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GEF Council Approves Over $280M for Biodiversity, Climate, Chemicals, and Water

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By IISD’s SDG Knowledge Hub , June 23, 2021

The 60th meeting of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Council adopted a Work Program worth USD 281.1 million, with eight stand-alone, full-sized projects on international waters, four on biodiversity, three on climate change mitigation, and two on chemicals and waste. In total, the funding will support 33 projects and three programs. In addition, the 30th meeting of the Council for the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) and Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF) adopted a Work Program totaling USD 60.73 million for seven projects to address climate change adaptation priorities.

The three programs approved by the GEF Council are extensions of existing programs to add new countries, as follows:

  • Cabo Verde, Guinea-Bissau, and Sao Tomé and Principe to join the Implementing Sustainable Low- and Non-Chemical Development in Small Island Developing states (SIDS) Program (ISLANDS);
  • Benin, Chad, Mali, Niger, São Tomé and Príncipe, and Zambia to join the GEF-7 African Minigrids Program; and
  • Côte d’Ivoire, Ecuador, Guinea, Mali, Nicaragua, Sierra Leone, and Zambia to join Global Opportunities for Long-term Development of Artisanal and Small-scale Gold Mining Sector Plus Program (GOLD+).

The LDCF Work Program involves seven LDCs, five of which are accessing the LDCF for the first time during the GEF-7 period. The LDCF/SCCF Council also approved plans for developing a 2022-2026 climate change adaptation strategy for Council endorsement in June 2022.

These projects will contribute to efforts to address interlinked challenges laid out by Carlos Manuel Rodríguez, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Chairperson of the GEF, in his opening remarks to the 60th GEF Council meeting: climate change, biodiversity and wildlife habitat loss, land degradation, ocean pollution and depletion, and dangerous chemicals.

During a dialogue with the GEF Council, the themes of collaboration and the need for synergistic action were raised by the five Executive Secretaries from the conventions for which the GEF serves as a financial mechanism. Patricia Espinosa, UNFCCC Executive Secretary, highlighted that the GEF’s original mandate to serve the Convention and the Paris Agreement is now more crucial than ever, as we aim for enhanced global climate ambition in both mitigation and adaptation efforts. Ibrahim Thiaw, UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) Secretary, said land is an integrator for many of the GEF’s focal areas, and suggested making investments in early warning systems. He stated that the synergies agenda should be the “new normal” in GEF-8 replenishment programming. Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Executive Secretary, said key aspects of the zero draft of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework are relevant to the GEF, including calls for ensuring the participation of all stakeholders, and outreach and awareness-raising to ensure the uptake of the new biodiversity framework. 

Rolph Payet, Executive Secretary, BRS Conventions, noted that many toxic chemicals still need to be eliminated, including DDT. He reviewed the Conventions’ funding needs for GEF-8, and noted that the Stockholm Convention’s Review Committee has begun looking at additives in plastics that threaten human health and cause environmental damage. He discussed the interlinkages among chemicals management, biodiversity, and climate change. For example, he noted that lithium mining takes place in forests, requiring the construction of roads, with follow-on impacts on biodiversity and climate change. 

Monika Stankiewicz, Executive Secretary, Minamata Convention, highlighted that investing in any GEF focal area provides support for other focal areas, while underinvestment in one focal area puts other focal areas at risk. She stated that the Convention would be in a position to generate greater global environmental benefits from mercury emission reductions in GEF-8, with transformative change in trade and supply chains relative to mercury. She also touched on the widespread economic and social benefits of full implementation of the Minamata Convention and the “enormous” costs of not fulfilling the treaty obligations. Countries’ work to protect human health and the environment from the harmful effects of mercury use and emissions must be part of the blue and green recovery, she said.

The Executive Secretaries also discussed planning for the next meetings of their respective COPs. The CBD is expected to convene COP 15 in Kunming, China, in October 2021. The UNFCCC is expected to convene COP 26 in Glasgow, UK, in November 2021. The UNCCD postponed its COP 15 from late 2021 to the first half of 2022, and expects to announce the date and venue soon. Both the combined meetings of the COPs to the BRS Conventions and the fourth meeting of the COP to the Minamata Convention will convene virtually in 2021, followed by in-person events in 2022.

The Council’s adoption of a decision regarding a long-term vision on complementarity, coherence, and collaboration between the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and the GEF was also highlighted as an important opportunity for collaboration and building synergies.

In addition to the decisions on the Work Program and collaboration with the GCF, the Council agreed to take action on recommendations included in several evaluation reports conducted by the Independent Evaluation Office (IEO) of the GEF. The Council was also updated on the Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel’s (STAP) recent work, its evaluation of the GEF Work Program and programming proposals for the GEF-8 replenishment, and the STAP’s plans for the coming months.  

The GEF Council meeting took place online from 14-18 June 2021. The next meeting of the Council will take place in December 2021. [ENB summary of 60th meeting of the GEF Council]