A new GEF website is coming soon. Preview the design here

How the GEF's blended finance is helping environmental innovators

August 19, 2021

Junior Professional Officer


African farmer is using a tablet on the background of working tractor with a cultivator in the field
Photo: arrowsmith2/Shutterstock

The Global Environment Facility has opened its fifth call for proposals eligible for blended finance support, reflecting the continued growth of its targeted support for innovative and entrepreneurial projects that can yield global environmental benefits.

Interested parties are invited to consult the GEF’s Guide for Understanding and Accessing Blended Finance for a step-by-step guide on how to apply for funding through the blended finance window, in partnership with one of the trust fund’s 18 official implementing agencies.

The GEF, a partnership of 184 member governments, works with civil society organizations, local communities, and the private sector to address developing countries’ most urgent environmental priorities through grants, blended finance, and policy advice.

Over the past 30 years, the trust fund has provided more than $21 billion and mobilized another $117 billion in co-financing for projects and programs related to biodiversity loss, climate change, land degradation, forest management, international waters, chemicals and waste, and more.

The GEF portfolio includes grants as well as an increasing share of blended finance structures such as debt, equity, or guarantees at concessional terms that can encourage private sector participation in initiatives with strong potential environmental benefits. This includes efforts to de-risk financial structures, provide patient capital, or length maturities of financing, among other financial enhancements.

To date, GEF blended finance initiatives have invested in highly innovative projects, generated global environmental benefits, and achieved very high co-financing ratios with strong participation of the private sector. Recent examples include:

The Food Securities Fund, which provides loans to local agri-businesses in sub-Saharan Africa, focused on smallholder farmers. The Fund is working to connect international private capital with sustainable agricultural products and practices that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, restore degraded land, prevent deforestation, and conserve biodiversity.

The Green Logistics Program, which aims to facilitate accelerated investments in green logistics in the Black Sea and Mediterranean. This initiative seeks to address policy, regulatory, financial, and other barriers to energy efficiency in the region. The GEF’s investment is expected to mobilize more than $150 million of additional financing, mostly from private sources.

In the multilateral fund’s current four-year funding cycle, known as GEF-7, the blended finance program totals $136 million. In GEF-8, which runs from 2022 to 2026, it will continue to support new financial instruments such as convertible grants, performance-based grants, financial instruments linked to environmental performance, and support for new market mechanisms. Through the blended finance program, the GEF will also continue to actively seek opportunities to engage small and medium-sized enterprises which can contribute to generating global environmental benefits across all its focal areas.