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Grim Climate Fun in Bali

By Red Constantino

It’s been raining here since I arrived early morning Monday. I was supposed to come in at one in the morning on Saturday, but the Friday flight was canceled — ring of fire blues in Indonesia, with the Kelud volcano erupting and scattering the lives of countless families.


I’m here now and there is work to be done. For starters, along with a broad array of advocates demanding direct access to climate funds — but only when they come with robust, social and

environmental safeguards and high fiduciary standards — we are standing together on a solid platform that iCSC helped craft. It’s a condensed call that reflects the values of a broad alliance of groups from the climate change advocacy arena and organizations working on human rights, based on an initiative proudly led by developing country organizations, including iCSC.

A lot of old friends here — long time monitors of finance and maldevelopment programs pushed by banks and international development institutions — and heaps of new faces as well. Many among the Indonesians are colleagues I’ve been working with for many years, and there are friends as well from the US and Europe and Africa. We’ve come together, I’d like to believe, in order to help give direction to, and spur more ambition and developing country-driven, community-sensitive action from the Green Climate Fund, or the GCF.

Though the formal meeting starts in a few days a large number of civil society groups have been convening since the 12th of this month. The earliest to convene were colleagues working with or from Aksi!, an extremely spirited network of women from Indonesia fighting for, among other things, climate justice, adaptation finance, safeguards and more inclusive, equitable governance. This was followed by a pretty productive South-South meeting, I was told, where developing country NGOs met on strategy matters and planning not only for activities that people can and will do together for

the duration of the Bali meetings of the Green Climate Fund, but also for subsequent meetings of the GCF. It would not have been possible without the leadership of Jubilee South-Asia Pacific Movement on Debt and Development, whose voice continues to be credible enough to convene NGOs and social movements that represent wide ranging political and issue persuasions.

We re-assembled today into a far larger group, with developed country NGOs and developing country groups convening to exchange notes and strategies about how to deal with this so-far-empty behemoth, but which is increasingly taking a pathway different from what it was envisioned to be many years ago. For instance, official discussions are more and more private sector-focused now, with more definitive allocations reserved seemingly for initiatives that involve use of the private sector facility, which is also flirting with and almost hankering for some kind of consummation with the murky world of shadow banking financial intermediaries such as hedge funds and private equity funds. There is also less and less space for voices of civil society to exercise not only sway but to help reduce harm and help increase benefits to communities more and more vulnerable to climate change impacts. Not everything is bad of course. A major document draft shows bias — very good — towards keeping to high fiduciary standards. But the same document, unfortunately, places less than a fraction of importance on social and environmental protections. Huge imbalance.

Having quality time with comrades from past campaigns is salve for the soul in such an opaque, impersonal setting. The worst, part of course, is that the meeting is taking place in the usual, globally renowned convention gulags. Kyoto has its version, like Jeju and Cancun and Durban. Here it’s Nusa Dua in Bali, an epicenter of blah and bling, so far removed from the anguish and uncertainties of places threatened by the steady or episodic annihilation brought about by the climate crisis.

It’s grim climate fun here, but there’s work to be done. There’s someone here from Tacloban, and his presence is a reminder to all

of us to stay rooted in the reason why we all do what we do.

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