GCF head steps down, Bangladesh faces monsoon season, and IOM rebukes US nominee: This week in development

Howard Bamsey stepped down as executive director of the Green Climate Fund. Photo by: Green Growth Knowledge Platform / CC BY-NC-ND

The Green Climate Fund’s leader steps down abruptly, the U.K. commits to “clearer” safeguarding guidelines, and global health leaders call for action on NCDs. This week in development:

The Green Climate Fund’s executive director stepped down abruptly on Wednesday, leaving the organization’s future in doubt. Howard Bamsey, an Australian diplomat who had led the GCF since January 2017, resigned after a “difficult” meeting in Songdo, South Korea, during which the GCF failed to add to its portfolio of 76 projects, worth $3.7 billion. The GCF has struggled with disputes between rich and poor nations about how and where to invest — and progress was further hampered in 2017 after President Donald Trump pulled U.S. support. “Everyone said this is the low point,” said Jasmine Hyman, an environmental consultant at the British firm E Co., who attended the meeting. “This was a disappointing meeting but hopefully it’s a canary in the mine and not a nail in the coffin.”

The United States’ candidate to head the U.N. migration agency was rejected last week, raising fears of retaliation from the agency's largest donor. António Vitorino of Portugal was elected as the organization’s new director general, the first time in 50 years that the head of the International Organization for Migration is not an American. The U.S. candidate, Ken Isaacs, was a controversial pick due to his comments on social media criticizing Islam and dismissing climate change. A week before the election, 50 organizations working on migration signed a letter to IOM member states that, while not mentioning Isaacs by name, said the new agency head should demonstrate “a record of and commitment to respecting diversity and condemning xenophobia, discrimination and intolerance.” Characterizing the election result as a “stinging rebuke” to Washington, Michael Clemens, a senior fellow at Center for Global Development, stated, “I would be very surprised if the United States did not take some retaliation” against IOM.

The U.K. Department for International Development will provide “clearer guidance” about when and how to report potential safeguarding violations in advance of the International Safeguarding Summit in October, officials said this week. This comes after concerns were raised that previous guidance — which asserted that “any and all safeguarding concerns” would be referred to “relevant local authorities” — could put victims at risk in some contexts. During a parliamentary evidence session, members of the International Development Committee challenged DFID chief Penny Mordaunt and Peter Taylor, head of DFID’s new safeguarding unit, about the new guidance. Mordaunt defended the order, saying that DFID and other aid-spending departments were well equipped to make those kinds of “careful judgments.” “As secretary of state for DFID, I’m not going to take a dim view of an organization that takes a course of action to protect a victim from further trouble,” she said.

After a two-day visit to Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, World Bank President Jim Kim is calling for more global support to help the almost 1 million Rohingya refugees fleeing violence in Myanmar. Kim, along with U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, visited the Kutupalong refugee camp, where he “saw firsthand the sheer scale of the crisis,” and called for more international support for Bangladesh's work “managing the dire situation created by this large influx.” Aid workers in Bangladesh’s seaside district of Cox’s Bazar are currently focused on ensuring vulnerable Rohingya refugees survive a lengthy monsoon season. Groups have already relocated more than 30,000 of those most at risk away from the landslide-prone hillsides, while others are training refugees in cyclone preparedness and search and rescue. Devex reporter Kelli Rogers sat down with IOM Bangladesh's new chief of mission to find out what the agency will prioritize in the next few months.

More than 50 health experts signed a letter for action on noncommunicable diseases, outlining an eight-point agenda to reduce the global epidemic of NCDs and accelerate progress ahead of the U.N. General Assembly High-level Meeting on the prevention and control of NCDs in September. At the top of the agenda is assigning accountability at the highest political levels, which many NGO leaders said is key to unlocking financing for NCDs, but a goal that previous high-level meetings failed to accomplish. During this year’s meeting, health experts are determined to weigh in on best practices that should define the strong political commitments they hope will emerge from the 2018 meeting. For more on the global burden of NCDs, visit Devex’s Taking the Pulse series.

About the author

  • Anne Paisley

    Anne Paisley is a former senior manager of editorial planning and production at Devex, where she oversaw Devex’s newsletters, website, and editorial production team. Prior to joining Devex in 2015, Anne was the managing editor at the Center for American Progress. She has previously held positions at CNN, the U.S. Department of State, and Cambridge Associates. She earned a bachelor’s degree in international affairs and Asian studies from George Washington University, including a semester abroad at Peking University in Beijing.