In line with the continued health and safety measures being applied in most countries in response to COVID-19, the 58th Council meeting of the GEF and the 28th LDCF/SCCF Council meeting was held virtually with agendas that covered essential and time sensitive issues only.
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 2 from economies in transition). Council Members rotate every three years or until the constituency appoints a new Member. 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.
IISD Daily Summaries
The second and final day of the first ever virtual meeting of the GEF Council ended with emotion and gratitude, as outgoing CEO and Chairperson Naoko Ishii passed the torch to her successor, Carlos Manuel Rodríguez. The 58th meeting of the GEF Council, a unique online session, also took up the draft Private Sector Engagement Strategy, requesting the Secretariat to further revise it and present the revised Strategy and an implementation plan for it at the next Council session, scheduled for December 2020.
The Council also discussed the Independent Evaluation Office’s (IEO) approach paper for the 7th Comprehensive Evaluation of the GEF (OPS7), which will inform the negotiations for the GEF-8 replenishment. The Council requested the IEO to conduct the OPS7 and to provide the evaluation reports to the replenishment process in October 2021 and to the Council in December 2021.
GEF Council Members also convened as the 28th meeting of the Council of the Least Developed Country Fund (LDCF) / Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF), and adopted an LDCF Work Program comprising eight projects, with total resources amounting to $59.59 million. It also agreed on the FY21 Administrative Budget for the Funds and the FY21 Work Program and Budget for the IEO under the LDCF/SCCF.
After considering the Summary of the Chair for the GEF Council and the LDCF/SCCF Council, incoming GEF CEO and Chairperson Carlos Manuel Rodríguez addressed the Council. He called on GEF to play a central role in defining a “green recovery” from COVID-19 and to help realize the goals of the 2030 Development Agenda. This was followed by addresses from several Members and the Civil Society Organizations (CSO) representative, welcoming Rodríguez and pledging to work closely with him.
After a video celebrating milestones in her eight years as GEF CEO and Chairperson, Naoko Ishii gave a farewell address to the Council, thanking Members for “our journey together.” After accolades and applause from Council for Ishii, Council Secretary William Ehlers closed the meeting at 11:52 AM.
Naoko Ishii, GEF CEO and Chairperson, opened the 58th meeting of the GEF Council with reflections on changes to the GEF since she became its CEO in 2012. This included adoption of the GEF 2020 Strategy, more results-oriented management, improved policies on safeguards, stakeholder engagement and gender, and a more integrated approach to addressing the drivers of environmental degradation. She also observed that the COVID-19 crisis shows the need for the GEF more than ever, since it highlights the health-environment nexus, the importance of science-based policy, the fragility of economic and social systems, the need to adopt global solutions to address global problems, and the need to restore a balance between human and natural systems.
The 58th meeting of the Council took two major decisions on its first day: it elected a new CEO and Chairperson to lead the GEF for a four-year term, and approved a work program comprising 63 projects and five programs, with total resources amounting to $645.4 million.
The new CEO and Chairperson will be Carlos Manuel Rodríguez, Minister of Environment and Energy for Costa Rica, a post he also held in 2002-2006. He also served for many years as Vice President for Global Policy at Conservation International.
The approved work program includes programs on marine biodiversity, artisanal small-scale gold mining (ASGM), wildlife, electric mobility, including the Food Systems, Land Use and Restoration (FOLUR) Impact Program, and four Non-Grant Instruments (NGIs). It will benefit 72 recipient countries, including 20 least developed countries (LDCs) and 10 small island developing states (SIDS).