Global Environmental Faculty (GEF)

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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 two more international conventions: The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (2001) and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (2003).

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) unites 180 member governments — in partnership with international institutions, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector — to address global environmental issues. An independent financial organization, the GEF provides grants to developing countries and countries with economies in transition for projects related to biodiversity, climate change, international waters, land degradation, the ozone layer, and persistent organic pollutants. These projects benefit the global environment, linking local, national, and global environmental challenges and promoting sustainable livelihoods.

Today GEF is the largest funder of projects to improve the global environment. The GEF has allocated $8.8 billion, supplemented by more than $38.7 billion in co-financing, for more than 2,400 projects in more than 165 developing countries and countries with economies in transition. Through its Small Grants Programme (SGP), the GEF has also made more than 10,000 small grants directly to nongovernmental and community organizations.

The GEF partnership includes 10 agencies: the UN Development Programme; the UN Environment Programme; the World Bank; the UN Food and Agriculture Organization; the UN Industrial Development Organization; the African Development Bank; the Asian Development Bank; the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development; the Inter-American Development Bank; and the International Fund for Agricultural Development. The Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel provides technical and scientific advice on the GEF’s policies and projects.

The GEF, although not linked formally to the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer (MP), supports implementation of the Protocol in countries with economies in transition.

More information available at: www.gefweb.org