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GEF Council Meeting

24–26 May 2011, Washington D.C.


Statement by

Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change



I would like to thank the GEF for providing the Climate Change Secretariat the opportunity to present this statement to the Council. I would also like to congratulate the GEF on its 20 years of delivering resources to protect and enhance the world’s environment.


Over the last 20 years, global awareness of the threats of climate change and the need to act has tremendously increased. This has partly been brought about by the support that many developing countries received from the GEF to implement various mitigation and adaptation projects, to prepare national reports and assessments and to respond to technology transfer and capacity-building needs.


Although progress has been made in the global response to climate change, the scientific community has clearly found that more needs to be done to reduce emissions in order to stave off the most catastrophic impacts. Thus, since COP13 in Bali, Parties to the Convention started designing enhanced actions on mitigation and adaptation supported by scaled up resources. In Cancun, Parties to the Convention agreed on the following:


  • To limit the temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius and will consider a 1.5 degree Celsius limit going forward;


  • For industrialized countries to develop low-carbon development plans or strategies and to formalize their emission targets;


  • For developing countries to implement nationally appropriate mitigation actions in the context of sustainable development aimed at achieving deviation from business-as-usual emissions in 2020. A registry is being designed to record and match these actions with financial and technological support;


  • To establish the Cancun Adaptation Framework with the aim of enhancing action on adaptation, including through international cooperation and coherent consideration of matters relating to adaptation under the Convention. Parties also established an Adaptation Committee to promote the implementation of adaptation in a coherent manner.


  • To establish a Technology Mechanism that will facilitate international cooperation on technology for mitigation and adaptation. A Technology Executive Committee was also established to guide the implementation of technology development and transfer under the Convention.


  • To establish a Green Climate Fund, to be designated as an operating entity of the financial mechanism of the Convention to support projects, programmes, policies and other activities in developing country Parties using thematic funding windows. A Transitional Committee has been established to design the Fund. Parties also established a Standing Committee aimed at improving the coherence and coordination in the delivery of climate change financing;


  • To establish a robust system for measurement, reporting and verification of mitigation actions and support provided, including their consideration through international consultation and analysis.


In Cancun, Parties also concluded the review of the Financial Mechanism and assessments of the Special Climate Change Fund and the Least Developed Countries Fund. In concluding the reviews of the funds under the Convention, Parties requested the GEF to provide information to be included in its report to the 2011 UN Climate Change Conference in Durban. Information should include an update on the status of implementation of both the policy reforms, as well as of guidance to the GEF on matters relating to the LDC Fund and Special Climate Change Fund.


Financial issues will continue to be a central issue in Durban as the conference will consider the report of the Transitional Committee on the design of the Green Climate Fund. Similarly, the roles and functions of the Standing Committee will be elaborated. Additionally, the review of the Adaptation Fund is set to continue.


The role of the GEF is central to these discussions, as it brings a wealth of knowledge and lessons learned in its 20 years of supporting developing countries to implement their commitments under the Convention.


Aside from financial issues, Parties are expected to agree on the design of the various operational and institutional elements of the Cancun Agreements. In this regard, aligning the GEF climate change focal area, the LDC Fund and Special Climate Change Fund to the priorities that are emerging in the negotiations will be crucial for implementing the Cancun Agreements.


These emerging priorities include the following issues: technology development and transfer; the preparation and implementation of nationally appropriate mitigation actions by developing countries; the preparation of enhanced national communications by developing countries; and the implementation of projects identified in the national adaptation programmes of action and other elements of the LDC work programme.


I would like to conclude by thanking the GEF for its contribution to the work of the Transitional Committee of the Green Climate Fund by seconding a senior staff to the Technical Support Unit. Let me, once again, reassure the full commitment of the Climate Change Secretariat in building stronger collaboration with the GEF, as shown in the recently concluded joint retreat, in our pursuit of effectively supporting Parties achieve the objective of the climate Convention.


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