GEF CEO visits Liberia Cote d'Ivoire

March 7, 2009

At the invitation of H.E. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Ms. Barbut visited Liberia from March 7 to 10, and participated as guest speaker at the International Colloquium on Women’s Empowerment, Leadership Development, International Peace and Security 2009, co-convened by the President of Liberia and the President of Finland. The Presidents of Rwanda and Senegal were among the guests at the Colloquium that attracted women from around the world.

At the colloquium the CEO delivered a key note speech that focuses on GEF’s effort and full commitment at improving its efforts in highlighting the link between gender equality and environmental sustainability, including in the climate change arena. She presented the GEF’s new publication: “Mainstreaming Gender at the GEF” that gives account of the scope, content and depth of gender mainstreaming in GEF projects.

Besides her participation in the Colloquium, the CEO participated in several meetings.

She paid a courtesy call on the President of Liberia. In the meeting they discussed specific issues such as forest management, coastal zone’s management and capacity building. The Head of State and the CEO recognized the dilemma Liberia and other countries sharing the “Mano River” basin face, in striking a good balance between the use of forest products to fund their reconstruction effort on one hand and on the other the need to work toward preserving their country’s vital forest ecosystems. The President indicated her desire to pursue effort to protect Liberia’s forest. She agreed with the CEO that the GEF should submit to her Government a proposal to this end. Also, the President expressed willingness to work with her peers from countries sharing the Mano River to put in place a mechanism for the integrated management of this ecosystem. On the coastal management issue, the CEO informed the President of a new GEF project which she had just approved.

During the meetings with the President and various stakeholders in Liberia, the CEO presented GEF’s recent portfolio of projects in Liberia. She also gave an overview of the progress recently made at the GEF, outlining the steps being taken and her strategy and emphasizing the importance of developing country’s support towards a successful fifth replenishment of the GEF.

Ms. Barbut also held working sessions with the GEF Steering Committee, the World Bank Resident Representative and a representative of UNDP. In this opportunity the CEO congratulated them on their effort and informed them of recent developments at the GEF. She outlined her assessment and expectations regarding the implementation of GEF projects in Liberia and talked about future direction for the GEF. Participants lauded in particular the initiation of the Small Grant Programme in Liberia.

At the margins of the colloquium, the CEO met also with H.E. Maitre Abdoulaye Wade, President of Senegal.


Ms Barbut receives a brief by the EPA’s Executive Director Ben Donnie, while she visits the EPA’s Water Testing Lab

Ms Barbut with EPA’s Library employees




Cote d’Ivoire

From Liberia the CEO travelled to Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire on March 10 to13. There, she paid another courtesy call on H.E. Laurent Gbagbo, President of the Republic. She held meetings with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Environment and the Director of Cabinet of the Ministry of Finance (the Minister was out of the country). She also had working sessions with the CEO and management of the Banque National d’Investissement, the host of the GEF Operational Focal Point, civil society organizations and representatives of implementing agencies. She also visited a site of a project.

Three main issues were the subject of discussion with the President and his Government representatives; (1) a briefing on the GEF by the CEO, (2) Cote d’Ivoire in the GEF and the need for its effective participation in international negotiations, including those on climate change, and (3) GEF’s support to Cote d’Ivoire, specifically in the areas of forest and coastal management and waste management.

In her briefing to the President and the Ministers on the GEF, the CEO praised Cote d’Ivoire for having chosen at the inception of the GEF to be a donor, making it one of the very few among developing countries. She gave an account of her effort to improve the GEF and the process and planning for its fifth replenishment, including the upcoming donor meeting in Paris, March 17-18, 2009.

The President and the CEO shared their perspectives on the status of the GEF in the context of the post Kyoto institutional architecture that is under discussion in the context of the climate change negotiations. They concurred on the need to strengthen the role of the GEF. They also agreed on the crucial scope and wide ranging implications of an agreement in Copenhagen, especially for countries such as Cote d’Ivoire. Mindful that matters under discussions are far more complex than merely technical environmental issues, they discussed the need for Cote d’Ivoire and other African countries to ensure that seasoned diplomats are part of their delegations at the negotiations. This issue as well as Cote d’Ivoire’s contribution to and participation in the GEF featured prominently in the discussions the CEO held with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Environment, the head of the BNI and other stakeholders.

On GEF support to Cote d’Ivoire, the CEO provided an overview of the portfolio of projects in the country. She regretted the sharp reduction in the number of projects in recent years due to the crisis the country is experiencing. She reassured Ivorian Authorities of her expectations to see significant increase in resources for Cote d’Ivoire during GEF-5 as the country regains gradually it stability. The authorities identified sustainable management of forest, waste management and coastal zone management as their priorities. The Minister of Environment expressed particular interest in the CEO’s proposal to have Cote d’Ivoire work on an integrated programme with the countries sharing the Mano River Basin.

The meeting with civil society organizations and agency representatives was an opportunity for the CEO to learn more about their activities, brief them on her reforms and future direction for the GEF and the Small Grant Programme as well as the GEF-5 replenishment process. The CEO visited a CSO exhibition, a coastal erosion site in Assignie located two hours outside of the city of Abidjan and an energy efficient stove project in Treichville that is funded by the Small Grant Programme.


Courtesy call on the President of Cote d’Ivoire: Ms.Barbut with H.E. President Laurent Gbagbo