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What is the GEF?
The Global Environment Facility is a partnership for international cooperation where 183 countries work together with international institutions, civil society organizations and the private sector, to address global environmental issues.
Since 1991, the GEF has provided $12.5 billion in grants and leveraged $58 billion in co-financing for 3,690 projects in 165 developing countries. For 23 years, developed and developing countries alike have provided these funds to support activities related to biodiversity, climate change, international waters, land degradation, and chemicals and waste in the context of development projects and programs.
Through its Small Grants Programme (SGP) the GEF has made more than 20,000 grants to civil society and community based organizations for a total of $1 billion.
Among the major results of these investments, the GEF has set up protected areas around the world equal roughly to the area of Brazil; reduced carbon emissions by 2.3 billion tonnes; eliminated the use of ozone depleting substances in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia; transformed the management of 33 major river basins and one-third of the world’s large marine ecosystems; slowed the advance of desertification in Africa by improving agricultural practices—and all this while contributing to better the livelihood and food security of millions of people.
The GEF serves as financial mechanism for the following conventions:
- Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
- United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
- Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)
- UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)
- Minamata Convention on Mercury
- supports the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone layer
The GEF administers the LDCF and SCCF which were established by the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UNFCCC. The GEF also administers the Nagoya Protocol Implementation Fund (NPIF) that was established the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). In addition, the GEF Secretariat hosts the Adaptation Fund Board Secretariat.
The Global Environment Facility was established in October 1991 as a $1 billion pilot program in the World Bank to assist in the protection of the global environment and to promote environmental sustainable development. The GEF would provide new and additional grants and concessional funding to cover the “incremental” or additional costs associated with transforming a project with national benefits into one with global environmental benefits.
The United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Environment Program, and the World Bank were the three initial partners implementing GEF projects.
In 1994, at the Rio Earth Summit, the GEF was restructured and moved out of the World Bank system to become a permanent, separate institution. The decision to make the GEF an independent organization enhanced the involvement of developing countries in the decision-making process and in implementation of the projects.
Since 1994, however, the World Bank has served as the Trustee of the GEF Trust Fund and provided administrative services.
As part of the restructuring, the GEF was entrusted to become the financial mechanism for both the UN Convention on Biological Diversity and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. In partnership with the Montreal Protocol of the Vienna Convention on Ozone Layer Depleting Substances, the GEF started funding projects that enable the Russian Federation and nations in Eastern Europe and Central Asia to phase out their use of ozone-destroying chemicals.
The GEF subsequently was also selected to serve as financial mechanism for three more international conventions: The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (2001), the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (2003) and the Minamata Convention on Mercury (2013).