How Projects Work

In most cases, the GEF provides funding to support government projects and programs. Governments decide on the executing agency (governmental institutions, civil society organizations, private sector companies, research institutions).

There are many issues to consider when seeking GEF funding. Whom should I contact? Is my country/organization eligible for funding? Who will implement the project? What type of project should I consider? To help with these and other questions, please review each of the sections below.

Eligibility Criteria

All projects or programs must fulfill the following criteria to be eligible for GEF funding.

  • Eligible country: Countries may be eligible for GEF funding in one of two ways: a) if the country has ratified the conventions the GEF serves and conforms with the eligibility criteria decided by the Conference of the Parties of each convention; or b) if the country is eligible to receive World Bank (IBRD and/or IDA) financing or if it is an eligible recipient of UNDP technical assistance through its target for resource assignments from the core (specifically TRAC-1 and/or TRAC-2). 
  • National priority: The project must be driven by the country (rather than by an external partner) and be consistent with national priorities that support sustainable development.
  • GEF priorities: To achieve the objectives of multilateral environmental agreements, it is required that the GEF support country priorities that are ultimately aimed at tackling the drivers of environmental degradation in an integrated fashion. For this reason, the focal areas (Biodiversity, Climate Change, Land Degradation, International Waters, and Chemicals and Waste) remain the central organizing feature in the GEF-8 Programming Directions and provide countries with the opportunity to participate in selected “Integrated Programs” which aim to address major drivers of environmental degradation and/or deliver multiple benefits that fall under the GEF’s mandate (for more details, see the GEF-8 Programming Directions).
  • Financing: The project must seek GEF financing only for the agreed incremental costs on measures to achieve global environmental benefits.
  • Participation: The project must involve the public in project design and implementation, following the Policy on Stakeholder Engagement and the respective guidelines.

Choice of GEF Agency

The GEF has 18 partner agencies. The Operational Focal Point (OFP) decides which agency would be best suited to develop and implement the project idea. This is an important decision since the agency will be the partner at all stages of the project or program.

Types of Projects

The GEF provides funding through four modalities: full-sized projects, medium-sized projects, enabling activities, and programmatic approaches. The selected modality should be the one that best supports the project objectives. Each modality requires completion of a different template.

  • Full-sized Project (FSP): GEF project financing of more than two million US dollars.
  • Medium-sized Project (MSP): GEF project financing of less than or equivalent to two million US dollars.
  • Enabling Activity (EA): A project for the preparation of a plan, strategy, or report to fulfill commitments under a convention.
  • Program: A longer-term and strategic arrangement of individual yet interlinked projects that aim at achieving large-scale impacts on the global environment.

See GEF Policy and Program Cycle Policy for additional details.

Operational Focal Points

The Operational Focal Point coordinates all GEF-related activities within a country. The OFP reviews project ideas, checks against eligibility criteria, and ensures that new project ideas will not duplicate an existing project. Any project to be submitted for approval requires a Letter of Endorsement signed by the GEF OFP (see the Templates page).