Main Issue

Biodiversity is the variability among Earth’s terrestrial, freshwater, and marine organisms, as well as the ecosystems of which they are part. Biodiversity is crucial to the future of all life on the planet, and is also the foundation for the ecosystem goods and services that enable human societies to thrive. Biodiversity provides us with food, water, and materials, as well as services such as climate regulation, pollination, disaster protection, and nutrient cycling.  

Biodiversity thus is an indispensable asset that makes critical contributions to sustainable development. Managing this asset requires full engagement of governments at all levels, civil society organizations, the private sector, indigenous peoples and local communities, and others.   

The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which came into force in 1993, is the global policy framework for action to maintain biodiversity for future generations. There has been some progress in conserving and sustainably using biodiversity and ecosystems at local and national levels over the past several decades, but not at the scale necessary to stem the ongoing tide of biodiversity loss. Changing the trajectory of biodiversity loss means addressing its five main direct drivers: habitat change; overexploitation or unsustainable use; invasive alien species; climate change; and pollution. These critical drivers of biodiversity loss are intensifying, particularly habitat loss driven by the expansion of agriculture. 

What We Do

The GEF provides financial resources for developing countries and countries with economies in transition to implement the CBD. The goal of the GEF’s biodiversity strategy is to maintain globally significant biodiversity in landscapes and seascapes. 

To achieve this goal, GEF investments ensure that land and resource use maximizes production without undermining or degrading biodiversity; slows the illegal wildlife trade; and develops incentives for improved practices in farming and other sectors of the economy. The GEF supports the establishment and management of protected area systems and associated buffer zones and biological corridors, and strengthens biodiversity policy and institutional frameworks by helping to implement CBD protocols that target access and benefit sharing of genetic resources (Nagoya) and biosafety (Cartagena). 

For example, the Global Wildlife Program, launched in 2015, is a US$131 million program aimed at reducing the threats to wildlife by tackling the problems along the supply chain of illegally traded wildlife and wildlife products. 


The GEF has invested more than US$3.5 billion to conserve biodiversity, and use it sustainably. This investment has leveraged over US$10 billion in additional funds, supporting 1,300 projects in more than 155 countries.  

GEF funds have improved the management of more than 860 million ha of protected areas and parks around the world, an area larger than the size of Brazil. We have also helped countries sustainably use and manage biodiversity within more than 350 million ha of productive landscapes and seascapes. 

The GEF has supported the development of National Biosafety Frameworks in 126 countries, and their subsequent implementation under the Cartagena Protocol. GEF support has also been critical in bringing into force the Nagoya Protocol, and a growing part of the portfolio is building country capacity to implement the Protocol.

Looking Ahead

Over the next four years (GEF-7), the GEF’s goal will be to maintain globally significant biodiversity in landscapes and seascapes. To achieve this goal, GEF investments will contribute to the following objectives: 

  • Mainstream biodiversity across sectors as well as landscapes and seascapes;  
  • Address direct drivers to protect habitats and species; and  
  • Further develop biodiversity policy and institutional frameworks.

Mainstreaming biodiversity will require improved policies and decision-making that are informed by biodiversity and ecosystem values. It will also require managing biodiversity in landscapes and seascapes, and harnessing biodiversity for sustainable agriculture.   

Addressing direct drivers to protect habitats and species is also a multi-faceted effort. In GEF-7 the GEF will be investing in programs to prevent and control invasive alien species; reduce pressures on coral reefs and other vulnerable coastal and marine ecosystems; enhance the effectiveness of protected area systems; and combat illegal and unsustainable use of species, with priority action on threatened species 

Biodiversity policy and institutional frameworks that GEF will focus on in GEF-7 include continuing efforts to ensure the complete and effective implementation of the Cartagena and Nagoya Protocols. The GEF will also be working to improve biodiversity policy, planning, and review in every country where we work.