Climate Change


"Climate change is a change of climate directly or indirectly attributed to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods" (UNFCCC)


Climate change is the defining challenge of our time. It is no longer a future threat; it is already a reality. Atmospheric GHG concentrations continue to increase at a rapid pace, and will exceed 400 ppm in the very near term. In the absence of urgent, decisive action nations will face unprecedented challenges in including from longer and more intense heat waves and severe droughts, more frequent damaging storms, declining ocean health due to acidification, and reduced crop yields undermining food security. The choices that governments, companies and private citizens are making now will have vast implications for the prospects for ling-term sustainable development.

The GEF is committed to support enhanced action and ambition. The newly completed sixth replenishment of the GEF Trust Fund (GEF-6) together with our dedicated climate adaptation funds, will enable the GEF to make close to US$3 billion available for climate finance during the coming four years, with an expected US$30 billion being leveraged from other sources.

The GEF supports climate change initiatives in countries across a broad spectrum of action areas. A total of US$910 million was allocated to individual countries to support national climate change mitigation policies and strategies, enhanced renewable energy supply, increased energy efficiency, including through sustainable transport and urban design, expansion of climate smart agriculture, and work to reduce short-lived climate forcers. The GEF has also allocated US$225 million to support for UNFCCC-related reporting and assessments, including Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, and to help integrate their findings into national policy planning and implementation. In addition, the GEF expects to program up to US$1.4 billion towards enhanced resilience, adaptation and disaster risk reduction.

Building on the role of the GEF as a financial mechanism for many other Conventions, substantial climate-related finance is being directed to the sustainable management of forests, water, land and soils. During the next four years, the GEF will provide US$700 million to developing countries to support sustainable management of all types of forests, thereby generating multiple benefits in climate change mitigation, biodiversity and livelihoods. Similarly, GEF will provide US$ 430 million of additional funding to prevent land degradation that can help enhance carbon sequestration, strengthen resilience and improve livelihoods.

Finally, in the next four years the GEF will be providing dedicated financing for several high-impact initiatives: (i) US$100 million for a sustainable cities program to deliver global environmental benefits with local action; (ii) US$45 million for an integrated approach to eliminate deforestation from commodity supply chains; (iii) US$110 million to improve food security, strengthen resilience and enhance carbon sequestration in Sub-Saharan Africa. Finally, the GEF will be making available US$110 million for dedicated non-grant pilot funding to demonstrate the application of different financial instruments to fight climate change and other forms of environmental degradation mainly through private sector action. 

Fulfilling UNFCCC Objectives

GEF projects in climate change help developing countries and economies in transition to contribute to the overall objective of the UNFCCC "to achieve [...] stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. Such a level should be achieved within a time frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner" (from the text of the UNFCCC, Art.2).

The GEF supports projects in:

  • Climate Change Mitigation:Reducing or avoiding greenhouse gas emissions in the areas of renewable energy; energy efficiency; sustainable transport; and management of land use, land-use change ,and forestry (LULUCF)
  • Climate Change Adaptation: Aiming at developing countries to become climate-resilient by promoting both immediate and longer-term adaptation measures in development policies, plans, programs, projects, and actions.

As the financial mechanism of the UNFCCC, the GEF allocates and disburses hundreds of millions of dollars per year in projects in energy efficiency, renewable energy, sustainable urban transport and sustainable management of land use, land-use change, and forestry. The GEF also manages two separate adaptation-focused Funds under the UNFCCC — the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) and the Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF), which mobilize funding specifically earmarked for activities related to adaptation, and the latter also to technology transfer.