Officials and representatives spared no time Tuesday getting straight to work on the second day of the 4th GEF Assembly in Punta del Este, Uruguay. After opening statements by the CEO and Chairperson of the GEF, Monique Barbut, and Vice-President of Uruguay Danilo Astori, there were a series of statements by high-level officials of GEF agencies and representatives of GEF constituencies followed by six roundtable discussions in the afternoon. The focus of the day was on the GEF’s two major goals for the GEF-5 cycle: improvement in GEF efficiency and effectiveness and enhanced country ownership of GEF projects.
In her address, Monique Barbut underscored improvements coming to the GEF in light of its unprecedented $4.25 billion replenishment for its fifth cycle. In order to achieve its two major goals for the next cycle, Madame Barbut highlighted reforms such as the simplification of the project approval processes, the creation of a Results Based Performance System (RBPS) and the establishment of a system for transparent allocation of resources (STAR).
Following Madame Barbut, Vice-President Astori emphasized the potential opportunities to come from the fifth replenishment, but noted still larger amounts needed to achieve sustainability goals.
Representatives of GEF agencies such as Executive Director of the UNEP Achim Steiner, UNIDO Director-General Kandeh K. Yumkella, and incoming Vice-President of the World Bank Inger Andersen also spoke on the importance of partnership between the GEF and its agencies and also stressed the necessity of strengthened cooperation over the next four years.
The afternoon yielded a set of six roundtable discussions on topics tailored towards improved GEF efficiency and enhanced country ownership of projects. Representatives from countries expressed their suggestions for GEF improvement in areas such as the GEF’s programmatic approach, the GEF project cycle, the allocation of GEF funds, project evaluations, and country capacity to enhance ownership. For example, Indonesia’s representative suggested clearer rules and responsibilities for applying for GEF grants while representatives from many Latin American countries recommended increased synergies among national institutions a closer alignment of GEF projects with national development plans.
Overall, the discussions Tuesday allowed for many voices from around the world to be heard as a conglomeration of ideas were pooled together towards improving the GEF over the coming four years and beyond.