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'Governing Access'

The GEF’s unprecedented openness to ‘civil society’ means these interests include civil society organisations of many hues: from the big Washington-based policy groups such as the World Resources Institute (WRI), the scientific World Conservation Union (IUCN) and others interested in tapping new environmental finance, to the more critical and Southern organisations including the Climate Action Network, Third World Network (TWN) and Delhi’s Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) who watchdog GEF policies and projects, drawing attention to common and serious problems. Also represented are UN agencies with a sustainable development remit, the organised transnational private sector, and myriad consultants: technical experts, environmental economists, international lawyers, and others with the skills to advise on protecting the global environment.

GEF programmes are supposed to be science-based, guided by a Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel (STAP) managed by UNEP. Many environmental scientists therefore have an interest in GEF, some for kudos or rent seeking, others just to see their insights applied where it counts. But with UNEP’s interests sidelined in the GEF by the World Bank’s (and increasingly UNDP’s) dominant ‘development’ agenda, scientists’ high hopes for GEF have in general not been met. Beyond some consultancies and financial assistance for research in Southern countries to complete global data sets, scientists’ inputs have seemed to legitimate as much as effectively guide project funding decisions made on political and economic grounds by Northern donor governments who logically enough, while paying for most of the GEF, sought to control its strategic directions.

15 France offered $142 million, Germany $147 million, Italy $66 million, the UK $60 million and the Netherlands $53 million…