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58th Meeting of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Council

2-3 June 2020

Summary Highlights

Highlights for Wednesday, 3 June 2020

Naoko Ishii, GEF CEO and Chairperson, thanked and waved goodbye to the GEF Council family.

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.

  • Matthew Brian Reddy

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.

  • Gustavo Fonseca

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.

Highlights for Tuesday, 2 June 2020

Participants to the virtual session of the 58th GEF Council Meeting.

Naoko Ishii, GEF CEO and Chairperson, opened the 58th meeting of the GEF Council with reflections on changes to the GEF since she became its CEO in 2012. These changes included adoption of the GEF 2020 Strategy, more results-oriented management, improved policies on safeguards, stakeholder engagement and gender, and a more integrated approach to addressing the drivers of environmental degradation. She also observed that the COVID-19 crisis shows the need for the GEF more than ever, since it highlights the health-environment nexus, the importance of science-based policy, the fragility of economic and social systems, the need to adopt global solutions to address global problems, and the need to restore a balance between human and natural systems.

  • Naoko Ishii

The 58th meeting of the Council took two major decisions on its first day: it elected a new CEO and Chairperson to lead the GEF for a four-year term, and approved a Work Program comprising 63 projects and five programs, with total resources amounting to USD 645.4 million.

The new CEO and Chairperson will be Carlos Manuel Rodríguez, Minister of Environment and Energy for Costa Rica, a post he also held in 2002-2006. He also served for many years as Vice President for global policy at Conservation International. 

The approved Work Program includes programs on marine biodiversity, artisanal small-scale gold mining (ASGM), wildlife, electric mobility, and food systems, land use, and restoration (FOLUR), as well as four Non-Grant Instruments (NGIs). It will benefit 72 recipient countries, including 20 Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and 10 small island developing States (SIDS).

The GEF Council also approved the GEF Business Plan and Corporate budget for FY2021 and the Work Program and Budget for the Independent Evaluation Office (IEO) for FY2021.

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the Council met for the first time virtually. To deal with the challenge of a virtual meeting involving Members from many different time zones, the meeting was cut to two shortened workdays, the agenda was slimmed and the customary full-day prior consultation with civil society organizations (CSOs) was not held. Also, unlike most Council sessions, this meeting did not hear a separate report from the Chair of the Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel (STAP) and a customary discussion session on relations with the international agreements for which GEF serves as financial mechanism will not be held.


Videos from the Meeting

Carlos Manuel Rodríguez, incoming GEF CEO and Chairperson
Naoko Ishii, outgoing GEF CEO and Chairperson
Gustavo Fonseca, GEF Secretariat, presents the proposed Work Program
Report of the Selection and Review Committee on the choice of the next GEF CEO and Chairperson

GEF Resources

IISD ENB/ENB+ Meeting Coverage

IISD Resources