Green Climate Fund appoints new head

Former Climate Investment Funds CEO Mafalda Duarte takes over from Yannick Glemarec as executive director. The Portuguese national has a brief to speed up disbursement of funds to developing countries.

Mafalda Duarte, Green Climate Fund
Mafalda Duarte was previously CEO of the $11 billion Climate Investment Funds, one of the world’s largest multilateral funds for climate action in developing countries. Image: Green Climate Fund

The Green Climate Fund (GCF), which was set up more than a decade ago to help emerging economies adapt to climate change, has appointed Mafalda Duarte as executive director.

Duarte will take over from Yannick Glemarec, whose four-year term leading the South Korea-headquartered organisation has ended. GCF’s deputy executive director, Henry Gonzalez, will serve as ED until Duarte starts in her role.

GFC was established in 2010 for industrialised countries to jointly mobilise US$100 billion per year to support climate-vulnerable poorer nations. It is part of the financial mechanism of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and serves the Paris Agreement.

Duarte joins with a brief to make the fund more effective and efficient as it looks to increase the financial resources provided to developing countries. According to GCF’s spending dashboard, the fund has committed US$11.4 billion to date and mobilised US$42.8 billion, but only US$3.1 billion has been disbursed.

In order to cope with the effects of climate breakdown, poor countries will need about US$2 trillion annually by 2030, a study published around the COP27 climate talks in November found. A later study found that 0.4 per cent of all capital available to financiers is going into climate adaptation projects in climate-vulnerable lower income countries.

Duarte, a Portuguese national, was previously chief executive of Climate Investment Funds (CIF), a US$11 billion multilateral fund for climate action in developing countries.

After she joined CIF in 2014, she oversaw investment in clean energy projects in 72 low and middle-income countries, including South America’s first geothermal plant. 

Before CIF, Mafalda held senior roles at the African Development Bank and the World Bank. 

GCF co-chair Victoria Gunderson commented said that Duarte was selected after a highly competitive international recruitment process. “The board was impressed with her vision and drive. Her experience in managing climate funds will be crucial for GCF as we continue to grow our highly catalytic climate finance portfolio.”

Speaking after the announcement, Duarte said she looked forward to helping to strengthen GCF and speed up its delivery of climate investments.

“Developing countries are on the frontlines of the climate crisis. They can count on my resolve to support their climate aspirations in pursuit of a better climate future for all,” she said.

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