The establishment of the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) Fund, including its programming directions, took center stage on the second day of deliberations at the 64th Council meeting of the GEF. The GBF Fund is an integral part of the Framework, recently adopted by the Convention on Biological Diversity with an overall mission of halting and reversing biodiversity loss by 2030.
Starting early in the morning, delegates focused on the GBF Fund’s programming directions, identifying three main areas of work: action areas, allocation of resources, and ease of access. Some Council Members emphasized the need “to get as much money on the table as possible to implement the GBF,” urging consideration of funding modalities for use by all potential sources. Opinions converged on ease of access, with many Members supporting simplified access, and largely converged on action areas.
Differences of opinion surfaced on allocation of resources, with Council Members focusing, among other issues, on:
- ensuring procedures and eligibility criteria are feasible and operational;
- differentiated allocations for countries and GEF-8 biodiversity-focused System for Transparent Allocation of Resources (STAR) allocations as a basis for differentiation;
- increasing the allocation share for Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) or benefitting “all” developing countries;
- processes and incentives for increased participation and funding from multilateral development banks (MDBs), international financial institutions (IFIs), and whether these allocations would affect recipient countries’ ability to access these funds;
- incentives for philanthropic institutions; and
- co-financing modalities.
MDBs continued to elucidate their potential to effectively leverage and implement a wider variety of financial sources and instruments.
Following the initial discussion, divergent opinions persisted. Elected Chairperson Tom Bui, Canada, adjourned the meeting to allow time for informal consultations between Council Members to iron out disagreements.
In the afternoon, Council Members addressed the GEF Business Plan and Corporate Budget for the fiscal year 2024. Peter Lallas, GEF Secretariat, presented the relevant document, saying it reflects increased Secretariat funding for GEF-8 tasks, and complements plans for Secretariat restructuring and broader GEF reform. He noted ongoing discussions with the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) on administrative costs.
Council Members addressed the proposed budget at length, expressing their general support, and stressing the need for the GEF to be in a position to fulfil its expanded mandate, including the establishment of the GBF Fund and support to the new Treaty on biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ).
Council Members devoted the remainder of the day to the establishment of the GBF Fund, in an informal setting. Discussions continued into the evening, with expectations rising for a much-needed successful conclusion to the negotiations.