Under the 7th GEF replenishment, also known as GEF-7, new Impact Programs on Food Systems, Land Use and Restoration; Sustainable Forest Management; and Sustainable Cities are being developed to address the drivers of environmental degradation in a transformative way and offer the potential for the GEF to support systemic change. The Impact Programs seek to advance the integrated approach which complements GEF-supported projects in specific focal areas.

Food Systems, Land Use and Restoration

Nearly 2 billion hectares of cropland, grazing land, forests, and woodlands are already degraded. With 50% of the planet’s landmass being used to grow food, the potential for environmental degradation will only increase as agriculture continues to expand. This has negative impacts on ecosystem services, including the quality and availability of clean water, clean air, and habitats for wildlife.

Through the Impact Program on Food Systems, Land Use and Restoration, GEF funding is helping countries ensure that production systems are embedded within wider landscapes to safeguard the natural capital (land, soil, biodiversity, and water) and ecosystem services on which they depend.

To achieve its goals, the Impact Program is targeting large production landscapes that have the potential to deliver Global Environmental Benefits at scale and be sustained after the program concludes. Country projects will be designed to address multiple challenges and support initiatives including: 1) development of Integrated Landscape Management Systems; 2) promotion of sustainable food production and responsible commodity value chains; and 3) promotion of large-scale restoration of degraded landscapes.

The Impact Program will also build a global coalition to engage stakeholders in the major food systems and supply chains, including existing platforms such as the Good Growth Partnership, Food and Land Use Coalition, Tropical Forest Alliance, Consumer Goods Forum, Bonn Challenge, and others, to work collectively with countries toward achieving sustainability.

Related topics and focal areas: Commodities, Food Security, Land Degradation, Climate Change Mitigation

Sustainable Cities

Recognizing the centrality of cities as key climate and sustainable development actors, the GEF created the Sustainable Cities Integrated Approach Pilot Program in GEF-6. Building on the GEF-6 pilot, the Impact Program brings together investments for more integrated sustainable cities with a global knowledge sharing and learning platform to build momentum, raise ambitions, secure commitments, and implement integrated solutions on the ground that require new behaviors by all actors. Country-level projects combine a series of features that provide the conditions to transform how cities undertake integrated planning, select strategic investments, and scale up approaches to become more sustainable.

Along with country projects, the global knowledge platform will accelerate replication within the city, country and beyond, serving as an inspiration for others, an outlet for knowledge and further building capacity in its wake. The platform includes global city-based organizations (C40, ICLEI) and WRI as a technical partner, which together represent a network of hundreds of cities globally. This will enable the GEF to leverage their networks, partnerships with local governments, and urban practitioners and pool of thought leaders to design and deliver innovative and impactful sustainability solutions.

Related topic and focal area: Sustainable Cities

Sustainable Forest Management

Tropical forests support approximately 70 percent of the world’s plant and animal species and drylands are home to more than 2 billion people and contain 44% of the world’s agricultural land. Rapid development and competing land uses, particularly for farming and grazing lands, commercial plantations, and infrastructure expansion, have cut wide swaths through the world’s forests.

There are few places in the world where intact forest biomes still exist. Preserving these through forest protection, management, and restoration is the underlying goal of the Sustainable Forest Management Impact Program, which focuses on the Amazon, the Congo Basin, and important dryland landscapes around the world.

The Sustainable Forest Management Impact Program aims to deploy an integrated approach that can produce multiple benefits for biodiversity, climate change, and land degradation. Through this Impact Program, the GEF will seek to maintain the ecological integrity of the Amazon, Congo, and targeted drylands biomes through a concentration of efforts and investments, focusing on the enabling environment, sustainable financing, and sustainable forest management, all underpinned by strong regional and cross-border coordination.

Related topics and focal areas: Sustainable Forest Management, Forests, Land Degradation, Amazon