Govt. seeks alliances to manage Gef funding


 Mr Agricole  addressing delegates at the workshop

This emerged at an information-sharing workshop between public and private environmental stakeholders this week at the Seychelles Trading Company’s conference room.
Environment and energy principal secretary Wills Agricole said he thought the workshop had come at the right time.

“Very big projects pose a challenge because of the limited capacity in the country,” Mr Agricole said. “Therefore it is very important for us to get everybody involved and I implore especially civil society, the private sector and the young graduates to get on board, because the future cost of inaction, particularly in relation to our climate change adaptation project, is expected to exceed by far the cost of timely action.”

Established in 1991, the Gef comprises 182 member states in partnership with international institutions, NGOs, and the private sector to address global environmental issues. Currently, the Gef is the largest public funder worldwide of projects aiming to generate global environmental benefits, while supporting national sustainable development initiatives.

Didier Dogley, special advisor to the Minister for Environment and Energy, acknowledged that the perception of Gef has been mixed up until the past few years due to the perception that getting funding from the Gef was too cumbersome and bureaucratic.

“Previously, it would have taken up to three years to get approval for a project, but now after a major restructuring, this process has been cut down to about six months,” Mr Dogley said.
“The Gef has also received a lot of criticism and complaints from member states and I know in Seychelles for example there are a lot of people who are not very happy with what Gef does.”

“This is because the way Gef approaches project financing is that it finances only incremental amounts, not the baseline funding, and that of course, brings in a lot of discontent. There is also the issue of co-financing, whereby for every dollar that the Gef gives you, you need to put in two to four dollars of co-financing.”

The Gef has allocated US $10.5 billion, supplemented by more than US $ 51 billion in co-financing for over 2,700 projects. Gef resources go directly to developing countries for projects related to biodiversity, climate change, international waters, land degradation, persistent organic pollutants, and the ozone layer.

Mr Dogley explained that each time project funding is allocated from Gef to Seychelles, a national dialogue initiative is held where delegates discuss the best ways to use the funds to address local priority needs.

“We need everyone to be on board because government does not have the capacity to do this alone,” added Mr Dogley.
Since joining the Gef, Seychelles has received Gef grants totalling US $16.5 million that leveraged US $25.8 million in co-financing resources for 17 national projects. These include 10 projects in biodiversity, three in each of climate change and multi-focal areas, and one in persistent organic pollutants.

Additionally, the Gef small grants programme (GEF SGP), which started in Seychelles in 2008, received financial support amounting to US $475,000 and leveraging over US $277,000 in co-financing resources for 11 projects executed by civil society and community-based organisations.

During the current Gef-5 replenishment period (July 2010 – June 2014), Seychelles has received an indicative allocation to formulate and execute projects for US $4,900,000 in biodiversity, US $2,000,000 in climate change, and US $710,000 in land degradation.