GCF replenishment, Polio eradication, and World Bank 'Doing Business': This week in development

Green Climate Fund Executive Director Yannick Glemarec. Photo by: GCF

The Green Climate Fund fights for support, the World Bank praises Saudi Arabia, and WHO says Ebola is still an emergency. This week in development:

Health experts are warning against complacency, as they celebrate the eradication of wild poliovirus type 3, an achievement announced by the World Health Organization on World Polio Day on Thursday. “The last thing we want is to highlight the job is done. The job is not done. There is still wild poliovirus type 1 that needs to be eradicated,” Oliver Rosenbauer, WHO communications officer and spokesperson for the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, told Devex. Wild poliovirus type 3 is the second of three types of wild polio to be eradicated. Health experts are now working to strike a balance between vaccinating against polio and ensuring those efforts do not spread vaccine-derived polio in places where it has already been defeated.

The Green Climate Fund is hoping to scrape together a replenishment that will match its initial round of contributions in 2014 — despite missing some of the key donors who supported the fund five years ago. In an interview with Devex at the institution’s headquarters in Songdo, South Korea, GCF Executive Director Yannick Glemarec said he hopes to raise $9.3 billion, of which $7.5 billion had already been pledged before the conference began on Thursday. “Our job is to encourage developing countries to raise their climate ambitions, because they will be able to realize it,” Glemarec said. Civil society groups have called for a $15 billion replenishment, noting that GCF already has roughly that much in its project pipeline. The same groups have cautioned that statements about broadening GCF’s funding base should not be allowed to distract from the clear obligations developed countries have under the Paris Agreement to provide more climate finance. The replenishment arrives just as U.S. President Donald Trump is reportedly preparing to begin the official process of withdrawing the United States from the Paris Agreement, a move which — under the rules of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change — will not actually go into effect until Nov. 2020, shortly after the U.S. presidential elections.

The World Bank’s latest “Doing Business” report is raising eyebrows. The report, which ranks countries according to how conducive they are for private enterprise and investment, was released on Wednesday, and it described Saudi Arabia as the world’s top reformer, jumping 30 places to 62nd. For some, that conclusion was hard to reconcile with the Saudi government’s human rights abuses and its alleged involvement in the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. “This is a pure measure of deregulation. This index takes a fairly extreme position on market fundamentalism,” Justin Sandefur, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development, told Reuters. The report arrives alongside news that World Bank President David Malpass will be among the attendees at the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, known as the “Davos in the desert.” According to a schedule obtained by Axios, Malpass, alongside Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank President Jin Liqun, will participate in a session about how “committed investment in multilateral action” can “lead to shared global prosperity.” Their session will be followed immediately by White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner’s remarks about the U.S. global trade agenda.

The Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is still a public health emergency, according to the World Health Organization. In the week prior to the announcement on Friday, there were 15 new confirmed cases of Ebola reported in North Kivu and Ituri provinces, marking an encouraging decline. “We must treat every case as if it's the first because every single case has the potential to spark a new and bigger outbreak,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. For that reason, health experts remain concerned about the Tanzanian government’s response to suspicions Ebola might be present in the country. Tanzania has yet to conduct a second test of its suspected Ebola cases, despite receiving that recommendation — and a strong statement of criticism — from WHO.

About the author

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    Michael Igoe

    Michael Igoe is a Senior Reporter with Devex, based in Washington, D.C. He covers U.S. foreign aid, global health, climate change, and development finance. Prior to joining Devex, Michael researched water management and climate change adaptation in post-Soviet Central Asia, where he also wrote for EurasiaNet. Michael earned his bachelor's degree from Bowdoin College, where he majored in Russian, and his master’s degree from the University of Montana, where he studied international conservation and development.