On its final day, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Council, meeting as the first Global Biodiversity Framework Fund (GBFF) Council, completed the work needed to make the GBFF operational in the upcoming weeks. The Council approved the GBFF Project Cycle Policy providing for a streamlined project cycle for all GBFF projects, and the FY24 and FY25 administrative budget and business plan vis-à-vis the Fund. A spirited debate about the terms of reference (ToR) for the Fund’s Advisory Group and Auxiliary Body did not result in consensus and had to be forwarded to the next Council for further discussion.
The decision on the GBFF Project Cycle Policy approves a streamlined project cycle tailored to the guidance from the Conference of Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the programming directions provided by the GEF Council in June 2023. In a nutshell, GEF Implementing Agencies will have nine months from GEF CEO endorsement of a project preparation grant (PPG) to fully prepare projects. Projects by the GEF Secretariat can be included in Work Programs to be approved by the GBFF Council. Projects with comments from the CBD Secretariat, GBFF Council Members, or the GEF Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel (STAP) will have three months to address them.
The Policy decision also delegates authority to the GEF CEO to approve projects up to USD 5 million and requires midterm reviews for all projects above USD 2 million.
The decision on the FY24 and FY25 administrative budget and business plan covers the GEF Secretariat, the Trustee, the STAP, and the Independent Evaluation Office (IEO) vis-à-vis the GBFF.
The ToR proposals were the subject of spirited debate. Members reached general agreement on issues such as the need for the group and body to hold virtual meetings and to establish a rotation mechanism to enable institutional knowledge transfer. They diverged, however, on issues such as whether to reduce or expand the number of experts in the Auxiliary Body and whether the composition of the Advisory Group should be open to non-sovereign participants or only non-sovereign contributors. Given the lack of consensus, as per the Council rules of procedure, the agenda item was referred to the next Council for further discussion.
During closing, Council Members applauded the decision to appoint Geeta Batra as the new IEO Director and expressed appreciation to Council Secretary William Ehlers for his years of service to GEF after CEO Carlos Manuel Rodríguez announced Ehlers will be retiring.