From June 26th to 29th, 2023, Brasilia, Brazil, witnessed an extraordinary gathering of over 400 participants from around the globe for the 64th Meeting of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Council. Amidst the daunting challenges posed by climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution, the Council Members convened to chart a path towards safeguarding our planet and ensuring a sustainable future for all.
Throughout the event, the commitment and tenacity of the Council Members were evident as they embarked on extensive negotiations, seeking solutions to the pressing environmental crises. The result was a historic achievement, marked by three pivotal decisions that herald a new era of environmental protection:
- Unprecedented Funding: The Council proudly adopted a record-breaking Work Program, allocating a staggering USD 1.4 billion. This substantial investment will benefit 136 countries through 45 carefully curated projects and programs. A crucial aspect of the initiative is the strong co-financing element, fostering collaboration and commitment across nations.
- Global Biodiversity Framework Fund: In a significant development, the Council reached an agreement to establish the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) Fund. This momentous decision reflects the collective determination to succeed in halting and reversing biodiversity loss by 2030. The GBF, established at the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP15) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), comprises four overarching goals and 23 ambitious targets. Its successful implementation hinges on the GBF Fund, set to be formally launched during the GEF Assembly in Vancouver, Canada, in August 2023. This Fund is poised to bolster national-level biodiversity management, policy, and finance approaches, vital for translating the GBF’s vision into impactful action.
- Advancing Ocean Conservation: The Council’s groundbreaking decision also prepares the GEF to serve as part of the financial mechanism for the new international legally binding implementing agreement under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ Agreement). This landmark agreement is not just another UNCLOS implementing accord; it represents a momentous stride towards ocean conservation and the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As hailed by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, the BBNJ Agreement breathes new life into our precious oceans at a critical juncture when they face unprecedented threats.
The GEF’s expanded role as a pivotal multilateral environmental fund, responsible for financing several critical environmental conventions, elevates its significance within and beyond the environmental community. The Council’s deliberations underscored the pressing need for collaborative and innovative solutions in the face of mounting global challenges.
Beyond these decisions, the Council Members addressed various key items on their agenda. The adoption of the GEF Business Plan and Budget for fiscal year 2024 and the appraisal of the GEF’s strategy and portfolio in water security underlined the organization’s strategic approach. Additionally, the Council discussed and reviewed the Independent Evaluation Office (IEO)’s four-year Work Program and Budget, ensuring transparency and accountability in their initiatives.
The 34th Council meeting of the Least Developed Countries Fund/Special Climate Change Fund (LDCF/SCCF) complemented the GEF Council’s endeavors by focusing on crucial issues such as the Funds’ Work Program, progress report, and administrative budget and business plan for fiscal year 2024.
The 64th Meeting of the GEF Council marked a pivotal moment in the global pursuit of environmental preservation and sustainability. The decisions made during this landmark event will not only shape the future of our planet but also inspire a new era of collaboration and innovation among nations. As we navigate the challenges ahead, the GEF and the GEF CSO Network stand resolute in their commitment to steering humanity towards a greener, more sustainable world. Together, we can create a legacy of environmental stewardship for generations to come.