As requested by a number of Council members and in line with the continued health and safety measures being applied in most countries in response to COVID-19, the 63rd Council meeting of the GEF and the 33rd LDCF/SCCF Council meetings will be held virtually with a full agenda.

The Council, the GEF's main governing body, comprises 32 members appointed by constituencies of GEF member countries (14 from developed countries, 16 from developing countries, and two from economies in transition). Council members rotate at different intervals determined by each constituency. The Council, which meets twice annually, develops, adopts and evaluates the operational policies and programs for GEF-financed activities. It also reviews and approves the work program (projects submitted for approval), making decisions by consensus.

For a schedule of proceedings, please see the Provisional Timetable.

IISD Council Coverage

IISD Earth Negotiations Bulletin will provide event coverage with daily summaries, photos, and videos. The summary for each day will be added below, along with short summary videos produced by IISD ENB.

On Wednesday, the 63rd meeting GEF Council heard a presentation on the GEF Blended Finance Program and the Policy Update for Non-Grant Instruments (NGI), which highlighted innovations to mobilize private sector involvement in GEF activities, such as a funding window to provide technical assistance to projects addressing frontier areas.  

Presenting the Blended Finance Program and NGI Policy Update, Avril Benchimol, GEF Secretariat, also outlined several new financial instruments, including some aimed at de-risking private investments in Small Island Developing States and Least Developed Countries.

Rosina Bierbaum, Chair, Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel (STAP), presented the Report of the Chairperson of the STAP, discussing STAP’s work to help streamline the GEF project cycle, noting a new, simpler Project Identification Form (PIF) template, a new set of STAP screening guidelines, and a new STAP screening template. She reviewed the reports the STAP will submit to the next GEF Assembly, noting seven recommendations:

  • develop a clear risk framework;
  • create an explicit and more systematic strategy for innovation;
  • establish a GEF-wide strategy and implementation plan to address policy coherence across all operational levels;
  • identify which co-benefits of GEF investments need to be tracked and a system to report on them;
  • establish a knowledge management and learning system;
  • include youth and other marginalized groups, such as Indigenous Peoples, in the design and implementation of projects; and
  • prioritize the GEF’s engagement in external partnerships which can have a catalytic effect in transforming global economic systems.

Juha Uitto, Director of the GEF Independent Evaluation Office (IEO), presented the IEO’s Review of the GEF Management Action Record. He explained the aim was to: understand the principal themes for recommendations in IEO evaluations and the factors that affect the level of adoption and follow-up of IEO evaluation recommendations; and provide early feedback on management responses to the IEO’s evaluations since the transition to a revised Management Action Record process in 2021.

Uitto highlighted two recommendations from the Review:

  • GEF management should ensure that the action plan included in its management response lists specific actions with timelines where appropriate; and 
  • the GEF should improve the Management Action Record process and reporting through a more participatory approach involving GEF agencies, where relevant, and develop a suitable platform for tracking the implementation of action plans. 

Sonja Teelucksingh, GEF Secretariat, said the Secretariat agrees with both recommendations. She reported that, applicable immediately, the Secretariat will clearly state the level of agreement with each recommendation of IEO Evaluations as follows: “The GEF Secretariat agrees/partially agrees/rejects this recommendation.” On the second recommendation, she said where recommendations are clearly directed towards GEF agencies in particular, the Secretariat will explore ways to consult with the agencies to incorporate their input in the preparation of the relevant management response, action plans and timelines.

William Ernest Ehlers, GEF Secretariat, presented the Amendments to the Instrument for the Establishment of the Restructured GEF that were prepared by the Council’s Ad Hoc Working Group on Governance. He reported the proposed amendments and additional adjustments by the Secretariat, its legal advisor, the Trustee and the GEF coordinators of the implementing agencies. Council members agreed to recommend that the upcoming GEF Assembly amend the text of the GEF Instrument as proposed.

Council members also heard an update about arrangements for the next GEF Assembly taking place in Vancouver, Canada in 2023, with the venue and exact dates expected to be finalized within the next few weeks. 



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On the second day of the 63rd meeting, the Global Environment Facility Council reviewed and approved the first work program of the 8th replenishment of the GEF (GEF-8), which comprises eight projects and programs with total resources amounting to $64.7 million, representing 1.3% of the total GEF-8 funds.

Claude Gascon, GEF Secretariat, presented on “The GEF-8 Work Program” noting its modest size is due to countries initiating their internal planning processes for GEF-8 investments. He highlighted that the proposed work program:

  • allocates, among others, 46% of funds to the biodiversity focal area and 32.1% to chemicals and waste; and
  • benefits 37 recipient countries, including nine Least Developed Countries and 12 Small Islands Developing States.

Some Council members called for a more balanced allocation of resources across core areas and regions, and others queried why only four of the 18 GEF agencies are represented in the work program. The Secretariat cautioned that this work program is only the first under GEF-8 and its size and the concentration of agencies should not be considered as representative of GEF-8, underlining that more projects and programs from a variety of regions and covering the core areas in a more balanced way will be adopted in the near future.

The Council also considered the Report on Lead Agency Selection Process for the Integrated Programs (IPs), covering the selection of leads and co-leads for the implementation of 11 IPs under GEF-8 to tackle the drivers of environmental degradation and advance systems transformation through an integrated approach. Mohamed Bakarr, GEF Secretariat, detailed the selection process and reported on the final selection of the leads and co-leads for 10 of the 11 IPs, noting that the selection of leads for the Clean and Healthy Oceans IP is still underway. Council members welcomed the transparency of the process and the report, and discussed the selections. Some Council members requested that the Secretariat share information from the agencies’ proposals on their co-leading arrangements, roles, responsibilities, accountability and ways to ensure coherence across the entire program. After bilateral consultations, the GEF Secretariat reported that a document summarizing the concepts for each IP and the role of co-leading agencies will be shared in early January 2023, together with the call for expressions of interest to be launched for countries to participate in the IPs. The Council subsequently endorsed the selection of IP leads and co-leads.

Lastly on Tuesday, the Council considered the Third-Party Review of Agency Compliance with GEF Minimum Standards, with a presentation by Jonathan Caldicott, GEF Secretariat, who reported that the review determined that all 18 GEF agencies were found to be in overall compliance, with a few minor exceptions. He said the proposed remedies for partial compliance are as contained in GEF policies and require developing action plans to address partial compliance. He added that three agencies are still in the process of self-assessment and review, with expected completion within the next few weeks.

Regarding the UN Development Programme (UNDP) second self-assessment and third-party review, he reported that these had found UNDP in full compliance with GEF policies.

Following review of the report and findings, the Council, among other things:

  • requested the GEF agencies found not to be fully compliant in all components to prepare time-bound Action Plans to address any gaps identified by the Review; and
  • decided that the additional requirements related to UNDP should continue to be reviewed after Council has considered the additional UNDP self-assessment and review planned for 2023.



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The 63rd meeting of the Global Environment Facility Council opened on Monday, November 28, 2022. GEF CEO and Chairperson Carlos Manuel Rodríguez expressed his sorrow at the loss in August 2022, of Gustavo Fonseca, GEF’s long-standing Director of Programs. Council members watched a tribute video in remembrance of Fonseca highlighting some of his contributions to environmental protection, as well as his dedication to his family and friends.

Rodríguez emphasized the need for increased efforts to address environmental challenges, given current and ongoing global economic and social hardship. He reflected on the Sharm El-Sheikh UN Climate Change Conference, which took place earlier this month, and highlighted the role of young leaders and civil society in addressing the climate change challenge. Rodríguez lamented that lack of agreement on a fossil fuel phaseout means possibly moving the world away from the 1.5°C global temperature goal, but noted some positive achievements such as the decision to establish a fund for addressing loss and damage. He said the GEF will continue to support countries to deliver on their nationally determined contributions and climate actions.

On the upcoming Fifteenth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP15), the GEF CEO called for an ambitious post-2020 biodiversity framework. He noted the GEF is committed to working with multiple stakeholders during GEF-8 replenishment, to achieve transformative action on biodiversity protection.

Ambassador Ali’ioaiga Feturi Elisaia, Samoa and GEF Council Elected Co-chair for 2022, said the GEF plays a key role in implementing issues on the ground that may not be fully addressed at the international negotiations. He noted the quick endorsement of the GEF-8 replenishment demonstrates confidence in what the GEF can achieve on the ground.

Many Council members took the floor to pay homage to Gustavo Fonseca, appreciating his lasting impact on the GEF’s work, and expressing their condolences to his family and the environmental community, for his loss.

The Council then considered the following items: the GEF monitoring report 2022; the Country Engagement Strategy Implementation Arrangements for GEF-8; and GEF Small Grants Programme 2.0 Implementation Arrangements for GEF-8.

Paola Ridolfi, GEF Secretariat, presented the GEF Monitoring Report 2022, highlighting it implements the GEF-8 Results Measurement Framework. Many Council members welcomed the report, appreciating, inter alia, the focus on results. Several called for clarification on issues relating to co-financing, including the level of private sector engagement and the challenges in obtaining co-financing. Some members expressed concern at the low number of mid-term reviews submitted by GEF-financed projects and others supported further diversification of implementing agencies.

Claude Gascon, GEF Secretariat, introduced the Country Engagement Strategy Implementation Arrangements for GEF-8, noting the proposed strategy envisions funding of $27 million. Following discussions, the Council approved the proposal, including the establishment of the Gustavo Fonseca Youth Conservation Leadership Program.

Ridolfi introduced the GEF Small Grants Programme 2.0 Implementation Arrangements for GEF-8, noting it aligns closely with the renewed ambition, size, and objectives for SGP 2.0 endorsed by Council members, while incorporating findings and lessons learned from the recent SGP evaluation. The Council endorsed the proposed arrangements.



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Additional Events

GEF Consultations with Civil Society on Global Environmental Conventions
Wednesday, November 23 | 7:00-10:00 am EST

Held in advance of the 63rd GEF Council meeting, this event aimed to place a spotlight on civil society engagement with multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) and gather insights from diverse youth and youth-led civil society, women groups, and Indigenous Peoples and local community organizations on their priorities and interests.

33rd LDCF/SCCF Council Meeting
Friday, December 2

Working Documents
Number Title Document Summary Documents
GEF/C.63/01 Provisional Agenda
GEF/C.63/02 Annotated Provisional Agenda
GEF/C.63/03 The GEF Monitoring Report 2022
GEF/C.63/04 Work Program for the GEF Trust Fund
GEF/C.63/05 Country Engagement Strategy Implementation Arrangements for GEF-8
GEF/C.63/06/Rev.01 GEF Small Grants Programme 2.0 Implementation Arrangements for GEF-8
GEF/C.63/07 Report on Lead Agency Selection Process for the Integrated Programs
GEF/C.63/08 Relations with Conventions and Other International Institutions
GEF/C.63/09/Rev.01 Third Party Review of Agency Compliance with GEF Minimum Standards
GEF/C.63/10 Proposed framework for GEF’s role in a financial mechanism for the internationally legally binding instrument under negotiation under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the Conservation and Sustainable use of Marine Biological Diversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ
GEF/C.63/11 Amendments to the Instrument of the Establishment of the restructured GEF
GEF/C.63/12 GEF Blended Finance Global Program and NGI Policy Update
GEF/C.63/13 Management Response to the Review of the GEF Management Action Record
GEF/C.63/14 Management Response: Evaluation of the Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on GEF Activities
IEO Working Documents
Number Title Document Summary Documents
GEF/E/C.63/01 Review of the GEF Management Action Record (MAR)
GEF/E/C.63/02 Evaluation of the Effects of the Covid-19 Pandemic on GEF Activities
IEO Information Documents
Number Title Document Summary Documents
GEF/E/C.63/Inf.01 Promoting Integration of Environmental Impact Into Evaluations in the UN System

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