Third GEF Assembly Bulletin

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Third GEF Assembly 2006

29-30 August 2006 | Cape Town, South Africa

Highlights from Tuesday, 29 August

Opening Ceremony
GEF Assembly delegates were welcomed with music and dance from the Western Cape Province

Trevor Manuel, South Africa 's Minister of Finance, Ebrahim Rasool, Premier, Western Cape, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Deputy President of South Africa, and Monique Barbut, GEF CEO

Monique Barbut, GEF CEO, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, Minister of Environmental Affairs, and Ebrahim Rasool, Premier, Western Cape

Marthinus van Schalkwyk , South Africa's Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, opened the third GEF Assembly, highlighting that South Africa is known for its cultural diversity and for having the third highest level of biodiversity in the world.


Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Deputy President of South Africa, welcomed delegates on behalf of South Africa's President, Thabo Mbeki. She emphasized the need to demystify and simplify the environmental message, and noted the GEF's role in addressing interrelated environmental challenges, particularly in Africa . She outlined South Africa 's efforts to promote sustainable energy and transport, stressing the need to mainstream best environmental practices into economic sectors, such as tourism, aquaculture, forestry and mining. Drawing a parallel with the struggle for democracy in South Africa , she said a commitment to environmental protection could become the legacy of today's youth . Emphasizing the many natural attractions of the Cape region, Ebrahim Rasool, Premier of the Western Cape, said the province must address issues such as the use of renewable energy, crop replacement, and the reconfigurement of human settlements, in light of pressure on natural resources created by climate change and population movement.


GEF CEO/Chair Monique Barbut thanked the South African Government for hosting the Assembly, noting that this is the first time it is being held in Africa . Highlighting serious environmental threats, such as species extinction, climate change, land degradation and conflicts over shared water resources, she said the purpose of the Assembly is to find solutions to poverty and the deterioration of the environment. She emphasized the virtually universal nature of the GEF, an expanded portfolio operating in 150 countries, and a US$6.2 billion investment in projects. She thanked the 32 contributors to the fourth GEF replenishment (GEF-4), who committed a record-breaking US$3.13 billion.

Trevor Manuel, South Africa 's Minister of Finance, was elected Chair of the third GEF Assembly.



Chair Manuel debates with delegates a proposal to discuss the resource allocation framework (RAF) in plenary. Chair Manuel said the issue would be addressed at a roundtable discussion on Wednesday, 30 August, and suggested the outcome be reported to plenary. The US pointed out that the GEF Council's decision on the RAF is not open for renegotiation. Chair Manuel called for cooperation, and delegates adopted the proposed agenda and organization of work.


Statements by GEF Partners


Steen Lau Jorgensen, the World Bank, encouraged participants to consider opportunities, such as making markets work for the environment. He suggested: scaling up GEF co-financing; making funding more predictable; and reducing transaction costs for developing and reviewing GEF projects. Noting that the GEF's replenishment of US$3.13 billion is equivalent to approximately five weeks of profit for a large oil business. Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director, recommended that the Assembly extend beyond welcoming the GEF's replenishment by calling to attention the high price of inaction. He also stressed the importance of making environmental improvements an everyday reality, and not the sole responsibility of environmentalists. Ad Melkert, UNDP Associate Administrator, described GEF as a catalyst for, inter alia : private sector involvement; innovative financing mechanisms; new markets for ecosystem services; international cooperation; and partnerships. He stressed the need to better capture public attention to convey the sense of urgency for the environment at all levels.


Emphasizing biodiversity challenges and the importance of GEF replenishment, Ahmed Djoghlaf, Executive Secretary, Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), called on the Assembly to address issues relating to the environment with urgency and responsibility for the benefit of present and future generations. Feng Gao, UNFCCC Deputy Executive Secretary, highlighted the significance of progress achieved at COP-11 and COP/MOP-1 regarding the Convention's relationship with the GEF, and in particular the processes for a future regime on climate change, the operationalization of the Kyoto Protocol and the work programme on adaptation. Kandeh Kolleh Yunkella, Director General, UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), remarked that the GEF should be considered as a model for quality control and inter-agency coordination at the field level in the context of discussions on UN reforms. He also called for promoting entrepreneurship, fair trade and clean technologies to reduce poverty.

Dorothy Manuel, Central Focal Point, GEF NGO Network, urged the GEF to devise a policy for indigenous peoples.

Pamela Crivelli, World Bank, presented the Report on the GEF Trust Fund (GEF/A.3/4), noting that it is the largest trust fund managed by the World Bank, and welcomed South Africa as the GEF's 38th donor. She also advised that the World Bank's Board of Directors will discuss GEF-4 at its meeting on 10 October 2006. Yolanda Kakabadse, GEF Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel Chair, underscored: the need for the GEF to assist in translating scientific knowledge into tools and indicators for practitioners; the challenges of climate change and invasive alien species; and the importance of creating market conditions to incentivize technologies that promote global environmental benefits. Robert van den Berg, GEF, reported on the Third Overall Performance Study (OPS3) of the GEF (GEF/A.3/7), highlighting positive results in the areas of biodiversity and climate change and optimistic projected contributions. He cautioned against placing unrealistic expectations on the GEF as the fourth replenishment is lower in real terms than previous ones, and its tasks have increased.

Statements on behalf of Constituencies and Ministerial statements
Tomas Novatny, Deputy Minister for Enivironment, Czech Republic, representing the constituency of Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Hungary, Luxembourg, Slovak Republic, Slovenia and Turkey, called for increased integration of GEF activites. Yong Li, Vice Minister of Finance, China, called for GEF's increased role in tackling invasive alien species and ensuring the sharing of benefits from genetic resources. Ruchira Kamboj, Head of Indian High Commission, Cape Town, representing Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka, argued that the reduction in some countries' contributions to the GEF runs contrary to the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.

Maria Madalena Brito Neves, Cape Verde, representing the constituency of Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Chad, The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal, said it would like to see the decision to adopt the GEF as the CCD funding mechanism reflected in the GEF Instsrument. Henri Djombo, Minister of Forestry, Economy and Environment, Republic of Congo, representing the constituency of Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republiv, Congo, DR of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and Sao Tome and Principe, and speaking as the President of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN), lamented the lack of funding for the New Partnership for Africa 's Development (NEPAD) environment action plan and the complexity of GEF procedures for accessing funding.

Press Conference: "Development under Climate Threat" and launch of World Bank report "Managing Climate Risk-Integrating Adaptation into World Bank Group Operations"
Steen Lau Jorgensen, Director, Social Development, World Bank, Warren Evans, Director, Environment Department, World Bank, and Kristyn Schrader, World Bank
Side Event: Panel Discussion: Third Overall Performace Study (OPS3) of the Global Environment Facility
Roberto Dobles, Minister of Environment and Energy, Costa Rica, commented on the GEF country portfolio evaluation of his country, which indicated that: GEF support to Costa Rica has been relevant to domestic environmental progress but it could increase its contribution to global environmental benefits; and that more projects are needed in the areas of land degradation, climate change, clean transportation and mangrove swamps.
Mark Wagner, OPS3 Team Leader, summarized the findings of the Study and reported on activities carried out since its completion. He outlined OPS3 recommendations that have been addressed in programming for GEF-4, including: improving the strategic direction of focal area programs; developing focal area indicators; moving toward a country portfolio focus with multi-stakeholder input; strengthening information management; and clarifying the roles of GEF partners.
Side Event: Enhancing Partnerships Through NGO Engagement GEF
Mathambo Ngakaeaja, Working Group of Indigenous Minorities in Southern Africa (WIMSA)(left), provided a brief history of negotiations undertaken by the San Bushmen to protect their traditional knowledge via the establishment of access and benefit-sharing agreements. He explained that successful access and benefit-sharing negotiations require: involving all stakeholders; establishing equal relationships between parties; capacity building; and the spirit of compromise. Libasse Ba, Environmental Development Action in the Third World (ENDA), described a programme, being undertaken in Senegal , Mali , Guinea Bissau Tanzania , India and Nepal , which aims to reduce carbon emissions from deforestation, takes a participatory approach, raises awareness and builds capacity in communities. Gustavo Alanis Ortega, Mexican Centre of Environmental Law, detailed legal instruments available to Mexicans for challenging the government or private entities that affect the environment. To ensure a healthy environment, he argued, there must be: strong laws; effective institutions; an informed citizenry; and organizations with the courage to use the law.
Side Event: Devilvering Global Environmental Benefits in Sub-Saharan Africa Through Community-Based Investments, Partnerships and Regional Integration-How the GEF is Working with Africa
Salvator Nimubona, Agricultural Rehabilitation and Sustainable Management Project, Burundi, introduced the project, which aims to reduce poverty by restoring and protecting the environment through sustainable land management practices. He outlined how actions were being taken to reduce deforestation and erosion in addition to preserving carbon sinks.

On generating benefits through community-based activities, Ruzika Muheto, Director, Tanzania Marine and Coastal Environmental Management Project, presented on sustainable management and use of marine and coastal resources. Explaining ways in which the project worked with communities, he noted that conditions for small-scale fisheries have improved and that global benefits include the management of transboundary fish stocks.


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