Philippines leads Asia in GEF-8 fund replenishment talks; GEF 8 ushers developing countries to meet environment goals amid pandemic

November 3, 2021

The Philippines has led the Asia Region in the Global Environment Facility (GEF)-8 Fund Replenishment talks that will usher developing countries to meet international environment goals amid recovery efforts from the pandemic.

   The GEF-8 second global meeting, held virtually from September 29 to October 1, comes at a crucial time as the world is in the COVID crisis recovery stage.

   Yet, global goals have to be attained while in the peak of new challenges on biodiversity, climate change, harmful chemicals, among other focal points of the multilateral trust fund.

   DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said the country faces significant challenges in financing projects for  intensified environment protection against the pandemic and climate-related calamities.

   “There is a need to mobilize more resources to finance climate action and intensified environmental protection amidst the Covid 19 pandemic.  GEF-8 is an opportunity that the countries should tap for this,” Cimatu said.

   The Philippines, represented by DENR Undersecretary Analiza Rebuelta-Teh to the GEF-8 talks, looks forward to sustained funding for its environment projects from this next cycle.

   GEF-8’s next four-year cycle spans from July 2022 to June 2026.

   GEF-8 can balloon to $6.5 billion given an increase in allocation for non grant instruments (NGI) and Small Grants Program (SGP). The allocation is meant to support private sector and civil society participation in NGI and SGP.

   The GEF was created 30 years ago to enable developing countries to address priorities such as deforestation, desertification, climate change, biodiversity loss, and ozone depletion.

   For this cycle’s second meeting, Philippines-DENR’s Teh  represented the GEF Asia Region being the Asia observer for GEF Asia GEF Operational Focal Point for the Philippines . 

   The region includes Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Iraq, Jordan, Laos, Lebanon, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Thailand, Viet Nam, Indonesia, Syria, and Yemen.

   With a united stand, the Asian Region has brought to the consciousness of  GEF its support for the vulnerability index as a factor in the prioritization of  GEF funding of projects.

   The vulnerability index under the System for Transparent Allocation of Resources (STAR)

is important in determining the real economic issues on the ground. 

   This especially applies among Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Development States (SIDSs).

   The Philippines has brought to GEF’s attention the need to increase support for LDCs and SIDSs

   The GEF-8 $6.5 billion scenario allocates the biggest chunk for biodiversity, 34%, followed by climate change, 15%; chemicals and wastes, 14%; international waters, 12%; and land degradation, 11%. An allocation of $157 million is being made for SGI and $256 million for SGP.  

   The following are among Asia’s other recommendations:

1.      Intensified support for countries in their blue (ocean) and green (forestry) recoveries with the pandemic recovery factored in the GEF strategy

2.      Mobilization of private sector in the environment goals and the role of NGI and blended finance in this effort

3.      Inclusion of indicators on co-benefits of climate adaptation, private sector engagement and sustainability

4.      Criteria setting for participation of all GEF agencies in Integrated Programs; concrete measures to reduce transaction costs; provide analysis of GEF agencies administrative costs; explore and address why MDBs (multilateral development banks) receive less GEF funding

   In its most recent funding period, the GEF has provided about $1 billion a year for projects managed by 18 partner agencies alongside national governments.

   Addressing representatives of the GEF’s 184 member-governments, CEO and Chairperson Carlos Manuel Rodriguez made the case for an ambitious GEF-8 replenishment. 

   Such should match the goals of international environmental negotiations and dial back imminent risks to the world’s forests, landscapes, oceans, rivers, and remaining wild spaces.

   “The GEF is prepared to help deliver the political ambition that is emerging from your countries in the negotiations on biodiversity, chemicals, and climate change,” he said.    

   “Being bold and ambitious in what we aim for in GEF-8 is about impact – it is about results – on the ground and in the water,” Rodriguez said. “Our role is to provide donor countries with great opportunities to make an impact, and to provide recipient countries with great outcomes through well-designed projects that can be scaled.”

   The replenishment negotiation process serves as venue for the donor countries to discuss and negotiate financial allocation sharing for the upcoming GEF replenishment cycle.

    It also provides the opportunity to review GEF performance and evaluate progress, assess future funding needs of the member-countries, and to agree on the GEF financing framework.

   Replenishment meetings are attended by representatives from four clusters of non-donor recipient countries (regions of Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and Central Asia), NGOs (non government organizations) and the private sector.

   World Bank Vice President of Development Finance Akihiko Nishio said the discussions were happening at a moment where it was clear that the world needed to shift from established patterns contributing to environmental harm.

   “GEF-8 comes at a challenging time with unprecedented environmental challenges ahead of us. Now more than ever, business as usual will not work,” Nishio said. “We have an opportunity with this replenishment process for the GEF to take bold, decisive action, and enable developing countries to tackle the world’s considerable environmental threats in a way that generates benefits beyond national borders.”

   Rodriguez said that meeting the goals of the Convention on Biological Diversity, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, the Minamata Convention on Mercury, the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants would require additional funding.

   GEF8 should provide greater outcomes under the GEF focal areas (biodiversity, climate change, land degradation, international waters, and chemicals and wastes) and the newly enhanced integrated programs.

   A key strategy to realize these goals is to intensify efforts to achieve better policy coherence, political consistency, and good governance.  GEF should bring together the government, the civil society, and the private sector leaders which have significant impact in addressing the roots of environmental degradation.

    The Third GEF-8 Replenishment Meeting will be held in February 2022 followed by the Fourth, and last Replenishment Meeting in April-May 2022.  (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)

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