Multilateral Climate Finance Coordination: Politics and Depoliticization in Practice

Global Environmental Politics, Vol 23, No 2, 2023, pp. 125-147

The governance of public climate finance for mitigation and adaptation in developing countries is fragmented on both the international and national levels, with a high diversity of actors with overlapping mandates, preferences, and areas of expertise. In the absence of one unifying actor or institution, coordination among actors has emerged as a response to this fragmentation. In this article, we study the coordination efforts of the two most important multilateral climate funds, the Climate Investment Funds (CIF) and the Green Climate Fund (GCF), on the global level as well as within two recipient countries, Kenya and Zambia. The CIF and the GCF are anchored within the World Bank and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, respectively, and represent two diverging perspectives on climate finance. We find that on both levels, coordination was depoliticized by treating it as a technical exercise, rendering invisible the political divergences among actors. The implications of this depoliticization are that both funds coordinate mainly with actors with similar preferences, and consequently, coordination did not achieve its objectives. The article contributes to the literatures on coordination, climate finance, and environmental governance by showing how a response to the fragmentation of climate governance did not overcome political fault lines but rather reinforced them.