l) Provide the trustee with all relevant information to enable it to carry out its responsibilities,

consistent with decision 1/CMP.3 and the decisions of the Board;

(m) Provide services to ensure and facilitate proper communication with Parties;

(n) Perform any other functions assigned to it by the Board.”

On a general note, it is observed that interim secretariats are often used in the context of international treaties (in particular multilateral environmental agreements). At the negotiation stage, their purpose is to assist the parties with the management of the negotiations prior to the first Conference of the Parties (after entry into force). After the first COP, the secretariat will usually become a permanent body, albeit that this sometimes does not happen for many more years (e.g., the secretariats of the World Heritage Convention and the Ramsar Wetlands Convention). “Interim secretariat status has implications for the nature of the tasks carried out by secretariats, the degree of initiative exercised by them, and the nature and size of the budgets required to carry out their functions. Interim secretariats are likely to be more passive than are permanent secretariats, whose institutional status is assured. Once the secretariat becomes permanent, the task focus of the secretariat changes to treaty implementation. This includes assisting the Contracting Parties to meet their obligations under the agreement and assisting the ongoing process of liaison with non-parties to persuade them of the benefits of signing the treaty.”