Today is my last day as Head of the Independent Integrity Unit (IIU) at the Green Climate Fund (GCF). It has been my privilege over the last six years as pioneer Head of IIU (along with my colleagues) to set the foundations of the Unit and to establish the building blocks of integrity at the GCF.
Since 2016, working closely with colleagues in the GCF Secretariat and with the Ethics and Audit Committee (EAC) of the Board, we have worked to create a comprehensive framework of integrity policies that cover prohibited practices, money laundering, terrorist financing, witness and whistleblower protection, sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment, and administrative remedies. We have instituted GCF integrity policies into legal agreements and operational arrangements with all of the Fund’s partners and other relationships, as a result of which all of the Fund’s operations are now safeguarded against fraud and corruption. We have created a strong alliance of integrity offices in GCF accredited and direct access entities working together to ensure the protection of GCF funds entrusted to them for the execution of projects and programmes that help to avert the worst impacts of climate change.
“We have built a highly competent and efficient investigations capability, founded on strong principles, procedures and professionalism. This has ensured that we are able to manage complaints and allegations of integrity breaches in a timely and highly competent manner, while also distilling important lessons and providing advisories to Secretariat colleagues on strengthening internal control to prevent integrity breaches.”
We have intentionally aligned the IIU with the vision of the GCF in order to ensure that the activities of the IIU effectively complement the operations of the Fund, and to help ensure maximum impact of GCF financing. We have fulfilled the role of the IIU within the monitoring and accountability framework of the GCF by creating an industry-leading data analytics project that deploys an artificial intelligence-based statistical model to undertake integrity risk assessments of GCF projects within established risk indicators, so as to implement appropriate preventative interventions and strengthen any weaknesses in internal control.
"We have built a highly competent and efficient investigations capability, founded on strong principles, procedures and professionalism. This has ensured that we are able to manage complaints and allegations of integrity breaches in a timely and highly competent manner, while also distilling important lessons and providing advisories to Secretariat colleagues on strengthening internal control to prevent integrity breaches."
We have built a network of integrity amongst GCF partners, particularly Direct Access Entities (DAE integrating GCF integrity standards not only in GCF-financed operations but also in their other developmental initiatives. In doing this, we have been conscious of the provision in the Governing Instrument that the GCF will provide access to funding through a country-driven approach. We have therefore applied a differentiated approach in supporting DAEs to build the capacity to address the risks of integrity breaches, prevent fraud and corruption in GCF-financed operations, and prevent sexual exploitation and abuse.
In addition to this, we have also pursued thematic and sectoral approaches that identify key issues potentially impacting integrity in GCF operations. As an illustration, recognizing that the Fund seeks to establish equality between mitigation and adaptation, we have developed expertise in the potential risks of maladaptation resulting from integrity failures. We have also developed specific sector expertise and collaboration in the water and sanitation sector.
Overall, we have achieved the target that we set for ourselves to become the global leader in climate finance integrity. In its 2017 report entitled “A Tale of Four Funds”, and further verified in its April 2022 publication “Corruption-free climate finance: Strengthening multilateral funds”, Transparency International assessed the Green Climate Fund as the best-performing climate fund in four areas of governance – integrity, accountability, transparency and methods for assessing policy effectiveness. This is a significant substantiation of the work that we have done since 2016 in building integrity into GCF operations.
“As I leave the IIU today, I am satisfied that I leave a strong Independent, Integrity Unit. I am also assured that the IIU is in good hands under the interim leadership of my colleague Albert Lihalakha. I have had the privilege to work with him and my other distinguished colleagues over the last few years, and I am most grateful for their commitment and hard work.”
I am therefore glad to report that the state of integrity in GCF operations is very good. We can proudly state that we have attained our mantra of “0% Corruption, 100% Climate Action!”.
I would like to pay tribute to GCF Executive Director Yannick Glemarec for his unwavering leadership of the cause of integrity in GCF operations. Yannick has championed the efforts of the IIU in instituting strong integrity safeguards and in fulfilling its role in the monitoring and accountability framework of the Fund. Furthermore, the IIU has enjoyed the support and collaboration of colleagues in the Secretariat, and I offer my gratitude, particularly to colleagues in the Office of General Counsel, Office of Human Resources, Office of Internal Audit, Division of Project Monitoring and Office of Risk Management and Control.
Let me also put on record the invaluable support that we have received from civil society. Our civil society collaborations have been incredibly important in extending the reach of the IIU and the GCF into beneficiary communities and increasing our footprint in project communities. Civil society continues to be the strongest advocate for accountability in climate financing and a willing partner in implementing important initiatives and building frameworks for peer learning.
As I leave the IIU today, I am satisfied that I leave a strong Independent, Integrity Unit. I am also assured that the IIU is in good hands under the interim leadership of my colleague Albert Lihalakha. I have had the privilege to work with him and my other distinguished colleagues over the last few years, and I am most grateful for their commitment and hard work.
Finally, I would like to commend the exceptional commitment, professionalism and dedication of the staff of the Green Climate Fund. The outstanding work done by GCF staff is the reason why the Fund today can show the great results that it has and which the world so desperately needs to be successful.
Onward to greater things.
Head of the Independent Integrity Unit