Ongoing - Thematic: Enabling Activities

Country / Region : 

Evaluation of the GEF Enabling Activities

In May 2012, the GEF Evaluation Office launched an evaluation of the GEF enabling activities (EA) modality aimed at providing a comprehensive assessment of enabling activities and to generate evaluative evidence on their catalytic role for the Fifth Overall Performance Study (OPS5). The evaluation will be carried out in two phases. The first phase took place from May to December 2012 and entailed a meta-evaluation compiling evaluative evidence on EAs from previously conducted evaluations and reviews to identify gaps and issues to be further explored in the second phase. The second phase of the evaluation is ongoing and main findings and recommendations of the evaluation will be incorporated into OPS5.

The objective of the evaluation is to provide a comprehensive assessment of enabling activities and to generate evaluative evidence on their catalytic role for OPS5.


GEF activities are financed through four modalities: full-size projects, medium-size projects, Small Grants Program, and enabling activities (EAs). Enabling activities are foundational activities that prepare and guide effective response measures (e.g. investment priorities) as well as produce plans, strategies and encourage integration of convention objectives into national development efforts and sectors such as national communications, plans of action, or implementation plans; e.g. NAPAs, NBSAPS etc. Funding under the enabling activities modality can be accessed through four of the GEF focal areas (biodiversity, climate change, persistent organic pollutants (POPs), and land degradation) and their content is almost entirely governed by the decisions of the GEF conventions, which includes the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). As of December 2012 more than 900 projects have been financed under the enabling activities modality amounting to nearly $370 million from the GEF since 1995 (with about $78 million in cofinancing). Almost two thirds of the total amount for EAs was financed during GEF-2 and GEF-3.



The first phase of the Evaluation, finalized in December 2012, revealed several key findings leading to a set of next steps to be explored in depth during the second phase of the evaluation.


Next Steps:

  • Review the alignment of the modality with the conventions’ guidance, the three sets of operational criteria as well as the GEF Focal Area Strategies.
  • Review the capacity development approach of enabling activities, assess how well it responds to recipient countries’ needs, and consider new instruments in use for capacity development. 
  • Conduct case studies of enabling activities integration into national sustainable development frameworks, including the implementation of follow-up activities.
  • Review and assess the efficiency of the EA modality in particular in the context of the “one-size-fits-all” approach.
  • Review how the catalytic role of the GEF and its three steps mode of operation – foundational, demonstration, and investment activities – are embedded into the modality.