Marking 30 years of support for environmental action worldwide, the Global Environment Facility’s member governments will meet next week to consider their next steps to build a nature-positive, carbon-neutral, and pollution-free future.

The GEF Council and Least Developed Countries Fund Council meetings will be held virtually as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Representatives of 184 countries will review a $191 million work program that would fund initiatives enabling developing countries to address biodiversity loss, climate change, and land degradation, and to improve the management of international waters, chemicals, and waste. It will be the second-to-last financing tranche to be released under GEF-7, the four-year funding period which ends in June 2022.

If approved, the latest GEF-7 work program will provide grants and blended finance for 43 countries, expected to benefit 25 million people in the project areas while generating global environmental gains.

The new work program reflects the GEF’s commitment to tackling environmental challenges in an integrated way – for instance, through support for nature-based solutions that will help Cabo Verde improve food security, livelihoods, and resilience in communities hard-hit by the pandemic.

GEF CEO and Chairperson Carlos Manuel Rodriguez said this “seascapes and landscapes” approach will also color the support provided under GEF-8, which will run from July 2022 to June 2026. Discussions over the size and scope of the multilateral fund’s eighth replenishment are ongoing.

“In this moment of high ambition and significant momentum for environmental action, we are looking forward to a successful conclusion of the GEF-7 funding cycle and a bold approach going forward,” he said. “When the GEF was launched 30 years ago, it forged a new path to make collaboration on the global environment possible. We now have an impressive track record of results, learning, and strong relationships to build upon, and our ambition for GEF-8 is significantly higher. What  needs to be accomplished in the next decade is of a different size and scale entirely.”

During the Council meetings, delegates will consider highlights from the GEF’s 30-year history, including results from its Impact Programs supporting sustainable forest management, cities, and food systems, and its landmark projects to protect biodiversity, combat illicit wildlife trafficking, reduce toxic exposure to mercury and other chemicals, engage Indigenous and local communities in conservation, and more.

They will also hear from representatives of the international conventions that the GEF financially supports, from the Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel, and from the GEF Independent Evaluation Office, which will present the findings of its seventh comprehensive evaluation of the GEF. Young environmental leaders from around the world will share their priorities and ideas for improvement in a dedicated Civil Society Consultation, preceded by a knowledge management session focused on finding ways to increase training and learning opportunities across the partnership.

In the LDCF Council meetings, to be held immediately after the GEF Council meetings, member countries will also consider $20 million for three climate adaptation projects supported by the Least Developed Countries Fund. Those initiatives would help Malawi, Sao Tome and Principe, and Solomon Islands. To date, 44 Least Developed Countries have accessed funding from the LDCF during the GEF-7 cycle.

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