Council Members engaged in negotiations throughout the day in an effort to reach a timely conclusion for establishing the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) Fund while simultaneously addressing all remaining items on the GEF Council’s agenda.
In the morning, Members assessed the strength of the GEF Partnership, including coverage by GEF agencies, exploring possibilities for improving its thematic and geographic coverage. Many delegates called for strengthening engagements with multilateral and regional development banks, while some stressed the need to improve project distribution among agencies. They agreed to request that the Secretariat continue monitoring the strength of the GEF Partnership along the five dimensions of geographic and thematic coverage, efficiency, effectiveness, and engagement, and present an analysis to the 67th Council meeting, ahead of GEF-9.
Council Members then focused on agenda items related to the GEF IEO:
- IEO’s Annual Performance Report 2023, with its theme of behavioral change;
- Evaluation of the GEF’s approach and interventions on water security;
- Strategic country cluster evaluation of the Lower Mekong River basin ecosystem; and
- IEO’s four-year Work Program and Budget.
On the Annual Performance Report, the analysis showed general improvements in achieving intended outcomes although sustainability ratings vary across regions and project periods. The report stressed that behavior change is crucial for generating environmental benefits and that successful projects address needs and barriers, and employ participatory systems-based approaches for stakeholder engagement.
Underscoring that water security and its dimensions are critical across all GEF focal areas, the IEO evaluation emphasized the need to ensure that aspects of water security are represented in the results measurement framework, and project and program design. The IEO also stressed prioritizing the creation of sustainable financing mechanisms for scaling up interventions that successfully improve water security.
The strategic country cluster evaluation of the Lower Mekong River basin ecosystem indicated that the GEF is well positioned to continue contributing to regional transformation. It highlighted the need for additional efforts to: enhance coordination between the GEF, partner countries, and other bodies on the strategic regional priorities of the Mekong River Commission’s basin development strategy; and support longer-term sustainability by designing and implementing mechanisms for testing, replicating, and scaling up successful local outcomes and mainstreaming them at the national level.
Members applauded the reports, shared opinions on management responses, and expressed their support for the IEO’s four-year Work Program and budget.
In the afternoon, Council Members took a deep dive into the world of science with the report of the Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel (STAP). Rosina Bierbaum, STAP Chair, summarized new scientific reports and findings, presented information on STAP’s recent and future work, and provided STAP’s observations on the GEF’s Work Program. In their statements, Council Members expressed appreciation for the high-quality report.
Delegates then returned to informal discussions, trying to bridge remaining divergent views regarding the establishment of the GBF Fund, including its programming directions.
Due to time constraints and the heavy workload of the current Council meeting, GEF CEO and Chairperson Carlos Manuel Rodríguez suggested, and Council Members agreed to, an intersessional virtual Council Meeting, with dates to be decided on Thursday, to address three agenda items:
- GEF Strategy for Knowledge Management and Learning;
- Enhancing policy coherence through GEF operations; and
- Relations with the Conventions and other international institutions.