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The sixth meeting on the restructuring and replenishing the Global Environment Facility (GEF) ended in failure on Friday, 10 December in Cartagena, Colombia. This was supposed to be the final negotiating session on GEF restructuring. The GEF was set up in 1991 as a three-year pilot programme to provide additional grant and concessional funding of the agreed incremental costs for achieving agreed global environmental benefits. It finances activities in four areas: global warming, biological diversity, ozone depletion and international waters. The Pilot Phase ends in mid-1994.

At the Cartagena meeting, negotiations stalled on two major issues: (1) what is the appropriate ratio of seats between industrialized countries (ICs), Eastern European economies in transition (ETs) and the developing countries (DCs) within the GEF Executive Council; and (2) whether the Council would be chaired by an individual elected from among its members or by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Secretariat, as nominated by the implementing agencies (UNEP, UNDP and the World Bank). The ICs originally proposed a 30-seat Executive Council with a ratio of 14 ICs + 2 ETs + 14 DCs, with the CEO serving as Chair. The G-77 insisted on holding a majority within the Council that better reflected its constituency of over 130 countries and on the right to elect its own Chair.

On the last day of the session, the ICs returned with two offers: (1) a ratio of 14 ICs + 2 ETs + 15 DCs, with the Chair shared between the CEO and an elected co-Chair; or (2) a ratio of 14 ICs + 2 ETs + 17 DCs, chaired by the CEO. Agreement appeared close as the G-77 spent much of the morning reviewing the options. However, while the G-77 met, France withdrew its support for the compromise and was followed quickly by Germany. France indicated that it insisted on returning to the original 14+2+14 ratio or it would decrease its financial support for the GEF. Amidst accusations of bad faith, and of failing to live up to the promises of new levels of cooperation made in Rio, the negotiations collapsed.

According to some observers, this failure is not definite, as possibilities still exist to conclude the agreement prior to the next session of the Climate Change INC, to be held from 7-18 February in Geneva. It is likely that informal consultations will take place in New York in mid-January and the next meeting of participants is expected to take place in the US before the end of January.

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