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  GEF-CSO consultation meeting, 1 November 2013

The GEF Council-CSO consultation was attended by more than 120 participants encompassing representatives from civil society, GEF Council members, GEF Agencies and GEF Secretariat. View the agenda for the consultation.


Session 1 : CSO Dialogue with CEO of GEF, Dr. Naoko Ishii

 Moderated by Faizal Parish and Victor Kawanga, GEF-NGO Network

In his welcoming address, Faizal Parish, GEF-NGO Network Central Focal Point, remarked that the timing of the meeting is strategic since GEF 5 is coming to an end and the GEF 6 replenishment discussions was on going.

Naoko Ishii, GEF CEO and Chairperson, discussed the two important ongoing strategic exercises; the GEF6 Replenishment and GEF 2020 strategy. She thanked the GEF-NGO Network representatives, Faizal Parish and Guenter for the valuable feedback into the replenishment meeting.  On the GEF2020, she emphasized that it is important to have a long-term strategy encompassing an environmental degradation driver-focused approach and she welcome input from the CSOs. She stressed that GEF success hinders on the ability to maximize the potential of partnership, and GEF will continue to engage civil society. She also commented that the numbers of CSOs that executed projects have not really fluctuated over time but the issue is really not about the numbers. CSO-executed projects tend to reduce local stress more than non-CSO executed projects. She noted the Public Involvement Policy (PIP) exercise and to the meeting of the Indigenous Peoples Advisory Group as mentioned in the Network report to the Council. She agreed that the PIP is outdated. She welcomed Conservation International and WWF-US as two new GEF Project Agencies. In her ending remark, she mentioned on the countdown to the 5th GEF Assembly and invited the CSOs to participate in the assembly  

On the questions and open discussions session:

Responding to questions, Ishii acknowledged that, inter alia: a driver-focused approach could be implemented with limited financial resources; and on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the GEF is following the discussion and subscribes to the concept even though the SDGs are not mentioned explicitly in the GEF 2020 strategy. With relate to the poor indication of CSO role in the GEF 2020, CEO Ishii reiterated that the strategy is still being worked on and these issues will be taken into account in its revision. Relating to the appreciative comments from the CSOs on the ECWs, CEO gave assurance of the continuous support for this mechanism.

CSOs asked what the GEF is doing to address the issues that some implementing agencies are having with meeting standards on Indigenous Peoples and noted that protected areas efforts need to take into account the full informed consent of Indigenous Peoples, among other questions. One CSO urged retaining transportation as a specific funding area. CEO Ishii replied that a driver-focused approach ensures that effective entry points are taken to address urban programming, including transportation.


Session 2: Enhancing CSO engagement in GEF : Policies and Guidelines in Practice

Moderators: Mohamed Raouf, RFP West Asia, GEF- NGO Network and Mrinalini Rai, GEF Indigenous Peoples Advisory Group

Andrew Velthaus, GEF, presented the outputs of GEF review of GEF Agencies compliance with the Environmental and Social Safeguards and Gender Mainstreaming policies. On ESS, he noted that only 1 Agency met all standards. 2 Agencies met almost all (1-3 issues), 3 Agencies met most, but not all, and the remaining 3 agencies needed broad improvements across the board. On the other hand, only 2 agencies needed minor improvements in certain areas while the rest met all the requirements in Gender Mainstreaming. Kakhaber Bakhazer, GEF-NGO Network presented the recommendations from the initial review of the GEF Policy on Public Involvement (PIP) included calling for the GEF to set clear minimum standards for public involvement that will be mandatory for all projects, and for clear stakeholder engagement plans and formal mechanisms for documenting and exchanging good practice. Robert van den Berg, GEF Evaluation Office, reflected on the future of CSO engagement in the GEF and outputs from the fifth Overall Performance Study (GEF/OPS 5). He highlighted that, on full size projects, a sufficient number of CSOs are involved in execution and implementation, but for medium sized projects engagement is declining. He also highlighted difficulties in keeping track of CSO engagement due to a lack of clear definition of CSOs. Lucy Mulenkei, GEF Indigenous Peoples (IPs) Advisory Group, presented on progress in implementing guidelines on IPs, noting that approximately 160 medium and full size projects involve IPs, while 15% Small Grants Programme (SGP) involve IPs.

To view the powerpoint presentations, click on the following panel speakers 

Responding to a question on whether CSO engagement is adding value, van den Berg observed that projects involving CSOs in real engagement are considerably more successful, especially in achieving long-term impacts. He said that PIP had relevance and value and hoped that the review process would enhance this. On the suggestion that that CSO engagement should include youth, ethnic and sexual minorities, he agreed that the GEF could look into it.


Session 2: Interactive Dialogue on the Future Strategic Role of GEF

Moderators: Faizal Parish, Central Focal Point & Essam Nada, RFP Northern Africa, GEF- NGO Network

In his opening remark, Andrew Steer, President, World Resources Institute, noted that there have been many great GEF projects, but the problem is that they have not been transformative. He suggested asking tougher questions regarding impact and whether the GEF is getting the leverage that it should, and spending “so that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” He also suggested that GEF to aim at the root of the problem which in some way the Signature Programs of the GEF2020 are precisely aiming at. Claus Pram Astrup, GEF Secretariat, provided an overview of the GEF2020 Strategy, feedback to date and the next steps. He said five things the strategy is trying to do: 1) transforming policy and regulatory environments (e.g. the CRESP in China) 2) demonstrating innovative approaches, 3) strengthening  institutional capacity & decision making processes, 4) convening multi stakeholder alliances, 5) de-risking & incrementally financing investments. Among the factors on the GEF2020 Strategy have included: are we moving too fast towards dealing with root causes?; are we moving away from our key obligations under the conventions?; how does GEF2020 fit with GEF 6?; can we really make a difference on drivers?; and what about specific GEF focus areas, like gender, adaptation, and others?

A panel of GEF Council members followed by a panel of GEF Agency representatives then offered their impressions of the GEF2020 strategy. Among the questions that were posed to the panelists are what they envision for GEF in the years to come, how GEF is relevant in the landscape now with CIF and GCF, etc, whether and the Signature Programs are spreading GEF money too thin. Panelists noted a continuing role for the GEF in climate finance, despite the creation of other climate funds. One speaker suggested that the GEF could focus on biodiversity and ecosystems in the next four years, given that climate change is on the radar screen of policy makers and the private sector. Another speaker suggested investing in knowledge creation, documenting knowledge and using it in projects. Another panelist said it was worth asking if GEF is transformative enough and the need for a precise analysis of CSO engagement. Other issues raised included: the need for GEF funds to match ambitions and for modalities to enable GEF to “find its feet” and “revitalize itself”; GEF’s comparative advantage in having well established capacities to do multi-focal work; and the need to address hidden drivers including market and institutional failures. Fiu, GEF-NGO Network, emphasized specific CSO concerns on the Strategy, highlighting the need for a realistic balance of drivers and a focus on global demand, among other elements.


Closing – by Faizal Parish, Central Focal Point of GEF-NGO Network

In his closing remarks, Faizal Parish, Central Focal Point of the GEF NGO Network, said that based on the constructive inputs from the meeting it is a good time to refocus GEF and work with driver. GEF should be ambitious but smart. He reiterated that GEF can make a difference and urged recipient countries to come forward to fund GEF.


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