Global Environmental Facility (GEF)
The Global Environment Facility was established on the eve of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit to help tackle our planet’s most pressing environmental problems. GEF funding to support the projects is contributed by donor countries. These financial contributions are replenished every four years (see GEF Replenishment documents) by the GEF 39 donor countries. Today, the GEF is an international partnership of 183 countries, international institutions, civil society organizations and the private sector that addresses global environmental issues.
The World Bank serves as the GEF Trustee, administering the GEF Trust Fund (contributions by donors). The Trustee helps mobilize GEF resources; disburses funds to GEF Agencies; prepares financial reports on investments and use of resources; and monitors application of budgetary and project funds. The Trustee creates periodic reports that contain an array of fund-specific financial information.
The main priority fields supported by the GEF are:
- Chemicals and waste
- Climate Change
- International Waters
- Land degradation
Type of support provided
GEF funds are available to developing countries and countries with economies in transition to meet the objectives of the international environmental conventions and agreements.
GEF support is provided to government agencies, civil society organizations, private sector companies, research institutions, among the broad diversity of potential partners, to implement projects and programs in recipient countries.
Applying for funding
In most cases, the GEF provides funding to support government projects and programs. Governments decide on the executing agency (e.g. civil society organizations, private sector companies, and research institutions).
There are many issues to consider when seeking GEF funding. Who 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 continue reading below.
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: The project has to address one or more of the GEF focal area strategies (Biodiversity, International Waters, Land Degradation, Chemicals and Waste, and Climate Change Mitigation, as well as cross-cutting issues like sustainable forest management).
Financing: The project has to 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 Public Involvement in GEF-Financed Projects and the respective guidelines.
Choice of GEF Agency
The GEF has 18 Partner Agencies. The Operational Focal Point 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. (https://www.thegef.org/documents/templates)
- Full-sized Project (FSP): means a GEF Project Financing of more than two million US dollars.
- Medium-sized Project (MSP): means a GEF Project Financing of less than or equivalent to two million US dollars.
- Enabling Activity (EA): means a project for the preparation of a plan, strategy or report to fulfill commitments under a Convention.
- Program: means 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 (OFP) 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. Before contacting the Operational Focal Point, we suggest that you review the eligibility criteria (below) and check the Country Profile.
Country eligibility for GEF financing is defined in the 9th paragraph of the GEF Instrument.
“9. GEF funding shall be made available for activities within the focal areas defined in paragraphs 2 and 3 of this Instrument in accordance with the following eligibility criteria:
(a) GEF grants that are made available within the framework of the financial mechanisms of the conventions referred to in paragraph 6 shall be in conformity with the eligibility criteria decided by the Conference of the Parties of each convention, as provided under the arrangements or agreements referred to in paragraph 27.
(b) All other GEF grants shall be made available to eligible recipient countries and, where appropriate, for other activities promoting the purposes of the Facility in accordance with this paragraph and any additional eligibility criteria determined by the Council. A country shall be an eligible recipient of GEF grants if it is eligible to borrow from the World Bank (IBRD and/or IDA) or if it is an eligible recipient of UNDP technical assistance through its country Indicative Planning Figure (IPF). GEF grants for activities within a focal area addressed by a convention referred to in paragraph 6 but outside the framework of the financial mechanism of the convention, shall only be made available to eligible recipient countries that are party to the convention concerned.”
In other words, countries are eligible for GEF funding in a focal area if:
- They meet eligibility criteria established by the relevant COP of that convention
- They are members of the conventions and are countries eligible to borrow from the World Bank (IBRD and/or IDA)
- They are eligible recipients of UNDP technical assistance through country programming.
Contact details of the GEF focal points in the region of Central Asia can be found on this website.