IFAD potential involvement in the Working Group on Environment in the Greater Mekong Region: scope and added value

On May 24-25, we attended the 17th Annual Meeting of the Great Mekong Sub-region (GMS) Working Group on Environment (WGE) in Siem Reap, Cambodia, during which the Core Environment Program 2012-2016 for the Sub-region was discussed. While IFAD has been participating to the Working Group on Agriculture for several years, this was the first time that our organization has been invited to attend the Environment Working Group.
This was notable for at least two reasons. First, the recognition by the WGE of the strategic importance of the agricultural sector in achieving the objectives of the Core Environment Program, and - consequently - of the need to involve partners that do not ‘strictly’ belong to the ‘environmental constituency’ in the Group. Second, the implicit recognition of the increasing role that IFAD is playing in promoting sustainable agriculture and climate-resilient investments.
At the end of the two-day meeting, the following are the key points that define the scope for and the added value of IFAD’s possible involvement in the partnership:
(1)  IFAD ongoing portfolio in the sub-region includes a significant number of operations that already support, directly or indirectly, the strategic objectives of the Core Environment Program (e.g. the Sustainable Natural Resource Management and Productivity Enhancement project in Laos, or the Pro-Poor Partnership for Agroforestry Development in Vietnam), thus providing a potential for co-financing or parallel financing;
(2)  When IFAD existing or planned portfolio in the sub-region does not directly support the objectives of the Core Environment Program, it often provides a baseline upon which additional financing/co-financing can easily generate environmental benefits;
(3)  In a context in which most of the existing resources focus on supporting ‘soft’ activities, IFAD’s added value stands in the fact that its resources could be used to finance ‘hardware’ and on-the-ground activities.