The Philippines, through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), led Asian nations in the second climate fund replenishment talks to particularly seek funding support for developing countries to meet the 2030 international environmental goals.

DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu highlighted the significance of the 8th Global Environment Facility (GEF-8) Fund Replenishment discussions to finance projects for intensified environment protection against the coronavirus 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 GEF was created in October 1991 to enable developing countries to address priority environmental concerns, such as deforestation, desertification, climate change, biodiversity loss, and ozone depletion.

DENR Undersecretary for Finance, Information Systems, and Climate Change Analiza Rebuelta-Teh represented Asian nations, which include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Iraq, Jordan, Laos, Lebanon, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Syria, and Yemen, during the global meeting held virtually on September 29 to October 1.

"The meeting comes at a crucial time as the world is in the COVID-19 crisis recovery stage," Rebuelta-Teh said, who served as the observer for GEF Asia and GEF Operational Focal Point for the Philippines.

She cited that Asian nations are united in the call to bring to the attention of GEF their 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, Rebuelta-Teh said.

STAR is a performance-based framework for the allocation of resources from the GEF Trust Fund to countries over a replenishment period.

Rebuelta-Teh also noted that the vulnerability index especially applies among Least Developed Countries and Small Island Development States.

She pointed out that there is a need for increased support for these nations.

Other recommendations include the intensified support for countries in their blue (ocean) and green (forestry) recoveries with the pandemic recovery factored in the GEF strategy.

Rebuelta-Teh said the Philippines is looking forward to sustained funding for its environmental projects in the next GEF four-year cycle, from July 2022 to June 2026.

GEF-8 is expected to reach US$6.5 billion given an increase in allocation for Non-Grant Instruments (NGI) and Small Grants Program (SGP). The allocation is meant to support the private sector and civil society participation in NGI and SGP.

The biggest chunk will be allocated for biodiversity (34 percent), followed by climate change (15 percent), chemicals and wastes (14 percent), international waters (12 percent), and land degradation (11 percent).

About US$157 million will be allocated for NGI and US$256 million for SGP.

The replenishment negotiation process serves as a venue for 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 agree on the GEF financing framework.

The meetings are attended by representatives from four clusters of non-donor recipient countries, namely Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia, including non-government organizations and the private sector.

The third GEF-8 Replenishment Meeting will be held on February 2022 followed by the fourth and last meeting on April-May 2022. ###