Monday, December 12, 2011

FYI Questions & Answers About Norwegian Funding

Did the Bottomlining Team manage the money?

No. Since the BL Team and YOUNGO are not NGOs themselves, we cannot manage the money directly or make payments. The money was allocated by the Norwegian government to the UNFCCC Secretariat (majority of the money) and the YOUNGO/CAN organization JVE (minority of the money, about US$66000 - sixty-six thousand). JVE agreed to and was responsible for managing the money, and they also employed a travel agency to make the travel arrangements for the Global South Youth. Jean Paul sent information about this funding, including detailed budgets, to UNFCCC_youth prior to COP. The BL Team did not have any direct control of the money and did not personally make any payments, nor did it directly receive any of the money. JVE received a service fee of a couple of thousand dollars to pay for their employees and accountants who manage the money, but otherwise they did not directly benefit from the funding.

The BL Team requested and received updates from time to time from JVE about how different parts of the money were being spent, and took the responsibility for doing as best as the Team could to ensure that all of the money was spent as allocated from the Norwegian government. JVE and the Secretariat also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU - basically a funding contract) that outlined their responsibilities and held them accountable for disbursing their portion of the funding. The BL Team also understands that the Secretariat will be auditing JVE's administration of their portion of the money, as a general condition of the hosting of the money. The BL Team cannot directly audit this money the way the Secretariat can, but it has been following up with all of the people who were supposed to receive money from JVE to ensure that they actually got what they were owed. This process is ongoing since some positions like Report Writer and Logistics Coordinator have not yet finished their work and thus wouldn't be paid yet. Also, there was a little money left over from COY, which will be spent to provide food and possibly a reservation payment for the YOUNGO Debrief this Saturday.

Other groups within YOUNGO spent some of this money. For example, the COY team handled money that was allocated for COY, not the BL Team. The Secretariat managed themselves all of the money that they received for YOUNGO, such as the money for the Virtual Participation Room, and Sarah's payment for helping at the UN Youth Booth. The BL Team did not see or have direct control over any of the money that the Secretariat received. Those were the terms of the Norwegian funding and YOUNGO did not have any room to edit them.

Some people were selected for the funding but they couldn't come. What happened to the money for them?

The short answer is that all of the money allocated for Global South Youth funding has been spent only on Global South Youth funding.

The Norwegian government allocated an average of US$2000 (two thousand United States dollars) for each of 15 people to come, but the actual number of people who needed to be selected was left somewhat open so that if some plane tickets were more expensive fewer people could be selected to stay within budget, or if the tickets were less expensive than US$2000 some extra people could come.

Unfortunately, the tickets for just the youth who didn't have to drop out (the ones who ultimately came and who were announced in the email) were very expensive on average, in some cases as much as US$3800. Some tickets were of course under the budget, but overall the amount of money provided by the Norwegian government was not enough to cover the tickets for everyone who came, although in some cases this was not determined until very close to COY, due to people's shifting travel schedules and some very rapid changes by the airlines in the prices for certain flight, for people who had already been told that they were selected and were making arrangements to come. JVE also received the money quite late in the process, which made it harder for them to find less expensive flights.

So, the entire budget for Global South Youth travel was spent. In fact, more than the overall budget for the entire travel for the Global South Youth was spent, because some tickets had to be purchased separately from the travel agency bookings. Additionally, there was no significant extra money available in other parts of the budget from the Norwegian government. In order to help address this overbudgeting, SustainUS agreed to provide up to US$2000 to help cover the funding for Lauren's Focal Point travel, because Focal Point travel was also provided in the Norwegian grant. Since this money was no longer needed for her travel, more money could be allocated to the Global South youth funding to help restore the balance between costs and grant money.

Unfortunately, YOUNGO did not have any control over the time that it took for the Norwegian government to decide on the funding, for the Secretariat to sort out its involvement in the funding, for JVE to agree to the Memorandum, and for JVE to receive the money and start spending it. This is in spite of the fact that Johanne, for the Fundraising Working Group, submitted the most recent version of the grant to the Norwegian government in May. The Fundraising Working Group will evaluate ways to submit funding applications even earlier, and to work with funders more closely, to try to ensure that money is allocated earlier and perhaps tickets for future Global South Youth who are funded can be purchased earlier and for less money, so more youth can come.

What is the status of the money the Secretariat has?
The BL Team has not received an update recently about the Secretariat's money, but the BL Team will request this from the Secretariat and inform YOUNGO as soon as it has some numbers to share. In general, though, the BL Team's understanding is that this money has mostly or entirely been spent, since the Secretariat has done all of the things that it it was supposed to do under the grant - briefings, Intergenerational Inquiry, UN Youth Booth, hiring of Sarah Marchildon as liaison from the Secretariat on Norwegian-funded activities, etc. Like JVE, the Secretariat was also allocated some of the money for administrative fees and administrative staff such as accountants. Unfortunately, there is no way for YOUNGO to directly audit the Secretariat's expenditure of their portion of the money, but it will update YOUNGO as it receives further information on their expenditures.

So, to the best of the BL Team's current understanding, all or nearly all of the money has been spent on the things it was supposed to be spent on, but since COP is not over yet, the Team does not have a full accounting.

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