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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 were 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

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.

The 33rd meeting of the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) and Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF) Council took place on Friday, December 2, and adopted the first LDCF/SCCF work program for the eighth funding cycle of the Global Environment Facility (GEF-8). The work program comprises two projects requesting a total of $10.63 million from the two funds, with one addressing urgent and immediate climate change adaptation priorities in one least developed country (LDC) – Cambodia - and the other supporting an innovative global initiative that will support resilience in the 58 countries included in the ‘Vulnerable 20 Group.’

Carlos Manuel Rodríguez, GEF CEO and Chairperson, opened the 33rd meeting of the LDCF/SCCF Council. He recalled the decision by the Sharm El-Sheikh Climate Change Conference to establish a dedicated loss and damage fund, underlining the importance of this fund to LDCs and Small Island Developing States (SIDS). Rodríguez expressed the GEF’s readiness to provide any required support as the process for establishing the fund unfolds in 2023.

Rodríguez also expressed appreciation to Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, and the Walloon Region of Belgium, for pledging a total of $105.6 million to the two funds, noting this support will help breathe new life into the funds.

Ambassador Conrod Hunte, Antigua and Barbuda, Chair, Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), underlined the importance of the SCCF and LDCF for the vulnerable people living across the 39 SIDS globally, noting the adaptation support provided is “vital for our lives, livelihoods, ecosystems, and the well-being of our future generations.” Noting that most SIDS are not LDCs and cannot access the LDCF, he expressed appreciation for the new GEF-8 strategy, under which adaptation support is earmarked for SIDS through a dedicated funding window. Hunte stressed that the pledges made to date are “but a drop in the ocean” of what SIDS need for adaptation and urged more donors to contribute generously to the SCCF and LDCF.

The Council then considered the work program of the LDCF and SCCF. Chizuru Aoki, GEF Secretariat, presented the work program, noting the two projects contained in the program take a multi-sectoral and systemic approach, targeting issues including: climate smart agriculture, rural food security, resilient agricultural value chains, and locally-led adaptation through entrepreneurship and community level solutions. She said the work program will generate results across the adaptation core indicators, including 94,000 direct beneficiaries.

All Council members intervening expressed support for the proposed work program and for the new programming orientation under GEF-8, especially for the emphasis on climate adaptation, support for SIDS, and the multi-sectoral approach.

Aoki also presented the “Progress Report on the Least Developed Countries Fund and the Special Climate Change Fund.” For the LDCF, she reported cumulative pledges amounting to $1.971 billion, 89.7% of which were paid contributions, and $1,751 billion cumulative funding approvals. Aoki said the LDCF is expected to have 60.08 million direct beneficiaries, with 1.91 million people trained. For the SCCF, Aoki reported cumulative pledges amounting to $356.9 million, 98% of which have been paid. She said the SCCF is expected to have 8.91 million direct beneficiaries, with 218,765 people trained.

Aloke Barnwal, GEF Secretariat, presented the Inclusive GEF Assembly Challenge Program, explaining that it aims to recognize and support the role played by community based/civil society organizations (CSOs) in delivering inclusive benefits for people and ecosystems, and to advance the whole-of-society approach by providing resources and knowledge to scale up their initiatives. He said a call for proposals will go out for high impact and innovative projects which systematically involve CSOs, Indigenous Peoples, youth, and women and girls, both as stakeholders and as solution providers/implementers. Barnwal explained the winning projects will be announced during the upcoming GEF Assembly and awarded up to $100,000 each for project implementation.

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On Thursday, the 63rd meeting of the GEF Council was addressed by the heads of several of the international environmental conventions served by the GEF, with GEF CEO Carlos Manuel Rodríguez stressing how important it is for the Council to hear about the conventions’ priorities and perspectives.

Elizabeth Mrema, Executive Secretary, Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), reported on efforts to finish negotiations on the post-2020 global biodiversity framework (GBF) for its adoption at the upcoming 15th Conference of the Parties (COP15) to the CBD. She highlighted three expected COP15 decisions relevant to the GEF: adoption of the GBF and its review and monitoring framework; resource mobilization, including the possibility of an additional fund or funds; and access and benefit sharing in relation to digital sequence information on genetic resources.

Rolph Payet, Executive Secretary, Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm (BRS) Conventions Secretariat, highlighted the importance of the upcoming Stockholm Convention deadline on Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) phaseout, and said he looked forward to discussing how to leverage GEF-8 to meet the deadline. 

Monika Stankiewicz, Executive Secretary, Minamata Convention, expressed her Secretariat’s interest in working with GEF to identify opportunities to address mercury risks across GEF focal areas, and also noted the next COP will undertake the second review of the Convention's financial mechanism, “an important milestone in further shaping our relations with GEF.”

UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Deputy Executive Secretary Ovais Sarmad highlighted key outcomes of the UNFCCC COP27, including the adoption of a decision to create a fund for loss and damage and the political signals indicating that fossil fuels need to be phased out. He emphasized that the role of GEF as operating entity of the financial mechanism under the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement is now more crucial than ever. 

Andrea Meza, UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) Deputy Executive Secretary, called for radical collaboration to accelerate a system change that transforms economies and societies. She said GEF-8 can play a critical part in the adoption of solutions with multiple benefits and in determining the trajectory of the society to become Land Degradation Neutral, nature-positive and resilient.  

On Thursday, Paola Rodolfi, GEF Secretariat, introduced the Progress Report on the Implementation of the GEF Gender Implementation Strategy, noting, among other things: 100% of projects at CEO endorsement/approval stage containing detailed gender analysis and plans for a gender-responsive results framework; a rigorous review of Agency compliance with GEF policy; and support for activities to operationalize the policy. Verona Collantes, GEF Secretariat, outlined the Secretariat’s plans for the way forward, including: undertaking a gap analysis of relevant GEF policies and guidelines; ensuring gender entry points in the integrated programs; and reconvening the GEF Gender Partnership.

The Council also heard a presentation on the GEF’s Private Sector Implementation Plan. Matthew Reddy, GEF Secretariat, introduced the GEF Private Sector Engagement Strategy Annual Report 2022 and the Private Sector Engagement Implementation Plan. He said the report covers 254 projects and identifies: 

  • engagement of 1410 private sector entities; 
  • private sector co-financing of $1.2 billion; 
  • 36 multi-stakeholder platforms engaged in the projects; and 
  • a large number of women’s private sector networks, cooperatives and associations engaged in GEF projects. 

Lastly, on Thursday, the Council considered the 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).  

Chizuru Aoki, GEF Secretariat, presented the proposed framework, highlighting elements related to governance, GEF support, operations and strategy requirements, and convention obligations. She said GEF work on the BBNJ agreement could fall under the GEF’s international waters focal area.  

Rena Lee, President, BBNJ Intergovernmental Conference (IGC), briefed Council on status of negotiations, and the general support of IGC negotiators for the GEF to serve as the financial mechanism or part of the mechanism for the legally binding instrument once concluded. The Council members adopted a decision welcoming the GEF to become the mechanism or part thereof, if so requested by the IGC. 

 

 

 

 

 

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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

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

Joint Summary
Number Title Document Summary Documents
GEF/C.63/Jointsummary Joint Summary of the Co-Chairs
Document
Working Documents
Number Title Document Summary Documents
GEF/C.63/01 Provisional Agenda
Document
GEF/C.63/02 Annotated Provisional Agenda
Document
GEF/C.63/03 The GEF Monitoring Report 2022
Document
GEF/C.63/04 Work Program for the GEF Trust Fund
Document
GEF/C.63/05 Country Engagement Strategy Implementation Arrangements for GEF-8
Document
GEF/C.63/06/Rev.01 GEF Small Grants Programme 2.0 Implementation Arrangements for GEF-8
Document
GEF/C.63/07 Report on Lead Agency Selection Process for the Integrated Programs
Document
GEF/C.63/08 Relations with Conventions and Other International Institutions
Document
GEF/C.63/09/Rev.01 Third Party Review of Agency Compliance with GEF Minimum Standards
Document
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
Document
GEF/C.63/11 Amendments to the Instrument of the Establishment of the restructured GEF
Document
GEF/C.63/12 GEF Blended Finance Global Program and NGI Policy Update
Document
GEF/C.63/13 Management Response to the Review of the GEF Management Action Record
Document
GEF/C.63/14 Management Response: Evaluation of the Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on GEF Activities
Document
IEO Working Documents
Number Title Document Summary Documents
GEF/E/C.63/01 Review of the GEF Management Action Record (MAR)
Document
GEF/E/C.63/02 Evaluation of the Effects of the Covid-19 Pandemic on GEF Activities
Document
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
Document

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