The Global Environment Facility’s 186 member governments on Monday allocated $916 million for international action on biodiversity, climate change, nature renewal, and pollution control, and advanced five Integrated Programs designed to tackle complex challenges in their entirety.
The GEF Council, meeting in Washington DC, approved funding for 45 projects and programs, including four blended finance initiatives involving the private sector. The support will directly help more than 12 million people, including Indigenous Peoples and local communities.
The work program – the second-largest in the GEF’s history – includes $530 million for Integrated Programs for the ocean, food systems, transportation infrastructure, wildlife conservation, and critical forest biomes that have been designed to break down silos and advance holistic action across sectors and borders.
“To achieve impact that lasts, we need to work in an integrated and inclusive way,” said Carlos Manuel Rodríguez, GEF CEO and Chairperson. “The GEF is moving quickly and efficiently to target donor contributions to urgent needs. We also recognize that financing alone cannot reverse environmental degradation for the long term. This work program therefore stands out not only for its size but also for its focus on a whole-of-society approach to phasing out harmful practices.”
The GEF Trust Fund work program is set to mobilize $7.5 billion in co-financing, including from bilateral governments and multilateral development banks. It spans 77 countries including 22 Least Developed Countries and 14 Small Island Developing States, with the largest regional shares of the funding package going to Africa and Asia.
The total GEF Family of Funds financing package is expected to exceed $1 billion this week when the Council considers another $203 million from the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) and Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF). The new Global Biodiversity Framework Fund Council will also meet for the first time this week.
The GEF Trust Fund programming will contribute to global environment benefits across the board, with boosts for protected areas, landscape management, greenhouse gas emissions reduction, and terrestrial and marine ecosystems. It is also set to advance 21 of the 23 targets in the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.
With the Council’s decision, the GEF has deployed nearly half of the record $5.3 billion eighth replenishment for the 2022-2026 period.
While most of the GEF-8 support approved on Monday will be provided as grants, the work program also includes $81 million for four blended finance projects that are set to mobilize $1.36 billion in outside investment – a co-financing ratio of 17 to 1. This includes innovative initiatives related to biodiversity, climate change mitigation, land restoration, and chemicals and waste, and a particular focus on innovative capital market solutions and small- and medium-sized enterprises.
All the projects and program proposals in the work program include an overt gender emphasis as required in the GEF policies and guidance. This includes incorporating gender perspectives in project planning, working to ensure that women’s needs and potential contributions are taken into account, and that women benefit from work undertaken and can access related finance and other resources. Women, women’s groups, and gender experts are also key stakeholders in project and program design and assessment.
The financing package includes funding for four new Integrated Programs – Clean and Healthy Ocean, Food Systems, Greening Transportation Infrastructure Development, and Wildlife Conservation for Development – and the expansion of the previously approved Amazon, Congo, and Critical Forest Biomes Integrated Program to add projects in Guinea Bissau and Togo, and to include Guyana in efforts to integrate conservation efforts in the Amazon basin.
GEF-funded projects and programs are implemented by selected international organizations in partnership with national and local institutions. In this work program, the largest shares of the funding will be managed by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the UN Development Program, the International Fund for Agriculture Development, the World Bank, the World Wildlife Fund-US, and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
ANNEX: Work program projects and programs
Clean and Healthy Ocean Integrated Program – This program focuses on tackling the drivers of excess nutrient loads – such as nitrogen, phosphorous, or organic waste – that enter coastal marine environments from agricultural, industrial, and other use.
Food Systems Integrated Program - This program will focus on transforming global food systems so that they are sustainable, regenerative, nature-positive, climate-resistant, and pollution-free. It will focus on six crops and commodities as well as livestock and aquaculture.
Greening Transportation Infrastructure Development Integrated Program - This program aims to advance the transition towards sustainable transportation infrastructure that safeguards and enhances coastal, marine, and terrestrial ecosystems. It focuses on policy-making and planning.
Wildlife Conservation for Development Integrated Program - This program, building on the Global Wildlife Program, aims to sustain globally significant wildlife species by reducing threats from illegal wildlife use and trade, and building community buy-in for wildlife conservation.
Amazon, Congo and Critical Forest Biomes Integrated Program – This program aims to invest in the conservation and effective governance of critical forest biomes that sustain the health of the planet and flow of vital ecosystem services that underpin human well-being. The GEF Council expanded two initiatives related to this Integrated Program, including new projects in Guinea Bissau and in Togo, and adding Guyana to Amazon basin landscape conservation work.
Blended finance projects
Living Amazon Mechanism - The Living Amazon Mechanism is a blended finance mechanism that leverages on a capital markets product to finance conservation activities in the value chain of Natura, a major cosmetic company in Brazil.
IFC/GEF Green Global Supply Chain Decarbonization Platform - In this project IFC will collaborate with GEF to create the first of its kind global supply chain decarbonization platform to provide long-term, green-linked loans to manufacturers and suppliers in emerging markets.
Innovative use of financial instruments for biodiversity conservation and restoration in Latin America and the Caribbean - This project would set up a regional facility to offer credit enhancements for sovereign debt-for-nature conversions that will enable long-term financing for conservation and the sustainable management of protected areas in Latin America.
Private Sector Energy Efficiency Programme Phase 2 (PSEEP2) - This project will establish and capitalize a risk-sharing facility in South Africa to foster commercial lending for energy efficiency improvements by small and medium sized enterprises.
Selected other programs and projects
Global Clean Hydrogen Program - This program aims to boost national capacity, technological readiness and financial mechanisms for eight developing countries to increase their use of hydrogen as part of an effort to decarbonize.
Central Asia Water and Land Nexus for Ecosystem Restoration, Improved Natural Resource Management and Increased Resilience - This program focuses on the watershed comprising the Amu Darya Basin and the Syr Darya Basin, the primary source of water for five countries. It includes basin-level projects on basin-level cooperation around natural resource management.
Strengthening the System of Protected Areas and Improvement of its Financial Sustainability - This project will strengthen the system and financial sustainability of public protected areas in Paraguay by developing and implementing a project finance for permanence program for protected area financing.
Inclusive Conservation, Restoration, and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity in Priority Ecoregions -This project aims to help Argentina conserve biodiversity and restore degraded ecosystems through strengthened governance and policy guidance. It will also support the country’s first National Restoration Plan for Biodiversity.
Acción Páramos: conservation, restoration and sustainable use of the páramosin Ecuador - This project will promote the conservation, restoration, and sustainable use of the páramo -- a high-altitude grassland biome in the tropical Andes -- in Ecuador.
Reimagining National Parks for People and Nature - Mega Living Landscapes Project - This project will help South Africa expand its protected areas system and boost pro-nature economic development. It will focus on areas where existing protected areas can be expanded.
Energy resilience and security for the residential and public sector in Antigua and Barbuda - This project will create a sustainable market mechanism for climate-resilient distributed renewable energy systems in Antigua and Barbuda.
Integrated Management for Sustainable Reduction of POPs, Highly Hazardous Pesticides, and industrial chemicals in Argentina - This project aims to reduce the use and release of hazardous chemicals and waste in Argentina by strengthening institutions, updating regulatory measures, and making supply chains greener.
Towards a more circular Uruguay (Uruguay + Circular) - This project will help Uruguay move towards a more circular economy and transform towards zero waste and zero pollution. It will target sectors including food, plastics, vehicles, and construction value chains.
Integrated Program for HFC Phasing Down and Sustainable Cooling for Tajikistan - This program will help support the government of Tajikistan to meet its goal of phasing out its hydrofluorocarbon (HFCs) consumption by 2029. It would also work to improve energy efficiency in the cooling sector.
Eliminating hazardous chemicals from the supply chain of the construction sector in Morocco - This project will promote a green transformation of the construction supply chain by replacing resource-intensive and hazardous materials with environmentally sound alternatives, while also promoting circular approaches and regenerative designs across the entire supply chain.
Polychlorinated Biphenyls-free Indonesia: Financing a shift to more efficient energy systems through the elimination of related waste and contaminated equipment - This project will strengthen management and regulation of polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, in Indonesia. It will support environmentally-sound PCB disposal.
Sound management of polychlorobiphenyls in Cote d’Ivoire, phase II - objective 2028 of the Stockholm Convention - This project will set up a framework for an environmentally sound management of PCBs in Côte d'Ivoire. It will update the inventory of PCB-containing transformers and set up mechanisms for the disposal of PCB-contaminated equipment.
Accelerating Transition to a Circular Economy in India’s Electrical and Electronic Sector through Sustainable Integrated Approaches - This project aims to improve India’s ability to manage electrical and electronic waste, or e-waste. This will help reduce the adverse effects of pollutants and heavy metal released in the current system of disposing of e-waste.
Program for improving sustainable marine fisheries opportunities in SADC – The Case of the Mozambique Channel - This project will improve aquatic health and marine systems in the Mozambique Channel through critical, harmonized interventions in selected fisheries hotspots.
Strengthening integrated transboundary source-to-sea management of the Ruvuma River Basin and its coastal zones to ensure ecosystem health and livelihood security - Through interlinking governance structures for land and freshwater with coastal and marine management, the project aims to establish the region’s first integrated natural resources governance framework.
Implementation of the La Plata Basin SAP priorities through regional and national actions - This project will support the countries of the La Plata Basin – Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay – as they implement priority actions in their joint plan to cooperatively manage shared water resources and sustainable development in the basin.
Adaptive management and restoration of degraded Aleppo pine forest in the Kasserine governorate (Tunisia) to strengthen resilience to climate change, conserve biodiversity, improve productivity and food security - This project would develop adaptive and integrated management plans to restore ecosystem services in Tunisia’s Kasserine region.
Restoring Ecosystem Connectivity for Biodiversity and Sustainable Livelihoods in the Litani Watershed Project (ECONNECT) - This project will implement sustainable landscape management approaches in Lebanon’s Upper Litani Basin. It will focus on biodiversity-friendly agriculture, aquaculture and the transformation of crop and aquaculture sectors.
Recovering the Sustainability of Ecosystems Affected by Drought in Northeastern Argentina - This project aims to strengthen sustainable land management of degraded ecosystems in drought-hit areas.
Improving wetlands management for biodiversity and improved human-wildlife coexistence - This project in Timor Leste aims to protect biodiversity through improved wetland management and improving the way humans and crocodiles coexist. To do this, the project will work with the government to improve management of five wetland sites, and improve government capacities to manage human-crocodile conflict.
BioSouth: The Pacific-Andean-Amazonian Ecological and Cultural Connectivity Corridor - This project aims to strengthen the ecological and cultural connectivity of the Bio South Pacific-Andean-Amazonian Corridor in southwestern Colombia.
Restoration and Preservation of Key Biodiversity Areas and Ecosystems in Anbar Province, Iraq - This project aims to enhance Iraq’s natural ecosystem resilience by integrating biodiversity and ecosystem services concerns into environmental land use planning and sustainable land management policies and practices.
Lake Ecosystem Restoration in Indonesia through Integrated Governance, Landscape, and Community-based Approaches - The project will strengthen the enabling environment for integrated lake ecosystem management and governance in Indonesia.
Tajikistan Ecosystem Restoration and Resilient Agriculture (TERRA) Project - This project will apply integrated landscape management approaches to restore degraded grassland ecosystems in the Lower Panjriver sub-basin in Khatlon province.
Enhancing biodiversity conservation and reducing climate vulnerability in Central Vietnam for sustainable development utilizing a landscape approach - This project aims to establish a sustainable, replicable, and collaborative landscape-scale conservation model to promote biodiversity conservation and reduce climate vulnerability in central Vietnam.
Restoration and sustainable management of land for improved livelihoods in the degraded landscapes of Free State and Northwest Provinces of South Africa - This project aims to enable South Africa to achieve its land degradation neutrality targets in Free State and Northwest provinces.
Sustainable Wool and Mohair Value chain Competitiveness project (WaMCoP) - This project aims to increase the economic and climate resilience of wool and mohair farmers in Lesotho through better governance, environmental monitoring, market incentives, and the development of sustainable standards.
Restoration of Wetlands and other important Amazonian Ecosystems - Capacity-building, innovation, development and technological transfer for ecological restoration and climate change mitigation - This project aims to restore wetland and lowland forest ecosystems and biodiversity in the Amazon mainland and coast.
Promoting sustainable economic benefits through the conservation of critical biodiversity and ecosystem services in the Eastern Coastal Region of Sri Lanka - This project aims to conserve biodiversity and critical ecosystem services through an integrated resource management approach in Sri Lanka.
Rehabilitating and conserving the mountain landscapes in Khangai region of Mongolia for improved ecosystem services and community livelihoods - This project aims to rehabilitate degraded lands and promote community-based natural resource management in the Khangai mountain landscapes of Mongolia.
Enhancing transboundary fisheries management in the Lower Mekong Basin - The project will aim to harmonize fisheries governance and stabilize fish stocks in the Lower Mekong to sustain livelihoods and food security.
Sustainable Management of Ecosystems in Miombo Ecoregions of Zambia – This project aims to sustainably restore and manage the Miombo forest ecosystems and agro-pastoral landscapes, and also to enhance the resilience of vulnerable communities. The focus is in the Copperbelt, Central and Muchinga provinces of Zambia.
Barbados - Accelerating transition to climate-resilient agrifood systems (BATCRAS) - The goal of this project is to accelerate the transition to climate resilient and low-emission agrifood systems and strengthen the adaptive capacity of farmers in Barbados.
Building climate resilience of communities in Cambodia’s protected landscapes: biodiversity-friendly crop-livestock systems for adaptation - This program aims to strengthen the climate resilience of local communities, ecosystems and livelihoods in protected landscapes in Cambodia.
Land Degradation Neutrality for Increased Resilience to Climate Change in Dominican Republic - This project seeks to build climate resilience of the food and agriculture sector for vulnerable communities of the Dominican Republic.