Philippines haggles for Least Developed Countries to seize bigger chunk of the Global Environment Facility Round 8

The Philippines has supported the interest of Least Developed Countries (LDC) and Small Island Development states (SIDs) to seize a significant chunk of the “green” funding from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) which is in its eighth round of funding replenishment.

As the pandemic has hit harder on LDCs and SIDs, the Philippine government, represented by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to the GEF talks, has supported the fund’s System for Transparent Allocation of Resources (STAR).

“On STAR, (Philippines recommends) general support for full flexibility, inclusion of the vulnerability index, and increased allocation for vulnerable countries, LDCs and SIDS,” according to  “GEF Asia Post Replenishment Debrief.”

The world has faced greater challenges these times as global temperature is estimated to be 1.1 degrees Centigrade above pre-industrial times.  As the world could cross the 2 degrees Centigrade threshold by 2050, GEF supports funding for projects that achieve global goals against global warming.

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

The funding for green projects is estimated to reach $6.5 billion for this eighth round of replenishment.

For this cycle’s second meeting, Philippines-DENR’s Analiza Rebuelta-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 of countries on the ground. 

This especially applies among LDCs and SIDS which need more assistance especially due to the pandemic.

DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said the country also 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.

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-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 for GEF’s eighth round:

  1. Intensified support for countries in their blue (ocean) and green (forestry) recoveries with the pandemic recovery factored in the GEF strategy
  2.  Inclusion of fragile and conflict afflicted countries in the design and implementation of projects in these countries.
  3. Mobilization of private sector in the environment goals and the role of NGI and blended finance in this effort
  4. Inclusion of indicators on co-benefits of climate adaptation, private sector engagement and sustainability
  5. 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.  (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)

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