November 2009

The Greenline - Focus on Biodiversity

Letter from the CEO



Monique Barbut
GEF CEO & Chairperson

Dear Colleagues,

One of the key lessons we have learned during the replenishment process is that our ultimate success will depend on the relationship the GEF has with its partners: public sector, businesses and civil society deserve an equal and important role in this institution.

And it has been my experience over the past three years that there is no weakest link in this network: as we look back on the reforms we have made and the results we have accomplished each of our partners has been a change agent. So as we move closer to the finish line I want to mention a few highlights of what we have accomplished together:

  • We are far more efficient. The time it takes for a full project to get endorsed is now 12 months instead of 44.

  • We are more transparent. Since December 2007, the entire world can see the project portfolio of the GEF via the Country Profile Page on the GEF website. Moreover, the Operational Focal Points have also been able to access the details of all their projects that are under processing, so that they can monitor progress to approval. The next step is to give access to the full database in the GEF to the Operational Focal Points so that they can track the status of the portfolio in all focal areas.

These operational successes have translated into environmental benefits:

  • GEF financing has provided a key catalyst to the achievement of the target of 10% of the world’s terrestrial areas under protection (2,302 protected areas, 634 million hectares). The GEF has been the largest financier of forests with $1.5 billion granted to forest initiatives, supplemented by more than $4.5 billion in co-financing.

  • In the climate change arena, 2.5 billion tons of CO2 have been avoided because of GEF projects —and at the right price. Overall, GEF climate change mitigation projects are securing reductions of CO2 at about $ 1.62/tCO2, which compares favorably to, for example, CDM market prices for primary CERs (future delivery), which range from $7.20 to $11.50/tCO2.

  • GEF projects have also led to the transfer of more than 30 environmentally sound technologies.

  • Finally, GEF’s work will lead to the environmentally-sound disposal of at least 35,000 tons of PCB-related waste—along with 15,000 tons of obsolete pesticides.

  • And now through our collective efforts, we have a system that can be easily ramped up to keep up with the demands of an ambitious replenishment. Part of our vision for GEF-5 is an expanded role for civil society and business. It makes sense to further broaden the partnership to make fuller use of all of its talent and energy.

These changes will allow the GEF to program a higher level of resources even more effectively in GEF-5.

The replenishment discussions have progressed along two main threads: first, how we can further strengthen the GEF partnership; and, second, how the partnership can deliver more benefits for its clients effectively and efficiently. The discussions on both these points are well advanced; we are close to consensus.

On the policy front, GEF-5 will see the beginning of support to countries to prepare on a voluntary basis national GEF business plans that could provide a framework for GEF financing. I should stress that the plans are not mandatory. This recommendation emerges from the OPS4 finding that country ownership is higher where country strategic frameworks provide a roadmap for GEF-financed activities.

There are also proposals to widen the GEF partnership by providing access to additional qualified entities; refine the approach to programs, and streamline the project cycle; improving the flexibility of the resource allocation system; enhancing the engagement with the private sector; implementing the GEF results-based management framework; and a proposal to enhance engagement with civil society.

Let me talk more about this last point. We see the role of CSOs as central to our work, and to our future. We envision CSOs as an integral part of the national GEF steering committees that will guide the preparation of the national GEF business plans. The expanded constituency workshops that are being proposed will include financing for the participation of a representative of civil society in each country delegation. We hope this will allow a better dissemination and understanding of GEF policies and will provide opportunities for exchanges across boundaries within each group.

In this manner there will be a much more direct way to actively participate in the decisions taken on how best to use GEF resources to implement national environmental strategies; this reform will also ensure that the civil society will have a much more active role in project execution.

Another very important project supported by the GEF that relates to Civil Society is the Development Marketplace. The Development Marketplace is a competitive grant program that identifies and funds innovative, early-stage development projects with high potential for impact and replication. This year there were more than 1,700 entries and the focus is on Climate Adaptation –$4 million in small grants was awarded to social entrepreneurs from 50 countries.

36th Council Meeting

I also am pleased to announce that an innovative new financial framework was among the decisions approved at the 36th meeting of Council, held in Washington DC, from November 10- 12.

In its decision on the System for a Transparent Allocation of Resources (STAR), the Council agreed that the STAR for the fifth replenishment of resources of the GEF Trust Fund (GEF-5) would be applied to the focal areas of biodiversity, climate change, and land degradation.

The design of the STAR offers significant improvements over the current system (Resource Allocation Framework otherwise known as RAF); it will also greatly strengthen country ownership of GEF programs by providing greater predictability of GEF resources for developing countries, together with greater flexibility in programming. With the new system, all countries are set to receive at the minimum US$2 million for climate change, $1.5 million for biodiversity, and $0.5 million for land degradation.

This means that the minimum a country can receive is $4 million during the next replenishment period; they will further gain more latitude on programming resources. Similarly the maximum a country may get is $300 million for the above mentioned focal areas.

The STAR was not the only decision point for this Council meeting. We also decided on execution arrangements for the SGP and on a policy for upgrading countries within the program.

SGP as you know is especially useful for small communities and we aim to have an expanded assignment from the core fund. Also, the upgrading of mature country programs will free core fund resources for starting up new programs thus allowing the SGP to cover most interested countries.

GEF-5 Replenishment update

I am happy to report that the participants are close to a final agreement on the focal area and cross-cutting strategies, including a program on sustainable forest management. Three financing scenarios, ranging from $4.5 billion to $6.5 billion are under discussion – these are pproximately 50% to 100% increases over GEF-4.

We are aiming to complete the replenishment process early next year and be ready to commence GEF-5 in July 2010. I look forward to your support through the coming months. Indeed, I am encouraged that with your help we will be able to take the GEF to a new level of service to our clients; they need us more than ever to help address global and local environmental challenges.



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Editor: Patrizia Cocca
Contributing Editor: John Wickham
Contributing Writers: Mohamed I Bakarr, J. Quintana, F. Jalfim, L. C. Mattos, I. Cossio, M. Seely, N Gaseb, P Klintenberg, B Kruger, Zhihong Zhang, Heitor Matallo, Hakan Marstorp, Sara Minelli