The 66th meeting of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Council adopted a USD 916 million Work Program, comprising 45 projects and programs that will benefit 77 countries, including 22 least developed countries (LDCs) and 14 small island developing States (SIDS). Convening for the first time as the Council of the Global Biodiversity Framework Fund (GBFF), the GEF Council took the steps needed to make the Fund operational to finance the implementation of the Kunming-Montreal GBF.

The Work Program is the second largest in the GEF’s history. It will support actions for the ocean, food systems, transportation infrastructure, wildlife conservation, and critical forest biomes.

The Council of the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) and Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF) also endorsed USD 203 million for 21 climate change adaptation projects.

The Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) summary report of the meeting highlights that the GBFF Council approved the Fund’s resource allocation and resource cycle policies, as well as its administrative budget and business plan for 2024-2025. However, members were unable to agree on the terms of reference for the advisory groups and auxiliary body for the GBFF, which will be discussed further at the Council’s next meeting.

To capitalize the Fund, Spain joined Canada, Germany, Japan, and the UK in announcing pledges, which now total USD 219.2 million.

In addition, the GEF Council adopted initial guidelines for enabling activities and ratification support projects for the International Legally Binding Instrument 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), known as the high seas treaty.

Concluding years-long discussion, the Council adopted a Risk Appetite Statement “to encourage the GEF Partnership to take more risk and innovate more in GEF investments.” The Council also took initial steps in streamlining the GEF project cycle and setting up an ad hoc working group to propose further measures.

The Council also discussed, inter alia:

  • tracking and measuring socioeconomic co-benefits from GEF investments;
  • how to improve GEF support for drylands countries;
  • GEF-funded activity and engagement in fragility-, conflict-, and violence-affected states; and
  • guiding principles for learning from challenges in GEF projects.

The GEF a family of funds that also includes the GEF Trust Fund, the Nagoya Protocol Implementation Fund, and the Capacity Building Initiative for Transparency (CBIT) Trust Fund. The 66th meeting of the GEF Council, the 35th meeting of the LDCF/SCCF Council, and the first meeting of the GBFF Council took place from 5-9 February 2024 in Washington, D.C., US. [ENB Coverage of 66th Meeting of the GEF Council]