The need for support to new, key environmental agreements and frameworks took center stage during the last day of negotiations at the 64th Council meeting of the Global Environment Facility (GEF). Council Members were able to agree on establishment of the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) Fund, including its programming directions. They further reached consensus on preparing the GEF to serve as part of the financial mechanism of the new international legally binding implementing agreement, under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ Agreement).
Discussions in the morning focused on preparing the GEF to serve as part of the financial mechanism of the BBNJ Agreement, which was concluded in June 2023 and will open for signature in September 2023. Many Council Members highlighted the importance of the BBNJ Agreement to address the multiple Ocean-related challenges, and supported the GEF operating as part of its financial mechanism. They stressed that the GEF’s vast experience and expertise would enable robust implementation, and underscored the support required to ensure that the necessary ratifications are obtained for the Agreement’s timely entry into force. Some Members emphasized the need to promote complementarity and coherence, and to avoid duplicating work. Others highlighted the need for support to developing countries in terms of capacity building and transfer of marine technology for effective implementation.
Discussions on the establishment of the GBF Fund were more demanding. Members devoted much of the day to resolving remaining disagreements in informal settings, having already engaged in lengthy informal discussions over the course of the week that enabled enhanced mutual understanding of respective positions.
The GEF Council resumed in the evening. Members approved the establishment of the GBF Fund, including its programming directions. The GEF Assembly will ratify the decision and formally launch the Fund during its meeting in Vancouver, Canada, in August 2023.
David Cooper, Acting Executive Secretary, Convention on Biological Diversity, highlighted that the Council’s decision sends “a clear signal that we are all determined to succeed” on the GBF. He welcomed the consideration given to the role of Indigenous Peoples and local communities as irreplaceable biodiversity stewards, and the commitment to support them and their actions according to their own priorities.
Council Members also adopted decisions on:
- the GEF Business Plan and Corporate Budget for the fiscal year 2024; and
- the Four-Year Work Program and Budget of the GEF Independent Evaluation Office (IEO): GEF-8.
The 34th meeting of the Least Developed Countries Fund and Special Climate Change Fund (LDCF/SCCF) took place in the morning. Elected Chairperson Tom Bui, Canada, opened the meeting, suggesting that, due to time constraints, the annual monitoring review of the LDCF/SCCF for the fiscal year 2022 would be addressed during the next Council meeting. Members agreed to this and focused their attention on:
- the Work Program for the LDCF/SCCF, welcoming the enhanced focus on mainstreaming gender considerations;
- the Progress Report on the LDCF/SCCF, discussing the benefits of multilingualism in overcoming accessibility barriers;
- the LDCF/SCCF Administrative Budget and Business Plan for the fiscal year 2024; and
- the Four-Year Work Program and Budget for the IEO Under the LDCF and SCCF.
In closing remarks, GEF CEO and Chairperson Carlos Manuel Rodríguez underscored the hard work undertaken over the last few days and months, and expressed gratitude to the Council for reaching successful outcomes.