Today marks the beginning of the fourth GEF Assembly in Punta del Este, Uruguay, held for the first time in a Latin American country. This four-day long affair promises a full agenda, including plenary sessions, high-level panels, exhibits, side events and on site GEF project visits.
This is the fourth Assembly meeting in the history of the GEF since its inception 1991, where minister-level delegations from the 181 member countries meet to discuss global environmental policies and ways to better position the GEF in response to the looming environmental challenges of our planet.
This Assembly comes at a crucial point in time - just two weeks after donors have confirmed a record funding for the fifth replenishment cycle. The Assembly serves as an ideal opportunity for the international development community to leave behind half-hearted commitments of the past and to garner substantial momentum into environmental efforts.
As the largest public funder of environmental projects, the GEF is spearheading these efforts across all thematic focal areas, ranging from biodiversity projects, such as protecting the endangered Saiga antelope in Central Asia, to climate change projects, such as providing energy efficient stoves in many West African countries. Furthermore, the Assembly serves as an ideal platform to take stock and develop an improved vision for the next four years of GEF work with its replenished $4.25 billion dollar portfolio.
In addition, the GEF Council will also meet as a part of the Assembly. This is an important opportunity for the GEF as this meeting promises to be the starting point of efforts to unleash the full potential of reforms that the fifth replenishment cycle contains, including further measures to increase GEF efficiency, effectiveness and openness to new partners from both the private sector and NGO community.