Carlos Manuel Rodríguez, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Chairperson of the Global Environment Facility (GEF), opened the 60th GEF Council Meeting on 14 June 2021, and expressed his hope that this would be the last virtual Council meeting on account of COVID-19. He highlighted the need to work together to address “the crises in front of us,” including climate change, biodiversity and wildlife habitat loss, land degradation, ocean pollution and depletion, and dangerous chemicals. The CEO suggested that strong political signals for more sustainability action coming from political leaders, including the G7 Leaders’ Summit that concluded over the weekend, are cause for hope. He reported that the first meeting for the GEF-8 replenishment discussed how the GEF can scale up action on interrelated environmental threats, and expressed general support for the GEF’s plans and priorities.
Rodríguez highlighted that the Council will consider the formalization of an agreement for the long-term vision on complementarity, coherence, and collaboration between the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and the GEF, among other agenda items. In closing, he reminded participants that the GEF is turning 30 this year and said the GEF will be running a campaign for the next six months under the theme #ForThePlanet.
Rodríguez welcomed Mette Møglestue, Norway, as the Elected Chairperson for 2021. She thanked the Council for the confidence they placed in her.
After adopting the agenda, the Council proceeded to discuss three agenda items: Progress Report on the Independent Third Party Review of the UN Development Programme (UNDP); Follow up of UNDP-related decisions from the 59th Council meeting; and Work Program for GEF Trust Fund.
On the progress report, Council Members expressed appreciation for the report, the transparency of the process, and signs of progress so far. On follow-up to the UNDP-related decisions from the 59th Council meeting, Pradeep Kurukulasuriya, UNDP, updated the Council on UNDP’s ongoing self-assessment, reported completion of a first follow-up audit, and said a second audit will assess sustainability of changes made. He said strengthening risk management will continue.
On the work program, Gustavo Fonseca, GEF Secretariat, introduced the proposed Work Program for the GEF Trust Fund, containing 33 projects and addenda to three existing programs for a total request of USD 257.3 million from the GEF Trust Fund and USD 23.8 million in associated Agency fees. He pointed out that the total of USD 281.1 million represents 7.2% of the entire GEF-7 replenishment. He reported that, if approved, the Work Program would result in 100% achievement of five of the core GEF-7 indicators, while a sixth will nearly reach that level. Stand-alone full-sized projects include eight on international waters, four on biodiversity, three on climate change mitigation, and two on chemicals and waste. The Work Program also includes six multi-focal area projects and four multi-trust fund projects.
Most Council Members intervening expressed support for the Work Program as proposed, although some requested that certain projects undergo a second review before CEO endorsement to address specific concerns about project design or issues such as additionality. Council Members adopted the decision as presented.
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