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In line with the continued health and safety measures being applied in most countries in response to COVID-19, the 61st Council meeting of the GEF and the 31st 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.

IISD Council Coverage

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The second day of the 61st meeting of the GEF Council began with an executive session during which Council members discussed the agenda items related to the UN Development Programme (UNDP). The Council members will continue their discussion on these items on Wednesday. The GEF Council also discussed the share of GEF financing in agencies' portfolios and the seventh comprehensive evaluation of GEF results and performance. 

Reporting on the Share of GEF Financing in Agencies’ Portfolio

On the share of GEF financing in agencies’ portfolios, Francoise Clottes, GEF Secretariat, explained that two issues have been discussed with regard to this issue: relative levels of GEF financing in each GEF agency’s overall operations, and concentration of GEF funding for each implementing agency. Clottes said the report addresses the former issue and found that for all agencies, the level of GEF financing in their overall operations is well below the 30% ceiling. As a result, she said, the proposed decision does not recommend additional measures beyond light monitoring of the issue going forward.

During the discussion, Council members inquired about the distinction between agency focus and share of GEF funding and highlighted the need to increase the number of agencies that can be considered for project funding. Several stressed that countries must retain the ability to choose the agencies that will implement their GEF projects.

The Council adopted the draft decision that calls for the Secretariat to monitor this issue and submit a recommendation to Council if it is determined that additional measures are warranted in the future.

Seventh Comprehensive Evaluation of the GEF

On the agenda item titled, “Working Toward A Greener Global Recovery - Executive Summary of OPS7,” Council members considered the report prepared by the Independent Evaluation Office of the GEF. The report, which was prepared to inform GEF-8, summarizes the seventh comprehensive evaluation of GEF results and performance and is organized along three themes: what works in the GEF, how things work in the GEF, and why things work in the GEF. GEF management provided a response to the report, following which Council members offered questions and comments.

Juha Ilari Uitto, Director, GEF Independent Evaluation Office, outlined the eight conclusions from the evaluation, including the continuing relevance of the GEF, and the GEF’s strong performance record, with 80% of projects rated as satisfactory on outcomes and 68% on sustainability.

Many speakers emphasized the value of keeping the GEF as a learning institution and emphasized the need for responsive management. They called for strengthening country ownership and the country support program in particular, including through support of the operational focal points. The need for an overall country engagement strategy was also mentioned.

Some speakers noted the need to close the gap between having good policies on paper and implementing them effectively. Several speakers supported streamlining the application process while providing a robust review of project design.

Several supported creating a specific window that would have more tolerance of risk. Others asked how the GEF defined an acceptable level of risk. A few speakers noted the relevance of peace and security concerns for this discussion.

Several speakers requested a document that outlines all steps GEF management will take in response to the evaluation report. Many speakers welcomed a GEF focus on the least developed countries and small island developing states.

The second day concluded at 12:00 noon. Discussions on Wednesday, 8 December, are expected to include the report of the Chairperson of the STAP and relations with conventions and other international institutions.

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Carlos Manuel Rodríguez, GEF CEO and Chairperson, opened the 61st meeting of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Council on Monday, 6 December. He underscored that this is one of the most important Council meetings, particularly for the next generation. He also highlighted that the GEF is celebrating its 30th anniversary of providing support for environmental action worldwide.

Rodríguez noted that: the announcements and decisions made at the Glasgow Climate Change Conference kept the 1.5°C temperature goal “on life support,” and nature was “finally integrated into climate issues”; the pandemic is still severely impacting many parts of the world; and the floods, fires, and droughts we are seeing around the world are pushing the Earth beyond its natural limits.

Reflecting on the GEF CSO Consultation held on 3 December, Rodríguez highlighted youth participants’ message to the GEF that “we must deliver on our promises.” He said GEF-7 implementation and the Work Program to be presented to the Council demonstrate the GEF’s commitment to tackle environmental challenges in an integrated way, and noted many projects will contribute to blue and green recovery from the pandemic.

He said the GEF-8 replenishment must deliver solutions for the post-pandemic era, and noted that it will enable the GEF to scale up the impact of its initiatives in an effective and efficient way. Emphasizing the importance of the next ten years, Rodríguez stressed that the environmental crises the world is facing, such as climate change, land degradation, and ocean pollution, must be addressed together, not one at a time, and with everyone at the table, in order to achieve a nature-positive, carbon-neutral, and pollution-free world.

GEF Council Co-Chair Mette Møglestue, Norway, highlighted the GEF’s 30-year anniversary and underlined the need to reflect on the GEF’s many achievements as we look into the future.

Co-Chair Møglestue presided over the adoption of the agenda and an initial discussion of the agenda item on the UN Development Programme (UNDP) third-party review of UNDP’s compliance with GEF minimum fiduciary standards. On this agenda item, representatives from the GEF Secretariat, UNDP, and the independent reviewer presented on progress to date. Council Members discussed the recommendation for a follow-up report and inquired about provisions for whistleblowers, among other issues. The discussion will continue in an executive session on Tuesday, 7 December.

GEF CEO Rodríguez presided over the discussion of the GEF Monitoring Report 2021. Françoise Clottes, GEF Secretariat, reviewed the results as presented in the Portfolio Scorecard in the Monitoring Report. She noted multiple areas with good progress, including timing for the first disbursements and quality of implementation. She said the timing of Mid-Term Review (MTR) submission is an area that needs further attention, highlighting that pandemic travel restrictions have prevented many project teams from holding MTRs as planned.

During the discussion of the GEF Monitoring Report 2021, Council Members stressed the role of MTRs in identifying lessons learned and identifying options for “course correction,” and inquired about risk assessments, among other issues. The Secretariat noted that the risk ratings are provided by each implementing Agency and are not normed across agencies, although the data are still useful to track. In the decision on this agenda item, the Council welcomes the report and requests Agencies, through engagement with the Secretariat, to ensure the timely and quality delivery of MTRs as a tool to enhance implementation progress.

30 Years of the GEF

The GEF’s 30th Anniversary is an opportune moment to both celebrate past achievements as well as highlight the challenges ahead. 

Follow our digital campaign #ForThePlanet which is taking a deep-dive into the past, present and the future of the GEF, and the issues we work on.

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Visit our 30 Years of the GEF landing page for a historical timeline and more

Information Documents
Number Title Document Summary Documents
GEF/C.61/Inf.01/Rev.01 Provisional Timetable
GEF/C.61/Inf.02 Provisional List of Documents
GEF/C.61/Inf.03/Rev.01 GEF Council Members, Alternates, and Constituencies
GEF/C.61/Inf.05 Long-Term Vision on Complementarity, Coherence and Collaboration between the GCF and the GEF: Summary of the Presentation and Discussion at the 29th Meeting of the GCF Board
GEF/C.61/Inf.06 GEF Trust Fund Financial Report
GEF/C.61/Inf.07 GEF Private Sector Engagement Strategy Annual Report
GEF/C.61/Inf.08 The Use of Flexibility of STAR
GEF/C.61/Inf.09 Progress Report on the Implementation of the GEF Policy on Environmental and Social Safeguards
GEF/C.61/Inf.10 Progress Report on Agencies' Compliance with Minimum Standards in the GEF Policies on: Environmental and Social Safeguards, Gender Equality, and Stakeholder Engagement
GEF/C.61/Inf.11 Annual Report on Grievance Cases Involving GEF-funded Projects
GEF/C.61/Inf.12 Summary of the Extensions Granted Under the Cancellation Policy
GEF/C.61/Inf.13 Update Report on Reflows to the GEF Trust Fund from the Non-Grant Instrument Portfolio
GEF/C.61/Inf.14 Progress Report on GEF Agencies' Compliance with the GEF Minimum Fiduciary Standards
GEF/C.61/Inf.15 Progress Report on the Capacity-building Initiative for Transparency
IEO Working Documents
Number Title Document Summary Documents
GEF/E/C.61/01 Working Toward a Greener Global Recovery - Executive Summary of the Final Report of OPS7
IEO Information Documents
Number Title Document Summary Documents
GEF/E/C.61/Inf.01 Working Toward a Greener Global Recovery - Final Report of OPS7
GEF/E/C.61/Inf.02 Annual Performance Report 2021