Exclusive-Climate Investment Funds appoints Tariye Gbadegesin as CEO

By Simon Jessop and Valerie Volcovici

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The $11 billion multilateral lender Climate Investment Funds, which works with the World Bank and others to accelerate investment in the developing world, has appointed Tariye Gbadegesin as its new chief executive, the first African to take the helm.

Gbadegesin, a dual U.S. and Nigerian national, was appointed in the week the COP28 climate talks kick off. Development banks have been criticized for being led by people born and based in the Global North.

Gbadegesin takes up her role in March 2024. She has over 20 years experience in investing in developing economies and is currently chief executive of ARM Harith Infrastructure Investments, a pan-African infrastructure fund.

She replaces Mafalda Duarte, who left in July 2023 to lead the Green Climate Fund. Luis Tineo, interim CEO, will lead CIF until March, 2024.

“Developing countries are at the forefront of the climate crisis, and we will only meet this decisive moment by working together to scale climate finance where it is needed most,” Gbadegesin said in a statement.

“This is an exciting time for the global community, as we seek to build a multilateral system fit for purpose to keep 1.5C alive while lifting millions out of poverty.”

The CIF has been involved in financing the retirement of coal-fired power plants in middle-income nations, such as South Africa and Indonesia through so-called Just Energy Transition Partnerships, allocating $1 billion to the programme.

Gbadegesin is also co-chair of the Voluntary Carbon Markets Integrity Initiative (VCMI) and has worked at the International Monetary Fund, consultants Boston Consulting Group and PwC and the Africa Finance Corp.

“Tariye is a trailblazer, a strategic thinker and relationship-builder with deep expertise, knowledge and experience in climate finance,” said CIF Trust Fund Committee Co-Chairs, Bob Natifu and Edward Webber.

Among the largest multi-lateral climate funds in the world, CIF offers projects highly concessional capital that can leverage development bank and private sector money to fund low carbon, climate-resilient development.

Set up in 2008, the group has mobilised more than $64 billion in additional financing for projects in more than 70 countries, including flagship efforts to retire coal-fired power plants early in countries including Indonesia.

As well as the World Bank Group, including the International Finance Corp, CIF invests through the African Development Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the European Development Bank, and the Inter-American Development Bank.

Gbadegesin will take over the fund after CIF’s capitalization grew by over 35% and launched several strategic initiatives under Duarte’s tenure.

(Reporting by Simon Jessop and Valerie Volcovici; Editing by David Gregorio)