Message-Id: <>
Date: Thu, 24 Apr 97 20:51:31 CDT
From: rich@pencil (Rich Winkel)
Subject: GEF -- Five Years After Rio

/** dev.worldbank: 372.0 **/
** Topic: GEF -- Five Years After Rio **
** Written 1:09 PM Apr 22, 1997 by in cdp:dev.worldbank **

[electronic version]
Swiss Coalition EDF
of Development Environmental Defense Fund Agencies

With CIEL, Center for International Environmental Law and WWF-International

The GEF - Five Years after Rio: Time to take stock

GEF Council Meeting April 30 - May 1, 1997

The GEF was launched in 1991 as a pilot program with about US $ 1.3 billion. After completion of its 1994 restructuring, the GEF obtained additional funding commitments of US $ 2 billion. In its publication "A Self-Assessment", the GEF describes itself as "the only major financial accomplishment of the Earth Summit." At present, the GEF has begun replenishment talks with participating governments with the goal of achieving new funding commitments of at least an additional US $ 2 billion for the next three year funding cycle.

In addition to being the manager of the world's largest amount of resources dedicated to addressing global environmental problems, the GEF to date has leveraged another US $ 3.8 billion 1/ in associated co-financing of its projects, mostly due to associated large World Bank loans for the energy sector in developing countries.

One of the central goals of the GEF was to generate and disseminate lessons on how to address global environmental problems. As of June 1996 there were more than 200 projects in the Implementing Agencies' project portfolios aimed to be innovative and experimental efforts that could be duplicated elsewhere. Six years into the GEF experience, systematic monitoring and evaluation of GEF projects and dissemination of the results is progressing at a snail's pace and has yet to contribute to the international learning process on how to address global environmental problems.

Perhaps even more importantly, to date there is little evidence that the GEF Implementing Agencies have made their overall activities consistent with GEF goals. A main justification for the GEF's tri-partite institutional structure involving the World Bank, UNDP and UNEP, was that the global environmental goals of the GEF would be "mainstreamed" into the regular project portfolios of the Implementing Agencies. The is especially important in the case of the World Bank, whose annual lending of about $ 23 billion, much of it for projects and sectors that directly influence climate and biodiversity, dwarfs GEF funding impact.

In the forefront of replenishment, governments have little information on the effectiveness of the GEF in addressing global environmental problems for which it was established. Since the Independent Evaluation Report of the GEF Pilot Phase in 1993, which was very critical, there have been no evaluations of the subsequently restructured GEF, its new governance system and the quality of its projects. Moreover, there has never been an independent evaluation of the GEF pilot phase projects and the lessons they generated.

At its May 1996 meeting, the GEF Council not only emphasized the need for an efficient monitoring and evaluation system, but also requested that the GEF system include independent evaluation in addition to the operational M&E to be carried out by the Implementing Agencies and the scientific and technical monitoring to be carried out by the STAP. 2/

In 1997, the GEF is conducting three studies related to monitoring and evaluation:

With regard to the needs ascertained by the GEF Council, these studies appear inadequate. Unlike the open and participatory process that led to the 1993 Evaluation of the GEF Pilot Phase, current efforts have not involved NGO participation. At the March 12, 1997 initial meeting on GEF replenishment, participants noted "the importance of ensuring the credibility of these documents by securing the involvement of key stakeholders in their preparation." 3/ Unfortunately, the way in which the current M&E efforts are being organized has precluded meaningful stakeholder participation in discussions of the terms-of-reference or other aspects of the studies. Based on available documentation, these studies are limited in scope and will rely heavily on self-evaluation and guidance from the Implementing Agencies.

Project Implementation Review (PIR)

The Project Implementation Review, which was released in April 1997, is a summary of the self-rating activities of the Implementing Agencies and of very general lessons learned from their perspective. The publicly available PIR does not include assessments of individual projects or an analysis of where projects stand. Nor does it include proposals on how the Implementing Agencies will apply what is being learned in ongoing and future projects. The assessment of each project should be included in an annex to the PIR.

The self-monitoring and evaluation activities on the part of the Implementing Agencies are welcome and necessary, however, they do not replace the need for periodic review by independent evaluators. The PIR itself recognizes that what is needed are "improved monitoring and evaluation systems in projects which include indicators, baselines and further use of the logical framework system." 4/ Despite the sort-comings of the present system, the PIR concludes that only 6 percent of World Bank- GEF projects are "at risk", i.e. projects with potentially unsatisfactory outcomes. The World Bank's rate of unsatisfactory projects in its overall lending portfolio is ca. 30%. Are GEF projects so much more successful or are the task managers responsible for GEF projects viewing their world through rose-colored glasses? If these results are real, the entire World Bank portfolio could benefit greatly in improving its rate of success if it were to learn the GEF lessons. An independent evaluation is needed to lend credibility to and validate such findings.

Evaluation of Lessons Learned

This study, which is to be completed by September 1997, will largely be based on the above mentioned PIR. The preliminary terms-of-reference indicate that the consulting company hired to undertake the study will largely rely on additional information from the Implementing Agencies and on workshops to be conducted with them. Again, there were no provisions for NGO and stakeholder input into the process.

Overall GEF Performance

According to the summary of the initial replenishment meeting 5/ which took place in Paris, this study is also to be completed by September 1997. However, more recently, and following the expression of concern over the lack of depth of the proposed evaluation activities by some Governments and NGOs, this study is now set to involve a longer time frame and to be accompanied by a Senior Advisory Panel of 6 to 7 members. As currently planned, the GEF M&E Coordinator will nominate the Panel members and they will report to him.

From the available documentation it appears, however, that the study will largely incorporate the findings of the PIR and the Project Lessons and embed them in a quantitative analysis of the usefulness of the GEF leveraging funds and accommodating the U.N. Conventions. It is essential that there be broad consultation with NGOs and stakeholders on the terms-of reference of the study, procedures for obtaining stakeholder input and consultation on the composition of the Advisory Panel. This Panel should report directly to the GEF Council.

The main emphasis of current evaluations efforts ought not be to promote the GEF in the forefront of replenishment but rather to provide and in-depth, objective understanding of the effectiveness of the GEF. The 1993 Independent Evaluation Report should serve as the model and as the point of departure for the proposed evaluation.

Key messages of the 1993 Evaluation which must be revisited before replenishment of the GEF are:


  1. GEF, Project Implementation Review, 1996, II, C, page 6.
  2. GEF, Annual Report 1996, 1.27, page 8.
  3. Summary of the Co-Chairs of the Planning Meeting for the Second GEF Replenishment, March 12, 1997, 6, page .
  4. GEF, Project Implementation Review, 1996, N. 62. Page 24.
  5. Summary of the Co-Chairs of the Planning Meeting for the Second GEF Replenishment, March 12, 1997, Attachment, page 5.