7th GEF Assembly

Highlights and images for 23 August 2023

Vancouver, Canada

Global Environment Facility - GEF

Reflecting on the devastation of recent and ongoing wildfires, as well as the role of fire as a place for gathering, connecting, and storytelling, panelists contributed words to stoke an imaginary bonfire, including empathy, love, friendship, inspiration, energy, and collaboration during the first-ever Global Environment Facility (GEF) Partnership Forum. Forum participants also shared their personal stories  in an “intergenerational fireside chat” format. The Forum  brought together Indigenous Peoples, youth, women, and representatives of civil society organizations to discuss ways the GEF can support their recognition and empowerment. The Seventh GEF Assembly formally opened in the evening. 

Want to dig deeper? Read the full Earth Negotiations Bulletin daily report.

During the Partnership Forum, In three breakout “Confab” groups, participants considered intergenerational collaboration, women’s leadership in environmental action, and Indigenous stewardship of the global environment. Key takeaways included calls for:

  • attention, support, and funding of women’s participation and recognition that “representation” is not just “participation”;
  • inclusion of youth in the design and implementation of projects and development of a strategy for engaging youth;
  • changing the principle of “do no harm” to “do good” in engagement with Indigenous Peoples; and
  • a study on overlap between Indigenous Peoples’ lands and biodiversity hotspots.

The 23 winners of the GEF Assembly Inclusive Challenge Program were also announced. This initiative recognizes and supports the key role of community-based and civil society actors in delivering inclusive benefits for people and ecosystems, building on Canada’s vision to ensure the Assembly empowers underrepresented groups driving action on the ground to tackle climate change and protect nature.

In closing the Partnership Forum, GEF CEO and Chairperson Carlos Manuel Rodríguez emphasized the theme of inclusion, noting civil society’s rightful place in the main hall of the GEF Assembly. Responding to Rodríguez’ call for a more inclusive financial mechanism that takes a whole-of-society approach, GEF Co-Chair Tom Bui announced his support for the proposal to make civil society, Indigenous Peoples, women, and youth an integral part of the GEF family.

The legacy of Gustavo Fonseca was also honored through the newly established Gustavo Fonseca Youth Conservation Fellowship Program.

In the evening, the 7th GEF Assembly officially opened on the traditional and unceded territory of the Squamish Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw, Musqueam xʷməθkʷəy̓əm and Tsleil-Waututh səlilwətaɬ Nations with Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Musqueam Nations welcome songs and dances.

Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment & Climate Change, acknowledged the environmental crises Canada is facing, emphasizing that “through the haze of smoke, the repercussions are clear.” He underscored the importance of global collaboration, including through the Global Biodiversity Framework, calling it biodiversity’s “Paris moment.”

Opening 10- GEF7 - 23 Aug 2023 - Photo

Carlos Manuel Rodríguez, GEF CEO and Chairperson

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All ENB photos are free to use with attribution. For the 7th GEF Assembly, please use: Photo by IISD/ENB | Angeles Estrada.

Event organised by


Non-state coalitions