Highlights and images for 27 November 2017

United States of America


Representatives from civil society organizations (CSOs) and members of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Council convened on Monday, 27 November 2017, at the World Bank headquarters in Washington, DC, for a dialogue on issues related to the 53rd meeting of the GEF Council. The consultation took place the day before the Council meeting opened.

Victor Kawanga, GEF-CSO Network Chair, opened the Consultation and introduced Akhteruzzaman Sano, GEF-CSO Network Vice Chair. Sano provided an overview of Network activities, including a session on knowledge management, national and regional level engagement, and strengthening indigenous peoples’ contributions at the local level.

IISD Reporting Services, through its ENB+ Meeting Coverage, has provided daily web coverage and a summary report from the GEF Council Consultation Meeting with CSOs, the 53rd GEF Council Meeting, and the 23rd Meeting of the LDCF/SCCF Council. The summary report is now available in HTML and PDF.

Photos by IISD/ENB | Leila Mead
For photo reprint permissions, please follow instructions at our Attribution Regulations for Meeting Photo Usage Page

Session 1: CSO Dialogue with the GEF CEO and Chairperson

Naoko Ishii, GEF Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Chairperson, highlighted engagement by the GEF at recent Conferences of the Parties (COPs) to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), Minamata Convention on Mercury, and UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). She highlighted the launch of the Land Degradation Neutrality Fund (LDN Fund) at the UNCCD COP, noting that it provides an effective way forward for the GEF to integrate land, soil, and forests in its activities. On UNFCCC COP 23, she reflected on the increased effectiveness of coalitions at the subnational level among diverse stakeholders. On the way forward, she noted the need to strengthen: integration at all levels; private sector and multi-coalition platforms; gender policy; stakeholder engagement; and an updated CSO vision. CSO representatives then exchanged views on: strengthening the role and support for CSOs in the work of the GEF; the format of the upcoming GEF Assembly; elements for consideration in Operational Programme 7 (OP7); and guidance on engagement of the private sector.

Group photo of participants at the GEF-CSO dialogue

Naoko Ishii, GEF CEO and Chairperson

Victor Kawanga, Chair, GEF-CSO Network

Essam Nada, former Chair of GEF-CSO Network

Akhteruzzaman Sano, Vice-Chair, GEF-CSO Network, and Victor Kawanga, Chair, GEF-CSO Network

Victor Kawanga, Chair, GEF-CSO Network, Naoko Ishii, GEF CEO and Chairperson, and Pilar Barrera Rey, GEF Secretariat

A view of the room during the CSO dialogue with the GEF CEO

Session 2: Setting the Stage for GEF-7

This panel discussed the findings from the sixth comprehensive evaluation of the GEF (OPS6) and heard an update on the seventh replenishment process (GEF-7). The discussion was co-moderated by Nana Janashia, Regional Focal Point (RFP) for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and Brice Böhmer, RFP for Europe.

Juha Uitto, GEF Independent Evaluation Office (IEO), presented findings from OPS6. He highlighted the GEF’s comparative advantages, which include: relevance to multiple conventions and a range of environmental issues; its history of good performance and ability to address linkages between focal areas; and its ability to create transformational change through legal and regulatory reforms and to deliver innovative financial models and risk-sharing approaches.

Gustavo Fonseca, GEF Secretariat, noted that two GEF-7 meetings have taken place to receive input on proposals for programming during the next replenishment period. He said three impact programs are under consideration, namely: land use, food systems and restoration; sustainable cities; and sustainable forest management. The next meeting will take place at the end of January 2018, in Brasilia, Brazil. Akhteruzzaman Sano, RFP Southeast Asia, presented the economics of gender mainstreaming, citing a US$12 trillion global loss due to gender discrimination. He noted the benefits of empowering women prior to project implementation outweigh the costs.

During Q&A, presenters described how: GEF-7 can improve project sustainability; inclusive participation for indigenous peoples will be retained; projects were evaluated for transformational impact; and financial allocations for focal areas are formulated.

During the panel discussion, Zaheer Fakir, South Africa, highlighted the GEF’s expanding mandate without a resource increase of corresponding magnitude. Stephen Gold, UNDP, underscored how UNDP’s new strategic plan aligns closely with the GEF planning documents. Victor Kawanga, Chair GEF-CSO Network, advocated for more resources for the Small Grants Programme (SGP), noting its importance to CSOs. Robert Bakiika, RFP Eastern Africa, and Lucy Mulenki, Chair, Indigenous Peoples Advisory Group (IPAG), stressed the importance of creating a clear picture of civil society’s role.

Dais during the introduction to the session (L-R): Juha Uitto, GEF Independent Evaluation Office (IEO); Nana Janashia, RFP for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, GEF-CSO Network; Brice Böhmer, RFP for Europe, GEF-CSO Network; and Gustavo Fonseca, GEF Secretariat

Gustavo Fonseca, GEF Secretariat

Juha Uitto, GEF IEO, and Nana Janashia, RFP for Eastern Europe and Central Asia

GEF Council members during the session

Viacheslav Tsuprykov, National Academy of Medical Sciences of Ukraine and 'Save the Bees, Save the World' (right)

Panel discussion (L-R): Lucy Mulenki, Chair, GEF Indigenous Peoples Advisory Group (IPAG); Victor Kawanga, Chair, GEF-CSO Network; Nana Janashia, RFP for Eastern Europe and Central Asia; Brice Böhmer, RFP for Europe; Zaheer Fakir, GEF Council member, South Africa; Stephen Gold, UN Development Programme (UNDP); and Robert Bakiika, RFP East Africa

Zaheer Fakir, GEF Council member, South Africa

Lucy Mulenki, Chair, IPAG

A screenshot during the presentation of Stephen Gold, UNDP

Stephen Gold, UN Development Programme (UNDP)

Session 3: An Updated Vision to Enhance Civil Society Engagement with the GEF

Fiu Elisara, RFP for the Pacific, introduced this session. Peter Wisner, Chair, Ad Hoc Council Working Group on GEF and Civil Society, presented the Updated Vision, emphasizing the need to strengthen CSO engagement at all stages of the GEF processes, from project design to implementation. He highlighted key recommendations, including: selection process and criteria for CSO representation at Council meetings, which may consider experience and continuity of representatives; structure of CSO meetings to be focused on topics that could be used to inform Council proceedings; and the inclusion of CSO interventions during Council meetings rather than at the end of each session.

Lalit Mohan, RFP for South Asia, GEF CSO Network Secretariat provided an update of the work of the Network and highlighted, among others, the need for enhanced CSO engagement with the GEF at COPs to various Multilateral Environment Agreements (MEAs) and the SDG Framework. He presented recommendations made by the Network to the Council, including: continued inclusion of a specific agenda item related to engagement of civil society during Council meetings; continued funding through the Expanded Constituency Workshops (ECW) mechanism; strengthening of the GEF Secretariat Draft Stakeholder Engagement Policy based on inputs of the Network Members and Working Group members; and establishment of a sustainable financing mechanism for the GEF-CSO Network. Discussions focused on various issues relating to the procedures for the selection and arrangements for CSOs representation at Council meetings, consultations, and ECWs.​

During the case studies presentation on CSO experience and challenges in engaging in GEF processes, Yoko Watanabe, Global Manager, Small Grants Programme (SGP), discussed the 25-year history of the SGP, which has worked in 125 countries and supported 21,600 projects. She emphasized the role of social inclusion in these projects, including gender and youth. Sasha Middleton, Marine Ecosystem Protected Areas Trust, Antigua and Barbuda, discussed efforts to ensure a bottom-up perspective in projects, including by assisting local groups with legal registration and technical and financial assistance, and involving youth in activities. She also highlighted efforts to take visiting donors to GEF-funded project sites, to meet project recipients. Sana Taktak, Association of Generations Continuity, Tunisia, discussed a Women Empowerment and Sustainable Development project that has helped create a women’s collective for collecting clams and engaged in capacity building in the sector.

During a subsequent panel, Baljit Wadhwa, GEF IEO, discussed the evaluation of the GEF-CSO Network, and noted that the vision statement does not provide an updated statement for the Network per se, but does provide a vision for CSO engagement more broadly. Robert Bakiika, RFP for Eastern Africa, noted challenges for RFPs in carrying out their responsibilities for the Network in addition to their own organizational responsibilities. Gonzalo Oviedo, indigenous peoples representative, highlighted that Indigenous Peoples have well-established procedures for self-selection of representatives that should be taken into account.

Sana Taktak, Associations of Generations Continuity, Tunisia; Lalit Mohan, RFP for South Asia; Co-Moderator Fiu Elisara, RFP for the Pacific; Co-Moderator Peter Wisner, Chair, Ad Hoc Council Working Group; Yoko Watanabe, Small Grants Programme Manager; and Sasha Gay Middleton, Marine Ecosystem Protected Area (MEPA) Trust, Antigua and Barbuda


Peter Wisner, Chair, Ad Hoc Council Working Group


Yoko Watanabe, Small Grants Programme Manager; and Sasha Gay Middleton, MEPA Trust, Antigua and Barbuda

Sana Taktak, Associations of Generations Continuity, Tunisia

Lalit Mohan, RFP for South Asia

Baljit Wadhwa, GEF IEO, and Gonzalo Oviedo, Indigenous Peoples' representative

Sasha Gay Middleton, MEPA Trust, Antigua and Barbuda

Session 4: Updated GEF Policies

Mrinalini Rai, Global Forest Coalition, and Bertrand Bhikarry, RFP Caribbean, moderated this panel, which focused on gender equality and stakeholder engagement in GEF projects and processes.

Anna Viggh, GEF IEO, highlighted that the portion of gender-blind projects has decreased while gender-aware projects are increasing. She said the 2011 gender policy has improved gender considerations in GEF operations, but lacks a clear framework. Describing the updated gender policy, Gabriella Richardson Temm, GEF Secretariat, explained how the new framework will shift from “do no harm” to “do good,” establishing stronger gender analysis and reporting requirements, among others.

Pilar Barrera, GEF Secretariat, presented an updated stakeholder engagement policy up for approval at this Council meeting, to take effect July 2018. She outlined new requirements for agencies to provide indicative information on relevant stakeholders, formulate an engagement plan, and oversee implementation. Responding to questions, panelists addressed: quantifiable measures and indicators; grievance and appeals mechanisms; and protection for whistleblowers.

During a panel discussion, Nguavese Tracy Ogbonna, GEF-CSO Network (Gender), made several recommendations to strengthen gender participation, such as: inclusion of CSOs in all processes of the project and program cycle; integrating gender in monitoring, learning and capacity development; and enhancing agency policies, procedures and capabilities and compliance to reflect gender.

Discussions focused on the process of drafting the Gender Policy, with CSOs highlighting elements for inclusion and expressing concerns relating to some of the submissions not reflected in the draft. Essam Nada, GEF-CSO Network (Stakeholder Engagement), reflected on the Public Involvement Policy, which was initiated in 1996, and highlighted that it has evolved over the years. He referred to the integral role that GEF Secretariat, GEF Agencies and Government play in ensuring effective stakeholder engagement at all levels of the work of the GEF.

Victor Kawanga, Chair, GEF-CSO Network, thanked Council Members, the Secretariat and the GEF-CSO Network and closed the meeting at 5:54 pm.

A view of the dais during a discussion on gender equality and stakeholder engagement in GEF projects and policies (L-R): Pilar Barrera, GEF Secretariat; Anna Viggh, GEF IEO, making her presentation; Co-Moderator Mrinalini Rai, Global Forest Coalition; Gabriella Richardson, GEF Secretariat; and Co-Moderator Bertrand Bhikarry, RFP for the Caribbean

Nguavese Tracy Ogbonna, GEF-CSO Network presenting on gender, and Essam Nada, GEF-CSO Network presenting on stakeholder engagement

Gabriella Richardson, GEF Secretariat

Dialogue with Multilateral Environmental Agreement (MEA) Secretariats and the GEF

Participants at the 53rd meeting of the GEF Council convened in a dialogue with representatives from the Secretariats of multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) during the afternoon. Rolph Payet, Executive Secretary, BRS Secretariat, Claudia ten Have, Senior Programme Coordination Officer, Secretariat of the Minamata Convention on Mercury, Melchiade Bukuru, Chief of UNCCD Liaison Office, and Amy Fraenkel, Director, Mainstreaming, Cooperation and Outreach Division, CBD Secretariat, were invited to present key outcomes of recent Conferences of the Parties (COPs) related to the GEF, and issues to be taken into consideration for the remainder of the GEF-6 period and GEF-7 to facilitate the implementation of Conventions. The discussion also addressed the proposed Rio Conventions Project Preparation Facility, which the Executive Secretaries of the CBD, UNCCD, and UNFCCC called for establishing in a joint press release during the UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany, on 13 November 2017.

A view of the room during the dialogue with MEA Secretariats and the GEF during the presentation of Rolph Payet, Executive Secretary, BRS Secretariat (right)

Jozef Buys, GEF Council memeber, Belgium, Gustavo Fonseca, GEF Secretariat, and Chizuru Aoki, GEF Secretariat

Amy Fraenkel, CBD Secretariat, and Claudia ten Have, Minamata Convention Secretariat

Melchiade Bukuru, UNCCD Secretariat (left)