CSO Consultation Discusses GEF2020 Strategy Ahead of Council Meeting

Naoko Ishii, GEF CEO and Chairperson4 November 2013: The GEF Council Consultation Meeting with Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) convened on 4 November 2013, the day before the 45th meeting of the GEF Council opened in Washington, DC, US. During an opening dialogue, Global Environment Facility (GEF) CEO and Chairperson Naoko Ishii discussed the GEF 2020 strategy and emphasized that it is important to have a long-term strategy encompassing an environmental degradation driver-focused approach. She also welcomed Conservation International and WWF-US as two new GEF Project Agencies.

During a discussion of policy and guidelines, Andrew Velthaus, GEF, reviewed a study of compliance with the Environmental and Social Safeguards and Gender Mainstreaming policies by GEF Agencies, and noted that many Agencies met all or most of the standards. Recommendations presented in a discussion of a Review of the GEF Policy on Public Involvement (PIP) included calling for the GEF to set clear minimum standards for public involvement that will be mandatory for all projects, and for clear stakeholder engagement plans and formal mechanisms for documenting and exchanging good practice. Robert van den Berg, GEF Evaluation Office, reflected on the future of CSO engagement in the GEF and outputs from the fifth Overall Performance Study GEF/OPS 5. He highlighted that, on full size projects, a sufficient number of CSOs are involved in execution and implementation, but for medium sized projects, he said engagement is declining. He also highlighted difficulties in keeping track of CSO engagement due to a lack of clear definition of CSOs. Lucy Mulenkei, GEF Indigenous Peoples (IPs) Advisory Group, presented on progress in implementing guidelines on IPs, noting that approximately 160 medium and full size projects involve IPs, while 15% Small Grants Programme (SGP) involve IPs.

During a dialogue on the future strategic role of GEF, Andrew Steer, President, World Resources Institute (WRI), suggested asking tougher questions regarding impact and whether the GEF is getting the leverage that it should, and spending “so that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” Claus Pram Astrup, GEF Secretariat, provided an overview of the GEF2020 Strategy, feedback to date and the next steps. He said comments on the GEF2020 Strategy have included: are we moving too fast towards dealing with root causes?; are we moving away from our key obligations under the conventions?; how does GEF2020 fit with GEF 6?; can we really make a difference on drivers?; and what about specific GEF focus areas, like gender, adaptation, and others?

A panel of GEF Council members followed by a panel of GEF Agency representatives then offered their impressions of the GEF2020 Strategy. Panelists noted a continuing role for the GEF in climate finance, despite the creation of other climate funds. One speaker suggested that the GEF could focus on biodiversity and ecosystems in the next four years, given that climate change is on the radar screen of policy makers and the private sector. Another speaker suggested investing in knowledge creation, documenting knowledge and using it in projects. Other issues raised included: the need for GEF funds to match ambitions; GEF's comparative advantage in having well established capacities to do multi-focal work; and the need to address hidden drivers including market and institutional failures. A CSO panel member emphasized specific CSO concerns on the Strategy, highlighting the need for a realistic balance of drivers and a focus on global demand, among other elements.

The 45th meeting of the GEF Council will take place from 5-7 November 2013. [IISD RS coverage of CSO Consultation and 45th meeting of the GEF Council] [GEF Council Documents]