GTI Critiques Access Proposal by Climate Change Fund

21 June 2013

The Global Transparency Initiative has urged the Green Climate Fund (GCF), an international lending body, to narrow the exemptions in a proposed access to information policy.

The GCF, which promotes compliance with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, has proposing an information disclosure policy, Information Disclosure, including Webcasting. The GCF Board will discuss this issue during a meeting June 25-28 in Korea. 

“The GTI welcomes the fact that the background document calls on the GCF Board to adopt a strong openness policy,” said Toby Mendel, the Executive Director of the Centre for Law and Democracy. CLD, a nongovernmental organization based in Halifax, Canada, is a member of the GTI, an international group of civil society organizations advocating for more transparency at international financial institutions (IFIs).

While praising some elements of the proposed policy, the GTI Note on Better International Practices on Access to Information says it contains some of the shortcomings of disclosure policies at other IFIs. “We specifically call on the GCF to ensure that the policy has a narrow regime of exceptions which is limited in scope to what is needed to protect legitimate interests against harm.

 The June 12 GTI Note states in part:

Although IFI access to information policies have become more robust and better aligned with international standards (and national laws) in recent years, the regime of exceptions is one area where they still fall short of meeting these standards. Two key problems were highlighted in the 2012 Centre for Law and Democracy publication, Openness Policies of the International Financial Institutions: Failing to Make the Grade with Exceptions, namely exceptions to protect internal deliberative documents and exceptions to protect third party information.

Unfortunately, these weaknesses are both reflected in the GCF Policy Paper. It is accepted that it is legitimate to protect the free and frank exchange of information internally, and to avoid premature disclosure of policies where this would undermine their success. The list of possible exceptions provided at para. 19 of the Policy Paper, however, goes far beyond this, referring to exceptions for corporate administrative information, deliberative information, Board member communications and even “internal documents”, defined circularly as documents “not intended for public circulation”. These sorts of exceptions are not found in better practice national laws. Furthermore, they have proven problematical and susceptible of abuse at IFIs which have included them in their policies.

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ABOUT IFTI WATCH

In this column, Washington, D.C.-based journalist Toby J. McIntosh reports on the latest developments in information disclosure in International Financial and Trade Institutions (IFTI).
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