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GEF Council Bulletin

Volume 192 Number 14 | Sunday, 25 October 2015


Summary of the 49th Meeting of the Global Environment Facility Council

20-22 October 2015 | Washington, DC, US


Languages: EN (HTML/PDF)
Visit our IISD/ENB+ Meeting Coverage from Washington, DC, US at: http://enb.iisd.org/gef/council49/

The 49th meeting of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Council convened in Washington, DC, US, from 20-22 October 2015, at World Bank headquarters. The three-day meeting brought together approximately 250 representatives of governments, international organizations and civil society organizations (CSOs), who also attended the 19th meeting of the Council for the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) and the Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF). The meeting was preceded by a Consultation with CSOs and an evening reception on 19 October.

During the meeting, GEF Council members participated in a panel discussion on the Amazon. Richard Kinley, Deputy Executive Secretary, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) provided an update on preparations for the upcoming 21st session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP 21) to be held in Paris, France, November-December 2015, after which Council members discussed relations with the Conventions and other international institutions.

GEF Council members considered, inter alia: future directions on accreditation; impact evaluation of GEF support to Protected Areas and Protected Area Systems; knowledge management needs assessment; the Annual Monitoring Review; and an update on the preparation of Integrated Approach Pilots. The GEF Council approved a Work Program amounting to US$254.99 million. GEF Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Chairperson Naoko Ishii was reappointed for a second four-year term. 

The LDCF/SCCF Council convened for its 19th meeting on 22 October. Decisions were adopted on the progress report for the LDCF/SCCF and the work programcomprising two projects. Switzerland and Finland pledged US$2.6 million for the LDCF and US$2.3 million for the SCCF, on top of the US transfer of US$26.75 million received in September 2015 for the LDCF. The LDCF/SCCF and GEF Councils each concluded with review and approval of the Joint Summary of the Chairs of each meeting. CEO Ishii closed the meeting at 1:39 p.m.

The following summary highlights the discussions and decisions reached during the 49th meeting of the GEF Council and the 19th meeting of the LDCF/SCCF Council.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE GEF 

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) was created in 1991 as a result of mounting concern over global environmental problems and in an effort to formulate financing responses to address these problems. The GEF operated in a pilot phase within the World Bank until mid-1994. Negotiations that restructured the GEF into a permanent, separate institution were concluded at a GEF participants’ meeting in Geneva in March 1994, where representatives of 73 countries agreed to adopt the GEF Instrument.

The GEF organizational structure includes an Assembly that meets every four years, a Council that meets twice a year, a Secretariat, and a Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel (STAP). The Independent Evaluation Office was created in 2003. The GEF Assembly has convened five times: 1-3 April 1998 in New Delhi, India; 16-18 October 2002 in Beijing, China; 29-30 August 2006 in Cape Town, South Africa; 25-26 May 2010 in Punta del Este, Uruguay; and 28-29 May 2014, in Cancún, Mexico.

The organization’s main decision-making body is the GEF Council, which is responsible for developing, adopting and evaluating the GEF’s operational policies and programmes. It comprises 32 appointed Council members, each representing a constituency group of countries, most of which are composed of either donor or recipient countries.

The GEF is funded by donor nations, which commit money every four years through a process called the GEF Replenishment. Since its creation in 1991, the GEF Trust Fund has been replenished by US$2.75 billion (GEF-1), US$3 billion (GEF-2), US$3.13 billion (GEF-3), US$3.13 billion (GEF-4) and US$4.34 billion (GEF-5). In April 2014, the Trust Fund was replenished by US$4.43 billion from 31 donor countries (GEF-6).

The GEF serves as a financial mechanism for a number of multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs), including the: Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and the Minamata Convention on Mercury. GEF also funds activities in the areas of sustainable forest management, international waters and ozone layer depletion. The GEF administers the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) and the Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF), which were established by the UNFCCC, and the Nagoya Protocol Implementation Fund (NPIF), which was established by the CBD. The GEF Secretariat also hosts the Board Secretariat of the Adaptation Fund established by the parties to the Kyoto Protocol to the UNFCCC.

GEF funding has been channeled to recipient countries through “GEF Agencies,” which as of October 2015 includes the: UN Development Programme (UNDP); UN Environment Programme (UNEP); World Bank; Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO); UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO); African Development Bank (AfDB); Asian Development Bank (ADB); European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD); Inter-American Development Bank (IDB); International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD); World Wildlife Fund, Inc. (WWF-US); Conservation International (CI); International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN); Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA); Brazilian Biodiversity Fund (FUNBIO); Chinese Foreign Economic Cooperation Office (FECO); Development Bank of Latin America (CAF); and West African Development Bank (BOAD). 

Summaries of IISD RS’ coverage of past GEF Council and Assembly meetings can be found at http://enb.iisd.org/process/trade_invest_in_sd.htm

47TH MEETING OF THE GEF COUNCIL: This meeting convened in Washington DC, US, from 28-30 October 2014. The Council heard a dialogue between the Executive Secretaries of four conventions served by the GEF and the Chair of the STAP and considered agenda items including Improving the GEF Project Cycle, the Gender Equality Action Plan, Progress Report on the Pilot Accreditation of GEF Project Agencies and Timeline for Further Discussion of Accreditation, and Stocktaking of Integrated Approach Pilots (IAPs) Preparation. The Council approved a Work Program with total resources of US$190.74 million. The LDCF/SCCF Council convened for its 17th meeting on 30 October, and adopted, inter alia, a Work Program for the SCCF amounting to US$31.883 million. Switzerland announced that it was sending CHF 1 million for the LDCF and CHF 1.25 million for the SCCF. Norway announced a recent contribution of NOK 22 million to the LDCF and NOK 15 million to the SCCF. Ireland announced a commitment of 900,000 Euros to the LDCF, and Belgium announced a forthcoming contribution of 12 million Euros to the LDCF. The US announced that it had transferred US$27.2 million to the LDCF in September, more than it had originally pledged.

48TH MEETING OF THE GEF COUNCIL: This meeting convened in Washington DC, US, from 2-4 June 2015. The Council considered and adopted the largest proposed Work Program in the history of the GEF, a total of US$709 million of GEF Trust Fund resources, plus an indicative amount of US$4.81 billion in co-financing. The Work Program encompasses Integrated Approach Pilots (IAPs) on sustainable cities, food security in sub-Saharan Africa, and taking deforestation out of commodity supply chains, as well as global programs and other projects.

GEF COUNCIL CONSULTATION WITH CSOs: A GEF Council Consultation with CSOs took place on Monday, 19 October 2015, in Washington, DC. Discussions focused on three topics: a dialogue with the GEF CEO; partnerships with civil society to meet GEF’s targets and the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); and civil society and convention implementation. Afterwards, the second meeting of the Working Group on Implementation of the GEF Public Involvement Policy (PIP) convened, involving members of the GEF-CSO Network, Indigenous Peoples, GEF Operational Focal Points the GEF Council and the GEF Secretariat. For IISD RS’ summary of the proceedings, see http://enb.iisd.org/gef/council49/19oct.html.

REPORT OF THE 49TH MEETING OF THE GEF COUNCIL

On Tuesday, 20 October 2015, Naoko Ishii, GEF CEO and Chairperson opened the 49th GEF Council meeting. She lauded the new centrality of environmental sustainability in global policy discussions, noting the GEF’s participation in post-2015 development agenda and sustainable development goals (SDGs) discussions and its role as financial mechanism for the Rio conventions and other multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs). She reported on recent GEF participation in various meetings and UNFCCC COP 21 preparations. CEO Ishii highlighted the GEF Secretariat reorganization, which will enhance integrated programming and GEF implementation, and pointed to the potential for the Non-Grant Instrument (NGI) to mobilize funding for natural resource management. She said this meeting’s discussions would affect the GEF’s future and noted the GEF’s upcoming 25th anniversary in 2016. The Council elected Anyaa Vohiri, Council member for the constituency comprising: Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Togo, as Co-Chair of the meeting and adopted the agenda (GEF/C.49/01/Rev.02).

PANEL DISCUSSION ON THE AMAZON

On Tuesday, 20 October 2015, Thomas Lovejoy, scientist and Amazon expert highlighted the need to view and manage the Amazon as a system and presented a comprehensive map created by National Geographic magazine, to help improve integrated systems planning and management. He noted that the map illustrates a positive story with regard to protected areas but that it also shows the negative impacts of road and dam infrastructure. Lovejoy emphasized the importance of GEF’s Amazon Sustainable Landscapes Program, as three countries are collaborating and the program covers 83% of the Amazon region.He also highlighted the importance of the Amazon with regard to the global climate system and as the single largest depository of terrestrial biodiversity on the planet.

Cristián Samper, CEO, Wildlife Conservation Society, discussed watershed and hydrological system research in the Amazon. Samper outlined that 40% of the entire Amazon consists of wetlands and therefore it is important to better understand and manage the watersheds and hydrological system in an integrated manner, especially to protect the livelihoods of the 34 million people that reside there. He said that currently the watershed system is relatively intact but three main threats exist: land transformation; infrastructure development impacting the flow of nutrients in the watersheds; and climate change.

Discussions ensued on, inter alia: the potential of a new GEF Amazon Sustainable Landscapes Program (a regional program spanning Brazil, Colombia and Peru)  to strengthen cross-border collaboration to conserve the Amazon; trigger a move to whole systems approaches; and improving the socio-economic impacts on people in the Amazon by including the population of the Amazon in integrated management processes.

REPORT OF THE CHAIR OF THE SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNICAL ADVISORY PANEL (STAP)

On Tuesday, 20 October, Rosina Bierbaum, Chairperson, STAP, presented the Report of the Chairperson of the Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel (GEF/STAP/C.49/Inf.01). She highlighted the Integrated Approach Pilots (IAPs), noting that: assessments are being undertaken on how best to measure resilience; knowledge management strategies are embedded in planning; and success/failure indicators are clearly identified and monitored. On ongoing work she highlighted activities on black carbon, green chemistry and areas beyond national jurisdiction. On the SDGs and the GEF 2020 Strategy, Bierbaum identified that: IAPs represent an important vehicle for demonstrating environmentally sustainable development; resilience of socio-economic systems underpins multiple SDGs; knowledge management and open data are key to monitoring and evaluating outcomes and impacts of GEF projects; and GEF indicators need to align with SDG indicators.

During the ensuring discussion, Council members welcomed the report, especially the emphasis on IAPs, knowledge management and open data. One member looked forward to STAP’s wisdom on how to measure impacts in a meaningful and managed way. Several members expressed support for work on new areas such as black carbon, green chemistry, and endocrine-disrupting chemicals. One member cautioned against aligning GEF indicators and resilience measures with SDG indicators, noting that the SDG indicators still have to be developed. Bierbaum responded, clarifying on the need to be “cognizant” of SDG indicator development when working to develop indicators on IAPs.

RELATIONS WITH THE CONVENTIONS AND OTHER INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTIONS

Richard Kinley, Deputy Executive Secretary, UNFCCC, spoke on preparations for UNFCCC COP 21 in Paris, France. He expressed optimism regarding COP 21, but noted that success would be measured against the outcome on finance. He noted consensus from Parties to include the GEF in the post-Paris financial mechanism, and commended its record on adaptation finance. He recommended that the GEF: showcase its ongoing support to developing countries; support remaining countries’ intended nationally determined contributions (INDC) submissions; strengthen support for coherent capacity building; build support for technology transfer and development; and continue to support the LDCF and SCCF through strong pledges.

During the ensuing discussion, Kinley noted that the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) “Toolkit to Enhance Access to Adaptation Finance” shows the importance of developing consensus on definitions of “new resources” and on methodologies to track financial flows. On competition from other financing entities, Kinley said the climate finance architecture will be clearer after the Green Climate Fund (GCF) matures, but highlighted the GEF’s scale and cross-sectoral nature.

Co-Chair Ishii emphasized the GEF’s innovativeness, including its NGI business model, and its unique mandate to serve many conventions, which helps it advance integrated solutions. She called for strengthening the capacity of recipient countries and fostering mechanisms for national dialogue to reduce duplication and overlap. On her statement that there are various complementary forms of financing, one Council member noted that the UNFCCC calls for its financial mechanism’s operating entity to provide grants and concessional loans rather than the non-concessional sources discussed in the OECD paper.

In discussion on the draft decision (GEF/C.49/06), one participant recommended that GEF highlight its comparative advantages in, inter alia: supporting capacity building, reporting and compliance; innovative and replicable approaches; and readiness for new tasks.

Decision:The Council welcomes the report and requests the GEF network to continue to work with recipient countries to reflect the guidance and national priorities in their GEF programming and activities.  

FUTURE DIRECTIONS ON ACCREDITATION

Elwyn Grainger-Jones, GEF Secretariat, presented the agenda item on Future Directions on Accreditation (GEF/C.49/04.Rev.01), which provides an initial assessment of potential impacts on four key GEF agency accreditation issues: coverage, competition, engagement, and efficiency. One Council member supported a broad based expansion of accredited agencies, especially national agencies, while many others supported a limited strategic expansion of agencies based on a comprehensive assessment of: needs of developing countries; gaps in geographic and focal area coverage of current agencies; and trade offs regarding the various options for expansion of accreditation.

 Two Council members suggested revisions to the draft decision requesting the IEO to conduct a survey on the needs of developing countries and further analysis on issues relating to accreditation before making a final decision at a later Council meeting. Many members emphasized that this decision not only relates to accreditation but goes to the core of the GEF business model and the future of the GEF partnership. There was disagreement regarding when further analysis needs to be concluded, with some Council members suggesting that the item be concluded within GEF-6 and others arguing that more time should be taken to ensure a comprehensive decision. Several members highlighted the need to evaluate the performance of implementing agencies and that poor performance should have consequences, while the GEF-CSO Network called for the adoption of a policy allowing for dis-accreditation and suspension of agencies.

Juha Uitto, Director, IEO, responded by proposing a staged approach for further evaluation starting with two surveys to be completed by the June 2016 Council Meeting, the first identifying gaps and needs of recipient countries and the second identifying the needs and barriers experienced by agencies. This would be followed by further analysis of the GEF business model and the GEF partnership later in 2016 and towards GEF’s 6th comprehensive evaluation (OPS6). Grainger-Jones responded that the Secretariat can do a great deal with respect to the needs assessments and that they see a co-benefit between this process and the broader discussion on the GEF business model as a whole.

Decision: The Council appreciates the opportunity to discuss possible future directions of agency accreditation. The Council requests the Secretariat to undertake further work on the issues as described in Council paper “Future Directions on Accreditation” (GEF/C.49/04), including an analysis of the geographic and thematic gaps that may exist within the Partnership and of the effectiveness of the current structure of the GEF Partnership. The Council requests that recommendations be presented at the next Council meeting in 2016.

The Council also requests the IEO to conduct a survey across GEF Partner Agencies and recipient countries on the current structure of the GEF Partnership, and make recommendations based on the results of this survey to feed into the planned review of the health of the GEF Partnership as part of OPS6. The Council requests that a preliminary analysis be presented at the next Council meeting in June 2016.

SEMI-ANNUAL EVALUATION REPORT OCTOBER 2015 AND MANAGEMENT RESPONSE

On Wednesday, 21 October 2015, Juha Uitto, Director, GEF IEO, presented the Semi-Annual Evaluation Report (GEF/ME/C.49/01) and updated the Council on recent IEO activities, including reorganization of the IEO around key issues instead of silos. He noted ongoing updating of the monitoring and evaluation (M&E) policy, beginning with a gap analysis covering the current policy, and reported on studies being undertaken to feed into the OPS6. He announced that major evaluations being undertaken in the current Work Program cover, inter alia, multiple benefits, programmatic approaches, strategic country evaluations and integrated approaches, but said knowledge management approaches (GEF/ME/C.49/Inf.2) will still tie lessons to focal areas as per the GEF’s overall organization. He highlighted that as a leading environmental evaluation unit, the IEO uses advanced and mixed approaches. He reported on two completed evaluations, the Morocco Country Portfolio Evaluation (1997-2014) (GEF/ME/C.49/Inf.01) and the Joint Impact Evaluation of GEF support to Protected Areas and Protected Area Systems (GEF/ME/C.49/Inf.02).

IMPACT EVALUATION OF GEF SUPPORT TO PROTECTED AREAS AND PROTECTED AREA SYSTEMS

On Wednesday, 21 October 2015, Aaron Zazueta, IEO, presented the Impact Evaluation of GEF Support to Protected Areas (PA) and PA Systems (GEF/ME/C.49/Inf.02). He observed that the semi-annual evaluation (GEF/ME/C.49/01) highlights that GEF’s support to PAs and PA systems are making a positive difference. He highlighted five main recommendations: ensuring that GEF support targets areas rich in global biodiversity; addressing the socio-economic conditions that will ensure local community commitment to biodiversity protection; investing in broader governance issues to address large-scale drivers; developing a more reliable and practical monitoring system to track and assess results at the project and portfolio levels; and investing in understanding what works and why.

Mark Zimsky, GEF Secretariat, commended the mixed methods used and the results of the evaluation and endorsed the conclusions and recommendations.

Discussion ensued on, inter alia: financial and project sustainability beyond GEF support; the need for broad outreach on the PA evaluation, especially to build political support for PA projects; a recommendation to include progress towards reaching CBD targets in GEF PA evaluations; and the need to track progress on implementation of the recommendations made by the IEO. Several members questioned the “actionability” and specificity of some of the recommendations in the PA impact evaluation and whether previous recommendations and actions are being duplicated. One member highlighted the usefulness and specificity of recommendation 4 and requested that it be specifically mentioned in the decision text.

The GEF-CSO Network requested that the GEF consider the contribution that indigenous and local communities and CSOs can bring to monitoring and management of PAs.

 Uitto responded that a system for tracking implementation of recommendations made by the IEO exists and is reported on at every spring Council meeting said the IEO will look into whether this system is satisfactory. Zimsky responded that the GEF Secretariat will rededicate efforts towards funding projects in significant biological areas and that they are working with STAP to look at socio-economic benefits and obstacles related to PA management.

Decision: The decision takes note of the conclusions of the Evaluation, endorses its recommendations and requests the Secretariat to implement the recommendations, including recommendation 4.

KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT NEEDS ASSESSMENT

On Wednesday, 21 October 2015, Geeta Batra, IEO, introduced the item Knowledge Needs Assessment (GEF/ME/C.49/Inf.01) on the findings of an external needs assessment on the use of the IEO evaluation reports/products and the knowledge needs of key stakeholders. She noted that the most frequently consulted reports were the OPS5 and Annual Performance Reviews (APRs) and said more than 90% of survey respondents rated the evaluation reports positively but stakeholder engagement scored lower. She noted that the GEF Secretariat was the least satisfied of all the groups surveyed. On website enhancement, she pledged to improve this as an important source of dissemination. She said lessons from different evaluations would be distilled and collaboration across the GEF partnerships would be enhanced, going forward through joint events, data sharing and publications.

During the ensuing discussion, several Council members called for enhancing knowledge dissemination and encouraged the IEO to reach out to the GEF Secretariat early on to increase their satisfaction levels. 

In response, Uitto acknowledged the need to reach out more extensively in countries where the GEF operates and to the broader public in general, noting that language should be understandable and accessible to all stakeholders. He observed that the IEO has made concrete steps towards working more closely with the GEF Secretariat and other partners. Regarding the website, he said progress has been slow but a concerted effort would be made to make it more interactive and dynamic.

ANNUAL MONITORING REVIEW FY15: PART 1

On Wednesday, 21 October 2015, Christine Roehrer, GEF Secretariat, presented the Annual Monitoring Review (AMR) FY15: Part I (GEF/C.49/03/Rev.01). She highlighted that: GEF-6 is on track in terms of expected global results on environmental benefits; the ratio of planned co-financing for approved projects in GEF-6 is higher than the GEF-5 average; portfolios under implementation appear to be performing satisfactorily; and there is still room for improvement regarding first disbursements and methodologies for collecting information. She then provided an update on overdue projects.

 During the ensuing discussion, several members expressed disappointment with the increase in the number of outstanding projects. Several members voiced concern over the timeframe between project approval and first disbursement; one member proposed decision language to reflect this.

In response, Grainger-Jones acknowledged that the level of overdue projects is a matter of concern, confirming that strong cancellation policies are needed to avoid tying up funds. On the first disbursement timeline, he said an in-depth analysis would be provided during the next Council meeting, but pointed out that there are vastly different methodologies on how the disbursement period is measured.

On the issue of high performance against targets, Gustavo Fonseca, GEF Secretariat noted that the entire GEF-6 target for projects mainly focused on climate change mitigation has been overshot because: a significant number of projects that produce more mitigation benefits had been front-loaded; investments have been made in policy measures that generate indirect effects on mitigation; and targets were set against very conservative baselines based on methodologies utilized across the network.

Decision: The Council welcomes the overall finding that the GEF portfolio under implementation in FY15 performed satisfactorily across all focal areas. The Council welcomes the update on the replenishment targets against expected results for approved projects and the first disbursement analysis.

The Council requests the Secretariat and GEF Agencies to provide a further breakdown and explanation of the factors behind the significant timeframes taken for first disbursement by some GEF Agencies and to present a report at the next Council meeting in June 2016.

WORK PROGRAM

On Wednesday, 21 October 2015, CEO Ishii introduced discussion on the GEF Trust Fund Work Program, proposing that, in light of requests received, child projects for all programmatic approach programs will be circulated to the Council for review and comment four weeks in advance of CEO endorsement.

One member suggested specifying that this modification will apply until the planned IAP review; this received support. Another asked that project framework documents also be circulated.

Gustavo Fonseca, GEF secretariat, presented the proposed Work Program (GEF/C.49/05). He noted that it responds to current demand for funding for climate projects in light of COP21 and also includes a programmatic approach on the Amazon Sustainable Landscapes Programs. He said that the Work Program as a whole incorporates an indicative amount of US$4.71 billion in co-financing, making a co-financing ratio of 1:18. He outlined specific projects funded, as well as two major programmatic approaches and two NGI pilot projects.

During ensuing discussions, several Council members stressed the need to pursue synergies with other projects covering similar issues or regions. One member lamented the relatively small amount of funding for Africa. Fonseca said that Africa has in fact the largest cumulative percentage of resources programmed in GEF-6 to date. In addition, he explained that in dollar terms, the percentage of GEF-6 projects approved for Africa is similar to that for Latin-America. In response to several members encouraging efforts to get public sector NGI proposals, Fonseca said these are welcomed but cautioned that GEF’s funds are limited and only the most competitive projects will end up being funded.

In response to requests for more information about co-financing, Fonseca said that high co-financing results from the strong private sector component and demand for work on climate change. In response to a query on balancing programmatic and country-driven approaches, Fonseca said that programs are based on country demand and that programmatic approaches were front-loaded so as to enable their evaluation towards making informed decisions about them at the end of GEF-6.

One member queried what the GEF as “junior partner” in some proposals means. CEO Ishii responded that it denotes that GEF takes on more risk than any other entity. One Council member commented that by taking on more risk it should be rewarded with high returns.

Decision: The Council approves the Work Program comprising 17 project concepts (including a child project from a programmatic approach approved as part of GEF-5) and two programmatic approaches, subject to comments made during the Council meeting and additional comments that may be submitted in writing to the Secretariat by 5 November 2015.

The Council approves total resources in the Work Program amounting to US$254.99 million which includes GEF project financing and Agency fees.

UPDATE ON THE PREPARATION OF INTEGRATED APPROACH PILOTS

On Wednesday, 21 October 2015, the Council heard updates on preparations for three IAPs. Laurent Granier, World Bank, presented an update on the Sustainable Cities IAP, which has 11 GEF child projects and involves 23 cities. Adriana Dinu, UNDP, reported on Taking Deforestation Out of the Commodity Supply Chain, which is working in five tropical forest countries. Margarita Astrálaga, International Fund for Agricultural Development, reported on the IAP on Fostering Sustainability and Resilience for Food Security in sub-Saharan Africa, which has 12 country partners. All members welcomed the updates, with one stating that IAPs represent the future of the GEF. Several members requested that updates of progress on the IAPs be presented at every Council meeting. The Secretariat assured members that this would happen.

A request was made for the Secretariat to compile and consolidate the policies and practices on the programmatic approaches and the IAPs into one document to improve good governance and to propose a decision to be adopted virtually. Concerns were raised regarding the progress of the Sustainable Cities IAP, with Granier responding that the goals of the IAP had always been ambitious and challenging to implement within the set timeframe. One member highlighted the need for the Resilience for Food Security in sub-Saharan Africa IAP to include climate-resilient crop varieties in the pilot. Astrálaga responded that they are already in collaboration with a partner to ensure that this knowledge is brought into the pilot. Several members called for the knowledge gathered through this process to be documented for knowledge management and M&E purposes.

REPORT OF THE SELECTION AND REVIEW COMMITTEE

On Thursday, 22 October 2015, Co-Chair Anyaa Vohiri presented a draft decision reappointing Naoko Ishii as CEO and Chairperson of the GEF for a second four-year term. The decision was adopted unanimously, followed by many congratulations and affirmations of support. Some Council members also expressed specific support for, inter alia: the current strategic direction; expansion of the GEF partnership; further innovative reforms of the GEF to meet developing countries’ needs, particularly given competition from other institutions; innovations and reforms introduced during GEF-6, such as results based management and NGIs; and greater focus on Africa, particularly west Africa and the southern African environmental agenda.

CEO Ishii thanked everyone for their support and their work in achieving many innovative results. She acknowledged the GEF’s huge agenda and challenges ahead, but expressed optimism regarding the next four years’ work.

OTHER BUSINESS

The Council adopted outstanding decisions on the Future Direction on Accreditation and Improving the GEF Project Cycle. The Council decided that the 52nd Council meeting will be held the week of May 22 2017.

LDCF/SCCF COUNCIL MEETING

CEO Ishii opened the meeting emphasizing the importance of adaptation for the expected Paris climate agreement and the positive role the LDCF and SCCF has played in implementing adaptation. She noted that a limited number of projects are being presented to the Council due to lack of resources and called for further support for the Funds in order to: avoid losing momentum; close the funding gap; and send a clear signal to the parties ahead of COP 21. The Council adopted the agenda (GEF/LDCF.SCCF19/01/Rev.01) on the LDCF and SCCF.

PROGRESS REPORT

Gustavo Fonseca, GEF Secretariat, presented the Progress Report of the LDCF and SCCF (GEF/LDCF.SCCF.19/03) noting that demand for both LDCF and SCCF resources considerably exceeds available funds. He explained that LDCF finances amount to US$17.78 million, while there is demand for US$254.48 million for GEF-endorsed projects and another US$72.02 million for submitted but not yet endorsed projects. He further noted that the SCCF had seen no increase in support since March 2015, with only enough funding available to include one project in the October Work Program.

One Member highlighted the need to diversify lead agencies under the LDCF as UNDP is currently the lead on 48% of projects. Several members urged those who are capable to continue financial support. Switzerland pledged CHF 1 million to the LDCF and CHF 1.25 million to the SCCF. Finland pledged €1.6 million to the LDCF and €0.9 million to the SCCF. The Secretariat said that the two pledges are equivalent to US$2.6 million for the LDCF and US$2.3 million for SCCF. The GEF-CSO Network asked how the Secretariat plans to address the funding gap.

Decision: The LDCF/SCCF Council welcomes the report and takes note with appreciation of the progress made under the LDCF and the SCCF.

WORK PROGRAM

Gustavo Fonseca, GEF Secretariat presented the Joint Work Program of the LDCF and SCCF (GEF/LDCF.SCCF.19/04) with one member announcing that comments on the LDCF project in Kazakhstan will be provided in writing. 

Decision: The Council approves the Work Program comprising two project concepts, subject to comments made during the Council meeting and any additional comments be submitted in writing to the Secretariat by 5 November 2015.

JOINT SUMMARY OF THE CHAIRS AND CLOSING

On Thursday afternoon, 22 October, Council members received a draft Joint Summary of the Chairs for both the GEF Council meeting and the LDCF/SCCF Council meeting, both of which included the decisions they had adopted during the meetings.

Co-Chairperson Vohiri thanked participants for their collaboration, cooperation and patience. CEO Ishii noted that the meeting had been important because the future of GEF had been discussed. She expressed appreciation for her reappointment and closed the meeting at 1:39 p.m.

UPCOMING MEETINGS

CBD 19th Meeting of SBSTTA and 9th Meeting of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Article 8(j) and Related Provisions of the Convention: The nineteenth meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA 19) and the ninth meeting of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Article 8(j) and Related Provisions of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) will be held back-to-back. SBSTTA 19 will convene from 2-5 November. The Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Article 8(j) and Related Provisions of the CBD will convene from 4-7 November.  dates: 2-7 November 2015   location: Montreal, Quebec, Canada   contact: CBD Secretariat   e-mail: secretariat@cbd.int www: https://www.cbd.int/doc/?meeting=SBSTTA-19 https://www.cbd.int/doc/?meeting=WG8J-09 

Pre-COP 21: This Pre-COP is being held in advance of the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 21) to the UNFCCC.  dates: 8-10 November 2015   venue: Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development, 27 rue de la Convention   location: Paris, Ile-De-France, France   e-mail: informals.cop21@diplomatie.gouv.fr

UNFCCC COP 21: The 21st session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC is expected to take place in December 2015, in Paris, France.  dates: 30 November - 11 December 2015   location: Paris, Ile-De-France, France   contact: UNFCCC Secretariat   phone: +49-228 815-1000   fax: +49-228-815-1999   e-mail: secretariat@unfccc.int www: http://www.unfccc.int

47th Session of UN Statistical Commission: The 47th Session of the UN Statistical Commission (UNSC) is expected to agree on the indicator framework and set of indicators for the post-2015 development agenda, among other agenda items. UNSC’s Friends of the Chair Group on broader measures of progress (FOC) will prepare and guide discussions on the development and implementation of the framework.  dates: 8-11 March 2016   venue: UN Headquarters   location: New York City, US   contact: UNSC   e-mail: statcom@un.org www: http://unstats.un.org/unsd/default.htm

Minamata Convention on Mercury INC7: The seventh meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiation Committee (INC7) for the Minamata Convention on Mercury is scheduled to convene in Jordan. Regional consultations will take place on 9 March 2016.  dates: 10-15 March 2016   location: Amman, Jordan   contact: Sheila Logan   phone: +41-22-917-8511   fax: +41-22-797-3460   e-mail: sheila.logan@unep.org www: http://www.mercuryconvention.org/Negotiations/INC7/tabid/4506/Default.aspx

UNGA High-level Thematic Debate: Implementing Commitments on Sustainable Development, Climate Change and Financing: The President of the UN General Assembly (UNGA), Mogens Lykketoft, will convene a high-level thematic debate to support coherent implementation of commitments relating to sustainable development, climate change and financing. The event aims to mobilize and catalyze multilateral, collective, multi-stakeholder and individual actions and commitments in these areas, and to support early progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This event is one of three high-level events the President will convene during UNGA 70. Lykketoft said on 19 October 2015 that the meeting will involve a range of stakeholders with a view to mobilizing urgent action to make some essential early progress. dates: 11-12 April 2016   venue: UN Headquarters   location: New York City, US   contact: Office of the President of the UNGA   e-mail: dowlatshahi@un.org www: http://www.un.org/pga/70/2015/09/14/opening-speech/

42nd Sessions of the UNFCCC Subsidiary Bodies: The 42nd sessions of the subsidiary bodies to the UNFCCC are expected to take place in May 2016.  dates: 16-26 May 2016   location: Bonn, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany   contact: UNFCCC Secretariat   e-mail: secretariat@unfccc.int www: http://www.unfccc.int

Second Meeting of the UN Environment Assembly: The UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) will convene for the second time in 2016. The UNEA of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) represents the highest level of governance of international environmental affairs in the UN system. The Rio+20 conference agreed in June 2012 to strengthen and upgrade UNEP through measures including universal membership of its Governing Council and ensuring the active participation of all relevant stakeholders. In March 2013, the 67th session of the UN General Assembly changed the designation of the Governing Council of UNEP to become UNEA, reflecting the intention to elevate its status.  dates: 23-27 May 2016   venue: UNEP Headquarters, UN Offices in Nairobi (UNON), Gigiri   location: Nairobi, Kenya   contact: Jiri Hlavacek   phone: (254-20) 7621234   e-mail: unepinfo@unep.org www: http://www.unep.org/unea/en/ http://www.unep.org/unea/blog_landing.asp

Tenth Meeting of Open-ended Working Group of Basel Convention (OEWG 10): The tenth meeting of the Open-ended Working Group of the Basel Convention (OEWG 10) will consider issues in advance of the 13th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 13), including: strategic issues; scientific and technical matters; legal, governance and enforcement matters; international cooperation and coordination; and the programme of work and budget. OEWG 10 is to consider revision of the technical guidelines on e-waste adopted by COP 12 on an interim basis.  dates: 30 May - 2 June 2016   location: Nairobi, Kenya   contact: BRS Secretariat   phone: +4122 917 8218   fax: +4122 917 8098   www: http://www.basel.int/TheConvention/OpenendedWorkingGroup%28OEWG%29/
Meetings/OEWG10/Overview/tabid/4626/mctl/ViewDetails/EventModID/8295/EventID/560/xmid/14062/Default.aspx

50th Meeting of the GEF Council: The GEF Council meets twice a year to approve new projects with global environmental benefits in the GEF’s focal areas, and provide guidance to the GEF Secretariat and Agencies.  dates: 7-9 June 2016  location: Washington, DC, US  contact: GEF Secretariat  phone: +1-202-473-0508  fax: +1-202-522-3240  e-mail: secretariat@thegef.org www: http://www.thegef.org/gef/council_meetings

51st Meeting of the GEF Council: As announced at the close of the 48th meeting of the GEF Council, the 51st meeting will take place from 25-27 October 2016.  dates: 25-27 October 2016  location: Washington, DC, US  contact: GEF Secretariat  phone: +1-202-473-0508  fax: +1-202-522-3240  e-mail: secretariat@thegef.org www: http://www.thegef.org/gef/council_meetings

52nd Meeting of the GEF Council: As announced at the close of the 49th meeting of the GEF Council, the 52nd meeting will take place the week of May 22, 2017. dates: week of May 22, 2017 location: Washington, DC, US  contact: GEF Secretariat  phone: +1-202-473-0508  fax: +1-202-522-3240  e-mail: secretariat@thegef.org www: http://www.thegef.org/gef/council_meetings

For additional meetings, see http://sd.iisd.org/