Not all countries that stand to benefit from GEF projects and programs have the capacity to participate fully and to engage on and contribute to the protection of the global environment.
The goal of the Country Support Programme is to strengthen the capacity of GEF Focal Points, Convention Focal Points, civil society, and GEF Agency staff to support global environmental programs in their countries and constituencies through a better understanding of the GEF. As the major outreach vehicle for the GEF, the Country Support Program is used by various GEF stakeholder groups in the partnership to advance the protection of the global environment.
What We do
The Country Support Program comprises a variety of opportunities for meetings and workshops to promote dialogue among different GEF stakeholder groups, including the following: GEF National Dialogues; GEF National Portfolio Formulation Exercise; GEF Introduction Seminars; GEF Council Constituency Meetings; the GEF Workshops, especially Expanded Constituency Workshops; Pre-Council Meetings of recipient Constituency Council members and Alternates, and GEF Knowledge Days.
National Dialogue Initiative
GEF Operational Focal Points can request national dialogues that bring together government ministries and agencies, non-governmental/civil society organizations, communities, academic and research institutions and the private sector, as well as partners and donors. National Dialogues are expected to provide a means for a broad range of stakeholders within a country to come together learn, discuss and agree, or take steps toward agreement, on environmental issues across the board. This includes information and validation of national objectives, policies, strategies and the means to achieve them; how to mainstream environment in national decision-making; national positions in Multilateral Environmental Agreements and coordination; incorporating the capital value of environment to national accounting and other issues of interest. GEF issues are normally a component of National Dialogues insofar as the GEF Partnership is one of the sources of financing and support available to the country.
Expanded Constituency Workshops
Expanded Constituency Workshops keep the GEF National Focal Points, Convention Focal Points and other key stakeholders, including civil society, up to date on GEF strategies, policies and procedures and to encourage coordination. The events enable focal points to meet with their counterparts from other countries in the region. They also allow other GEF partners, especially GEF Agencies, to discuss and review policies and procedures and to share experiences from GEF projects and their integration within national policy frameworks.
These meetings are organized by and at the request of the Council Member with technical and logistics support by the GEF Secretariat. They are open only to GEF Focal Points of the constituency’s member countries. Council members may invite other participants as necessary, including GEF Agencies and other resource persons.
These are held once a year in Washington, D.C. to train new GEF Agency staff, as well as very new country focal points, on GEF history, structure, operations, strategies, policies and procedures. This includes the work of the Trustee, the Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel and the Independent Evaluation Office, as well as specifics on other Trust Funds managed by the GEF that focus on Adaptation.
National Portfolio Formulation Exercise
All recipient countries can access GEF resources for a National Portfolio Formulation Exercise. These exercises are tools to help interested recipient countries decide on how best to use the resources available through the GEF. The output of such meetings is expected to be a National Portfolio Formulation Document that will describe the process of consultation held and the preliminary list of projects or project ideas that will be pursued.
The decision to hold an NPFE is voluntary and at the sole discretion of a country government. An NPFE is not a prerequisite for obtaining GEF grants. These exercises are normally held during the first 18 months of a GEF replenishment cycle. Interested countries submit a proposal using the templates. These include a detailed description of planned activities to produce the National Portfolio Formulation Document, as well as expected cost. The GEF Secretariat provides technical and logistics support.
The GEF Operational Focal Point is responsible for submitting the application template duly filled. This will be considered as an endorsement for the activity. In this exercise, countries are encouraged to follow principles of transparency and inclusiveness of national stakeholders, including civil society. Once the NPFE is complete, the country will submit a report to the GEF Secretariat summarizing:
- the steps followed to prepare the national portfolio
- the list (and their description) of priority projects and/or programmatic approaches that are eligible under the GEF focal area strategies and their estimated costs
- an outline of how these projects will help fulfill obligations to the conventions (CDB, UNCCD, UNFCCC, Stockholm).
The report will be shared with the Convention Secretariats for their information. Please submit the proposal to the GEF Secretariat at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Under GEF-6, a total of 39 Expanded Constituency Workshops were conducted in 2015-2017.
These workshops have become a hub that allows for other relevant meetings to take place back to back such as civil society consultations, Constituency consultations, meetings with Convention Secretariats, discussions on specific projects and reviewing of national programming of GEF resources. The workshops are fully organized and financed by the GEF Secretariat. Hosting countries provide advice and guidance on best locations, projects to visit and dissemination through local media.
In March 2016, a pilot GEF Knowledge Day was designed and successfully implemented in Trinidad and Tobago in the context of the Caribbean Expanded Constituency Workshop, with 85 participants from 17 countries. Based on the success of the Pilot and results of participant exit surveys, the Secretariat decided to replicate the GEF Knowledge Day, in a customized format, as a critical component of all ECWs around the world, with support from the GEF Country Support Program.
By the end of 2016, the GEF Knowledge Day had been replicated in 12 Expanded Constituency Workshops, reaching more than 1,000 participants from more than 120 countries. These included GEF Operational and Political Focal Points, UN Convention Focal Points, civil society, and GEF Agencies. Based on the high ratings and overwhelmingly positive feedback received in participant exits surveys throughout 2016, the Secretariat continued implementing GEF Knowledge Days in 2017 as well; with 14 Knowledge days completed in 2017 with 1,000 participants attending from 120 countries.
The strategic objectives of the Country Support Program will remain fully relevant under GEF-7. Countries have reported that the need addressed by the program remains high and the intensity of program engagement is not expected to decrease. The type of activities currently financed by the on-going program will continue to shape future offerings, with greater emphasis on the unique features of the GEF-7 package offerings, with the goal of helping countries to engage and participate in new opportunities.