the Global Environment Facility'
Some sort of fund was needed to persuade Southern governments
to agree to the conservation and constraints on their national
development implied in the Conventions. The Northern donors
did not however want to become liable for all the potential
costs arising from the treaties, nor to put more money into
the United Nations (UN) system - with its relative accountability
to Southern governments and ‘inefficient’ political debates
and processes. The rich Northern governments also wanted to
reform existing international institutions to be more efficient
- but without alienating their allied banks and corporations
by regulating the terms of global trade and investment for
the sake of environmental protection.
The UN-hosted Multilateral Fund for the Montreal Protocol
(1987, to counter depletion of atmospheric ozone) had set
a precedent for global environmental finance that was not
welcomed by the major donor government treasuries, because
it allowed all governmental participants in the Protocol a
say in spending its funds. When it came to financing the Climate
and Biodiversity Conventions - far more politically loaded
and complex issues to deal with than ozone - the donors ignored
the Montreal Protocol’s effective precedent to deny the new
Conventions their own funds and instead establish a GEF under
the World Bank’s legal authority. Building on their reputation
for political conservatism, the Bank promised its major donors
a ‘business-like’ approach to ‘valuing the environment’ and
financing ‘sustainable development’.
In the lead up to Rio, the quietly established GEF attracted
opposition from Southern governments and non-governmental
organisations (NGOs) mistrustful of an opaque entity, a fait
accompli based in a World Bank accountable to donor
rather than client governments, let alone environmental
science or popular movements.