DateJune 26-29, 2023
Centro de Eventos e Convenções Brasil 21, Brasília, Brazil

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.

On the final day of the 64th Council meeting, the Global Environment Facility’s governing board approved plans to establish a “game-changing” new fund to finance the implementation of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, which aims to put nature on a recovery path by the end of this decade.

IISD Council Coverage

IISD Earth Negotiations Bulletin provided event coverage with daily summaries and photos.

The need for support to new, key environmental agreements and frameworks took center stage during the last day of negotiations at the 64th Council meeting of the Global Environment Facility. Council members were able to agree on the establishment of the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) Fund, including its programming directions. They further reached consensus on preparing the GEF to serve as part of the financial mechanism of the new international legally binding implementing agreement, under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ Agreement).

Discussions in the morning focused on preparing the GEF to serve as part of the financial mechanism of the BBNJ Agreement, which was concluded in June 2023 and will open for signature in September 2023. Many Council members highlighted the importance of the BBNJ Agreement to address the multiple ocean-related challenges, and supported the GEF operating as part of its financial mechanism. They stressed that the GEF’s vast experience and expertise would enable robust implementation, and underscored the support required to ensure that the necessary ratifications are obtained for the Agreement’s timely entry into force. Some members emphasized the need to promote complementarity and coherence, and to avoid duplicating work. Others highlighted the need for support to developing countries in terms of capacity building and transfer of marine technology for effective implementation.

Discussions on the establishment of the GBF Fund were more demanding. Members devoted much of the day to resolving remaining disagreements in informal settings, having already engaged in lengthy informal discussions over the course of the week that enabled enhanced mutual understanding of respective positions.

The GEF Council resumed in the evening. Members approved the establishment of the GBF Fund, including its programming directions. The GEF Assembly will ratify the decision and formally launch the Fund during its meeting in Vancouver, Canada, in August 2023.

David Cooper, Acting Executive Secretary, Convention on Biological Diversity, highlighted that the Council’s decision sends “a clear signal that we are all determined to succeed” on the GBF. He welcomed the consideration given to the role of Indigenous Peoples and local communities as irreplaceable biodiversity stewards, and the commitment to support them and their actions according to their own priorities.

Council members also adopted decisions on:

  • the GEF Business Plan and Corporate Budget for the fiscal year 2024; and
  • the Four-Year Work Program and Budget of the GEF Independent Evaluation Office (IEO): GEF-8.

The 34th meeting of the Least Developed Countries Fund and Special Climate Change Fund (LDCF/SCCF) took place in the morning. Elected Chairperson Tom Bui, Canada, opened the meeting, suggesting that, due to time constraints, the annual monitoring review of the LDCF/SCCF for the fiscal year 2022 would be addressed during the next Council meeting. Members agreed to this and focused their attention on:

  • the Work Program for the LDCF/SCCF, welcoming the enhanced focus on mainstreaming gender considerations;
  • the Progress Report on the LDCF/SCCF, discussing the benefits of multilingualism in overcoming accessibility barriers;
  • the LDCF/SCCF Administrative Budget and Business Plan for the fiscal year 2024; and
  • the Four-Year Work Program and Budget for the IEO Under the LDCF and SCCF.

In closing remarks, GEF CEO and Chairperson Carlos Manuel Rodríguez underscored the hard work undertaken over the last few days and months, and expressed gratitude to the Council for reaching successful outcomes.

Visit IISD ENB for more event coverage, videos, and photos

Council members engaged in negotiations throughout the day in an effort to reach a timely conclusion for establishing the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) Fund while simultaneously addressing all remaining items on the GEF Council’s agenda.

In the morning, members assessed the strength of the GEF Partnership, including coverage by GEF agencies, exploring possibilities for improving its thematic and geographic coverage. Many delegates called for strengthening engagements with multilateral and regional development banks, while some stressed the need to improve project distribution among agencies. They agreed to request that the Secretariat continue monitoring the strength of the GEF Partnership along the five dimensions of geographic and thematic coverage, efficiency, effectiveness, and engagement, and present an analysis to the 67th Council meeting, ahead of GEF-9.

Council members then focused on agenda items related to the GEF IEO:

  • IEO’s Annual Performance Report 2023, with its theme of behavioral change;
  • Evaluation of the GEF’s approach and interventions on water security;
  • Strategic country cluster evaluation of the Lower Mekong River basin ecosystem; and
  • IEO’s four-year work program and budget.

On the Annual Performance Report, the analysis showed general improvements in achieving intended outcomes although sustainability ratings vary across regions and project periods. The report stressed that behavior change is crucial for generating environmental benefits and that successful projects address needs and barriers, and employ participatory systems-based approaches for stakeholder engagement.

Underscoring that water security and its dimensions are critical across all GEF focal areas, the IEO evaluation emphasized the need to ensure that aspects of water security are represented in the results measurement framework, and project and program design, alongside prioritizing creation of sustainable financing mechanisms for scaling up interventions that successfully improve water security.

The strategic country cluster evaluation of the Lower Mekong River basin ecosystem indicated that the GEF is well positioned to continue contributing to regional transformation. It highlighted the need for additional efforts to: enhance coordination between the GEF, partner countries, and other bodies on the strategic regional priorities of the Mekong River Commission’s basin development strategy; and support longer-term sustainability by designing and implementing mechanisms for testing, replicating, and scaling up successful local outcomes and mainstreaming them at the national level.

Members applauded the reports, shared opinions on management responses, and expressed their support for IEO’s four-year work program and budget.

In the afternoon, Council members took a deep dive into the world of science with the report of the Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel (STAP). Rosina Bierbaum, STAP Chair, summarized new scientific reports and findings, presented information on STAP’s recent and future work, and provided STAP’s observations on GEF’s work program. In their statements, Council members expressed appreciation for the high-quality report.

Delegates then returned to informal discussions, trying to bridge remaining divergent opinions regarding the establishment of the GBF Fund, including its programming directions.

Due to time constraints and the heavy workload of the current Council meeting, GEF CEO and Chairperson Carlos Manuel Rodríguez suggested, and Council members agreed to, an intersessional virtual Council meeting, with dates to be decided on Thursday, to address three agenda items:

  • GEF Strategy for Knowledge Management and Learning;
  • Enhancing policy coherence through GEF operations; and
  • Relations with the Conventions and other international institutions.

Visit IISD ENB for more event coverage, videos, and photos

The establishment of the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) Fund, including its programming directions, took center stage on the second day of deliberations at the 64th Council meeting of the GEF. The GBF Fund is an integral part of the Framework, recently adopted by the Convention on Biological Diversity with an overall mission of halting and reversing biodiversity loss by 2030.

Starting early in the morning, delegates focused on the GBF Fund’s programming directions, identifying three main areas of work: action areas, allocation of resources, and ease of access. Some Council members emphasized the need “to get as much money on the table as possible to implement the GBF,” urging consideration of funding modalities for use by all potential sources. Opinions converged on ease of access, with many members supporting simplified access, and largely converged on action areas.

Differences of opinion surfaced on allocation of resources, with Council members focusing, among other issues, on:

  • ensuring procedures and eligibility criteria are feasible and operational;
  • differentiated allocations for countries and GEF-8 biodiversity-focused System for Transparent Allocation of Resources (STAR) allocations as a basis for differentiation;
  • increasing the allocation share for Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) or benefitting “all” developing countries;
  • processes and incentives for increased participation and funding from multilateral development banks (MDBs), international financial institutions (IFIs), and whether these allocations would affect recipient countries’ ability to access these funds;
  • incentives for philanthropic institutions; and
  • co-financing modalities.

MDBs continued to elucidate their potential to effectively leverage and implement a wider variety of financial sources and instruments.

Following the initial discussion, divergent opinions persisted. Elected Chairperson Tom Bui, Canada, adjourned the meeting to allow time for informal consultations between Council members to iron out disagreements.

In the afternoon, Council members addressed the GEF Business Plan and Corporate Budget for the fiscal year 2024. Peter Lallas, GEF Secretariat, presented the relevant document, saying it reflects increased Secretariat funding for GEF-8 tasks, and complements plans for Secretariat restructuring and broader GEF reform. He noted ongoing discussions with the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) on administrative costs.

Council members addressed the proposed budget at length, expressing their general support, and stressing the need for the GEF to be in a position to fulfill its expanded mandate, including the establishment of the GBF Fund and support to the new Treaty on biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ).

Council members devoted the remainder of the day to the establishment of the GBF Fund, in an informal setting. Discussions continued into the evening, with expectations rising for a much-needed successful conclusion to the negotiations.

Visit IISD ENB for more event coverage, videos, and photos

The 64th Council meeting of the Global Environment Facility, the first one to take place outside Washington DC, started its deliberations in Brasilia, Brazil, with the morning’s opening session featuring many dignitaries from the Government of Brazil.

Opening the meeting, Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, CEO and Chairperson of the GEF, noted Brazil's strategic importance, as a mega-biodiverse country and an economic and political powerhouse, in supporting efforts to preserve nature, combat climate change, and promote transformational change. He emphasized the Council’s unique opportunity to combat the triple planetary crisis, and achieve shared prosperity and sustainable development. Underscoring the need for cooperation, he highlighted the importance of discussions under this session’s agenda items on the Work Program and the Global Biodiversity Framework Fund (GBF Fund), and outlined other notable agenda items.

Marina Silva, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Brazil, emphasized Brazil’s renewed commitment to combating the triple planetary crisis, noting the national objective to eliminate deforestation by 2030. She called for democratizing decision-making processes on environmental issues, stressing the critical roles of partnerships and under-represented groups, such as Indigenous Peoples and youth.

Sônia Guajajara, Minister of Indigenous Peoples, Brazil, focused on efforts towards fully realizing the rights of Indigenous Peoples, including protection of Indigenous territories and biodiversity. She underscored the need to support implementation of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), highlighting the contributions of Indigenous Peoples and local communities (IPLCs) as guardians of biodiversity.

Fernanda Machiavelli, Deputy-Minister of Rural Development and Family Farming, Brazil, discussed rural governance, stressing that encouraging sustainable food production is a central national priority for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the goals of the Paris Agreement and the GBF.

Ambassador André Corrêa do Lago, Vice-Minister for Climate, Energy, and Environment, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Brazil, stressed that Brazil is a microcosm of global challenges, highlighting the vision to make Brazil a reference point for global sustainability.

Tatiana Rosito, Vice-Minister for International Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Brazil, underscored the development of an ecological transition plan through the transformation of economic incentives and modes of consumption and production.

Marcia Barbosa, Vice-Minister for Strategic Policies and Programs, Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation, Brazil, highlighted Brazil’s transformation of cities with GEF’s support, and underscored the role that biodiversity can play in transitioning to a bio-economy from the current carbon-based one.

Elected Chairperson Tom Bui, Canada, underscored the importance of approving the decision on establishing the GBF Fund with the objective to ratify it at the upcoming GEF Assembly in August 2023, and ensure “adequacy, predictability, and timely flow of funds” in its implementation.

David Cooper, Acting Executive Secretary, CBD, highlighted the GEF Work Program with its special focus on biodiversity, and stressed that the establishment of the GBF Fund will be the first test of the GBF’s robustness.

Highlights of the first day of work included:

  • Approval of the largest Work Program in the GEF’s history, which requests a total of $1.4 billion from the GEF Trust Fund, contains an indicative $9.1 billion in co-financing, and benefits 136 recipient countries, including 43 Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and 37 Small Island Developing States (SIDS);
  • The discussion on the establishment of the GBF Fund, introduced in detail by Chizuru Aoki, GEF Secretariat; and
  • Approval of the new GEF Communications and Visibility Policy.

On the proposed Work Program, Council members discussed: disparities in allocation of projects and funding to countries; shares of allocations of System for Transparent Allocation of Resources (STAR) and Integrated Program (IP) projects; private sector contributions and allocation among agencies; strengthening work on pollutants and waste; ways to enhance communication among agencies and governments; mainstreaming gender issues; supporting the GBF Targets; and the two tranches of the Small Grants Programme.

On establishing the GBF Fund, Council members engaged in a lengthy detailed discussion on various aspects of the envisaged Fund. Among other issues, they focused on: financing sources, with many delegates highlighting obligations under CBD Article 20 (Financial Resources), as well as the need to attract funding from all sources, including non-sovereign ones; facilitating access to resources, including direct access for states; the potential creation of a subsidiary body and/or an advisory group or groups to increase and diversify engagement; observer selection and participation modalities; references to digital sequencing information, pending further work on this issue; flexibility regarding the Fund’s structure to ensure it is fit for purpose and adaptable; decision making, including governance and voting modalities; synergies between climate change and biodiversity; and definitions and other concerns regarding mega-biodiverse developing countries. Discussions on the proposed Fund will continue on Tuesday.

Visit IISD ENB for more event coverage, videos, and photos

The Fonseca Leadership Program

Approved by the GEF Council in December 2022 initially as the "Gustavo Fonseca Youth Conservation Leadership Program," the new innovative program supports the professional development of promising young conservationists from developing countries.

The program, in honor of tropical scientist Gustavo Fonseca, the GEF’s long-serving Director of Programs who passed away in August 2022, will include conservation fellowships, grants for biodiversity field work, awards for participation in international conservation events, and a recurrent global conservation symposium bringing together young environmental leaders.

“This program will focus on youth and their role in the future of environmental governance and stewardship. Young people from developing countries play a critical role in effecting future change and the GEF is strongly committed to supporting their research, studies, professional development, and leadership,” said Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, the GEF’s CEO and Chairperson.

Number Title Document Summary Documents
GEF/C.64/Highlights Highlights
GEF/C.64/Jointsummary Joint Summary of the Co-Chairs
Working Documents
Number Title Document Summary Documents
GEF/C.64/01/Rev.03 Provisional Agenda
GEF/C.64/02 Annotated Provisional Agenda
GEF/C.64/03/Rev.02 GEF Business Plan and Corporate Budget for FY24
GEF/C.64/04/Rev.01 Work Program for GEF Trust Fund
GEF/C.64/05/Rev.01 Establishment of a New Trust Fund: The Global Biodiversity Framework Fund
GEF/C.64/06/Rev.02 Programming Directions for the Global Biodiversity Framework Fund
GEF/C.64/07 Global Environment Facility Strategy for Knowledge Management and Learning
GEF/C.64/08 Relations with the Conventions and Other International Institutions
GEF/C.64/09 Enhancing Policy Coherence Through GEF Operations
GEF/C.64/10 Assessing the Strength of the GEF Partnership: Coverage by GEF Agencies
GEF/C.64/11 Improving the Visibility of the GEF: New Communication and Visibility Policy
GEF/C.64/12/Rev.02 Preparing the GEF to serve as part of the Financial Mechanism of the international legally binding instrument 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)
GEF/C.64/13 Management Response to Evaluation of the GEF’s Approach and Interventions in Water Security
GEF/C.64/14 Management Response to Strategic Country Cluster Evaluation of the Lower Mekong River Basin Ecosystem
GEF/C.64/15 Report of the Selection and Review Committee
Information Documents
Number Title Document Summary Documents
GEF/C.64/Inf.01 Provisional Timetable
GEF/C.64/Inf.02 Provisional List of Documents
GEF/C.64/Inf.03 GEF Council Members Alternates and Constituencies
GEF/C.64/Inf.04 GEF-8 Scorecard June 2023
GEF/C.64/Inf.05 GEF Trust Fund Financial Report
GEF/C.64/Inf.06 Progress Report on the Capacity-building Initiative for Transparency
GEF/C.64/Inf.07 Progress Report on the Long-Term Vision on Complementarity, Coherence and Collaboration between the Green Climate Fund and the Global Environment Facility 2023
GEF/C.64/Inf.08 Summary of the Extensions Granted Under the Cancellation Policy
GEF/C.64/Inf.09 Updated Third Party Review of Agency Compliance with GEF Minimum Standards
GEF/C.64/Inf.10 Progress Report on GEF Agencies’ Compliance with GEF Minimum Standards
GEF/C.64/Inf.11 Report on Assessment of Expressions of Interests (EOIs) from Countries to Participate in the Integrated Programs
GEF/C.64/Inf.12 Gap Analysis of GEF Policies and Key Social Inclusion Issues
GEF/C.64/Inf.13 GAP Analysis of GEF Funded Activity and Engagement in Fragility, Conflict and Violence-Affected States
GEF/C.64/Inf.14 The Seventh GEF Assembly and Associated Meetings: Healthy Planet Healthy People
GEF/C.64/Inf.15 Transforming Payment Arrears of Côte D'Ivoire to GEF Into Investment to Generate Key Biodiversity Benefits of Global Importance
IEO Information Documents
Number Title Document Summary Documents
GEF/E/C.64/Inf.01/Rev.01 GEF IEO Annual Performance Report 2023
Number Title Document Summary Documents
Second GEF-8 Work Program

Full Video Playlist