GEF Biodiversity Strategy

The goal of the GEF biodiversity focal area is the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and the maintenance of ecosystem goods and services. To achieve this goal, the strategy encompasses the following objectives:


1. Improve the Sustainability of Protected Area Systems

The GEF defines a sustainable protected area system as one that has sufficient and predictable financial resources available, including external funding, to support protected area management costs; effectively protects ecologically viable representative samples of the country’s ecosystems and provides adequate coverage of threatened species at a sufficient scale to ensure their long term persistence; and retains adequate individual and institutional capacity to manage protected areas such that they achieve their conservation objectives.

In order to strengthen effective management of individual protected areas and protected area systems, GEF will continue to promote the participation and capacity development of indigenous and local communities in the design, implementation, and management of protected area projects through established frameworks such as Indigenous and Community Conserved Areas. GEF will also promote protected area co-management between government and indigenous and local communities where such management models are appropriate.

In addition, GEF will support the development and integration of adaptation and resilience management measures as part of protected area management projects; to improve climate-resilient protected area systems.

Four main types of activities have been prioritized for GEF project support under this objective:

  1. Improve Sustainable Financing of Protected Area Systems: GEF will support the development and implementation of comprehensive, system-level financing solutions and help build the capacity required to achieve financial sustainability.
  2. Expand Marine and Terrestrial Ecosystem Representation: GEF will support efforts to address the marine ecosystem coverage gap within national level systems through the creation and effective management of coastal and near shore protected area networks, including no-take zones, to conserve and sustainably use marine biodiversity. GEF will also support the creation and effective management of new protected areas to expand terrestrial and inland water ecosystem representation within protected area systems. Conserving habitat for landraces and wild crop relatives of species of economic importance may also be included as part of this effort to reduce representation gaps.
  3. Expand Threatened Species Representation: GEF will support the creation and effective management of new protected areas that extends the coverage of threatened species in protected area systems and improves the coverage of their spatial range.
  4. Improve Management Effectiveness of Existing Protected Areas: GEF will support projects that aim to improve the management effectiveness of existing protected areas. This could include support to transboundary protected areas.


2. Mainstream Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Use into Production Landscapes/Seascapes and Sectors

In order to complement its investments to strengthen the sustainability of protected area systems, GEF will promote measures to help reduce the negative impacts that productive sectors exert on biodiversity, particularly outside of protected areas and those affecting landscape species, and highlight the contribution of all components of biodiversity to ecosystem functioning, economic development and human well-being, – a set of actions often referred to as “mainstreaming”.

Biodiversity-dependent production sectors and those with large ecological footprints that impact biodiversity-rich habitat will be targeted: agriculture, fisheries, forestry, tourism, and the major extractive industries of oil and gas, and mining.

GEF’s strategy to support biodiversity mainstreaming focuses on the role and potential contributions of both the public and private sector.

Three main types of activities have been prioritized for GEF project support:

  1. Strengthen Policy and Regulatory Frameworks: GEF will support the development and implementation of policy and regulatory frameworks that provide incentives for private actors to align their practices and behavior with the principles of sustainable use and management. To this end, GEF interventions will remove critical knowledge barriers and develop requisite institutional capacities. This will include support for sub-national and local-level applications –where implementation can be more effective –of spatial land-use planning that incorporates biodiversity and ecosystem service valuation.
  2. Implement Invasive Alien Species Management Frameworks: GEF will support interventions that address the issue of invasive alien species systemically through developing the sectoral policy, regulations, and institutional arrangements for the prevention and management of invasions emphasizing a risk management approach by focusing on the highest risk invasion pathways. Priority will be given to establishing policy measures that reduce the impact of invasive species on the environment, including through prevention of new incursions, early detection and institutional frameworks to respond rapidly to new incursions.
  3. Produce Biodiversity-friendly Goods and Services: To increase production of biodiversity-friendly goods, GEF will focus its support on: a) improving product certification standards to capture global biodiversity benefits; b) establishing training systems for farmers and resource managers on how to improve management practices to meet certification standards; and c) facilitating access to financing for producers, cooperatives, and companies working towards producing certified goods and services.


3. Build Capacity to Implement the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety

The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (CPB) seeks to protect biological diversity from the potential risks posed by living modified organisms resulting from modern biotechnology. GEF’s strategy to build capacity to implement the CPB prioritizes the implementation of activities that are identified in country stock-taking analyses.

Three main types of activities have been prioritized for GEF project support:

  1. Single-country projects: These projects will be implemented when the characteristics of the eligible country, as assessed in the stock-taking analysis – and the design of existing or planned future regional or sub-regional efforts in the area – recommend a national approach for the implementation of the CPB in that country.
  2. Regional or sub-regional projects: Providing support to eligible countries through regional or sub-regional projects will be pursued when there are opportunities for cost-effective sharing of limited resources and for coordination between biosafety frameworks. Regional and sub-regional approaches will be pursued where stock-taking assessments support the potential for: coordinating biosafety frameworks, interchange of regional expertise, and capacity development of common priority areas.
  3. Thematic projects: A thematic approach can be an effective way to develop the capacities of groups of countries lacking competences in relevant fields. This multi-country approach will be pursued where stock-taking assessments support the needs of eligible countries and where this approach would foster the pooling of resources, economies of scale and international coordination.


4. Build Capacity on Access to Genetic Resources and Benefit Sharing

Implementation of the CBD’s third objective on access to genetic resources and benefit sharing has been slowed by the lack of capacity of most key stakeholder groups. Most countries face difficulties establishing a common understanding between providers and users of genetic resources and the associated traditional knowledge of indigenous and local communities.

Activities prioritized for GEF project support include capacity development of governments for meeting their obligations under Article 15 of the CBD, as well as developing capacity within key stakeholder groups, including indigenous and local communities, and the scientific community. These activities would include, for example, the establishment of measures that promote concrete access and benefit-sharing agreements that recognize the core access and benefit sharing (ABS) principles of Prior Informed Consent and Mutually Agreed Terms including the fair and equitable sharing of benefits would be eligible for GEF support. GEF will also respond to guidance that is provided by the Intergovernmental Committee of the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing.


5. Integrate CBD Obligations into National Planning Processes through Enabling Activities

Enabling activities continue to play an important role in assisting national government institutions to meet their immediate obligations under the CBD, notably the development and revision of National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plans (NBSAPs), national reporting, and clearing house information functions. Enabling activities help national executing agencies to integrate CBD obligations, strategies and work programs into the national planning process and hence can make critical contributions to the successful mainstreaming of biodiversity into national development planning frameworks and sector planning processes.

GEF project support for enabling activities could be provided for revising NBSAPs in line with the CBD’s new strategic plan adopted at COP-10 and integrating biodiversity into sectoral planning, national reporting, and implementation of guidance related to the Clearing House Mechanism.

For more details on each Biodiversity objective, including the Biodiversity Results Framework, consult the GEF-5 Biodiversity Strategy.