The second and final day of the first ever virtual meeting of the GEF Council ended with emotion and gratitude, as outgoing CEO and Chairperson Naoko Ishii passed the torch to her successor, Carlos Manuel Rodríguez. The 58th meeting of the GEF Council, a unique online session, also took up the draft Private Sector Engagement Strategy, requesting the Secretariat to further revise it and present the revised Strategy and an implementation plan for it at the next Council session, scheduled for December 2020.
The Council also discussed the Independent Evaluation Office’s (IEO) approach paper for the 7th Comprehensive Evaluation of the GEF (OPS7), which will inform the negotiations for the GEF-8 replenishment. The Council requested the IEO to conduct the OPS7 and to provide the evaluation reports to the replenishment process in October 2021 and to the Council in December 2021.
GEF Council Members also convened as the 28th meeting of the Council of the Least Developed Country Fund (LDCF)/ Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF), and adopted an LDCF Work Program comprising eight projects, with total resources amounting to USD 59.59 million. It also agreed on the FY2021 Administrative Budget for the Funds and the FY2021 Work Program and Budget for the IEO under the LDCF and SCCF.
After considering the Summary of the Chair for the GEF Council and the LDCF/SCCF Council, incoming GEF CEO and Chairperson Carlos Manuel Rodríguez addressed the Council. He called on GEF to play a central role in defining a “green recovery” from COVID-19 and to help realize the goals of the 2030 Development Agenda. This was followed by addresses from several Members and the Civil Society Organizations (CSO) representative, welcoming Rodríguez and pledging to work closely with him.
After a video celebrating milestones in her eight years as GEF CEO and Chairperson, Naoko Ishii gave a farewell address to the Council, thanking Members for “our journey together.” After accolades and applause from Council for Ishii, Council Secretary William Ehlers closed the meeting at 11:52 am.
The decision to meet for the first time online rather than in person was taken in direct response to the COVID-19 crisis. To deal with the challenge of a virtual meeting involving Members from many different time zones, the meeting was cut to two days and the agenda was truncated. While the virtual nature did present some technical and logistical challenges overall it appeared to run smoothly. Given the Secretariat’s prediction that some disruption from COVID-19 may last into FY2021, the GEF's overall success in overcoming the challenges faced in convening the meeting virtually suggests that virtual meeting technology may again have a role to play in the future.