Global Environment Facility


Global Environment Facility

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) claims to unite 178 countries in partnership with international institutions, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and the private sector to 'address' global environmental issues while supporting national sustainable development initiatives. Today the GEF is the largest funder of projects intended to improve the global environment. An independent financial organization under the wing of the World Bank, the GEF provides grants for projects related to biodiversity, climate change, international waters, land degradation, the ozone layer, and persistent organic pollutants.

GEF funding

Since 1991, GEF has provided $7.6 billion in grants and leveraging $30.6 billion in co-financing for over 2,000 projects in over 165 countries. Up to 20% of this funding flows through Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs).

The GEF is also the financial mechanism for four international environmental conventions:

* The Convention on Biological Diversity
* The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
* The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification
* The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants

As such, the GEF helps fund initiatives that are intended to assist developing countries in meeting the objectives of the Conventions. GEF is also supposed to collaborate closely with other international treaties and agreements, and after the Bali climate meeting on December 2007, has been approved - in the face of entrenched hostility from G77 nations and civil society - to host the interim secretariat for the 'adaptation fund'.

GEF funds are contributed by donor countries. In 2002, 32 donor countries pledged $3 billion to fund operations through 2006. At the Fourth GEF Assembly in 2006, an additional $3.13 billion was committed.

GEF structure

The GEF Assembly is the governing body of the GEF, in which representatives of all 176 member countries participate. It meets every three to four years, and is responsible for reviewing and evaluating the GEF's general policies, the operation of the GEF, and its membership. Ministers and high-level government delegations of all GEF member countries take part in the meetings.

The GEF Assembly selects a subset of its members to serve on the GEF Council. The GEF Council functions as an independent board of directors, with primary responsibility for developing, adopting, and evaluating GEF programs. Council members representing 32 constituencies (16 from developing countries, 14 from developed countries, and two from countries with transitional economies) meet twice each year for three days and also conduct business by mail. All decisions are by consensus. The Council's open door policy toward non-governmental organizations and representatives of civil society makes it unique among international financial institutions.

The GEF Secretariat, with a staff of 40 based in Washington, D.C. working under the CEO (currently Monique Barbut), reports directly to the GEF Council and Assembly, seeking to translate their decisions into effective actions. The secretariat coordinates the formulation of projects included in the annual work program, oversees its implementation, and attempts to ensure that operational strategy and policies are followed.

The new restructured GEF claims to tap into the 'comparative advantages' of experienced institutions to manage and implement its projects. In reality there is often competition and structural inefficiency - inevitable in an institutional 'egosystem' of such complexity and with such diverse aspirations as these global bodies. These ten implementing agencies are:

* United Nations Development Programme
* United Nations Environment Programme
* World Bank
* Food and Agriculture Organisation
* Inter-American Development Bank
* UNIDO
* Asian Development Bank
* African Development Bank
* European Bank for Reconstruction and Development
* International Fund for Agricultural Development

Teamwork by these agencies is supposed to be reinforcing their individual efforts to 'mainstream' or incorporate global environment concerns into all of their policies and programs. Their real world success is clearly limited, otherwise they would have worked themselves out of a job well before now, with the environmental crisis either solved or well on the way to it... rather than intensifying as it unfortunately is.

An independent GEF Evaluation Office is also located in Washington, D.C., and reports directly to the GEF Council. The scope of its reports are limited by their authors' 'Terms of Reference', but they often offer valuable hints as to where exactly money is being wasted and policies misdirected.

External links

* [http://www.thegef.org/What_is_the_GEF/what_is_the_gef.html What is the GEF?]
* [http://www.iwlearn.net GEF International Waters Resource Centre]
* [http://www.newgreenorder.info Independent academic research-based critiques of the GEF]
* [http://www.environmental-finance.com/onlinews/3108gef.htm $3.13 billion pledged to Global Environment Facility] (31 August 2006)

See also

* Climate Investment Funds


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