The 62nd meeting of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Council opened with a briefing on the recently concluded negotiations for the eighth replenishment of the GEF Trust Fund (GEF-8). Following the announcement of pledges from two additional countries on Tuesday morning, 29 donor governments will provide USD 5.33 billion for GEF-8 in the next four years. This replenishment is over 30% higher than GEF-7. The Council also approved the final Work Program under GEF-7 on Tuesday, among other agenda items.
Prior to opening the 62nd meeting of the GEF Council on Tuesday morning, 21 June 2022, Carlos Manuel Rodríguez, CEO and Chairperson of the Global Environment Facility (GEF), expressed sorrow at the news that Delphin Aidji (Benin), the GEF Council Member from the West Africa constituency, had passed away over the weekend. Rodríguez invited the Council to stand for a moment of silence.
In his first in-person address to the GEF Council after two years of online meetings, GEF CEO Rodríguez expressed hope that GEF-8 would provide inspiration in this difficult time, with multiple challenges caused by the global pandemic. He recognized the work of the Secretariat, GEF Agencies, GEF CSO Network, and others to support the GEF through the end of GEF-7 without significant consequences for its portfolio.
Rodríguez expressed his hope that by the end of GEF-9 the GEF would be able to support countries where all public and private investments are aligned with the Paris Agreement on climate change and other environmental agreements. He stressed that we can address the triple planetary crisis by working together with governments, the private sector, and civil society organizations, and noted that, based on the discussions in the recent meetings of the Conferences of the Parties to the Minamata Convention on Mercury, the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), and the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm (BRS) Conventions, there is a clear desire for more integration. Rodríguez also announced Qatar would be joining the GEF partnership and highlighted its interest in climate adaptation issues.
GEF Council Co-Chair Ambassador Ali’ioaiga Feturi Elisaia highlighted that small island developing States (SIDS) had a seat at the table at the GEF-8 replenishment negotiations for the first time, and said being in the room was “not only priceless but eye opening and empowering.” He reported that developing and developed countries had pledged funding for GEF-8, which represents a “vote of confidence” in the GEF and its stakeholders.
Many Council Members lauded the historic level of funding for the GEF-8 replenishment. Several expressed appreciation for the participation of SIDS in the process, and expressed hope that least developed countries (LDCs) could be similarly involved in the GEF-9 process. One Council Member underscored the importance of continuing to work with Indigenous and local communities, young people, and women.
During the discussion of the Work Program for the GEF Trust Fund, Council Members adopted a proposal for allocating USD 165.8 million for 19 projects and programs from all five focal area envelopes and from the non-grant instruments (NGI) funding window. The Secretariat highlighted that the Work Program would contribute to a green and blue recovery and direct significant resources at SIDS and LDCs, with Africa holding the largest share.
The Secretariat also provided an overview of the entire GEF-7 cycle, noting that progress had been made on all programming fronts, with 93% of total resources being programmed in GEF-7 once the Council approved the Work Program. The Secretariat highlighted that, despite the difficult circumstances due to the global pandemic, all focal areas except climate change were over 90% programmed, and the levels of co-financing were better than expected.
Additional agenda items discussed on Tuesday included the GEF-8 Integrated Programs lead agency terms of reference and selection process, updating the System for Transparent Allocation of Resources (STAR), and the FY23 corporate budget and business plan.