The Global Environment Facility (GEF), on February 5, 2024, received a significant allocation of $916 million from its 186 member governments. This financial aid addresses crucial global issues such as biodiversity, climate change, nature restoration, and pollution management. To tackle these complex challenges comprehensively, the GEF Council, convened in Washington DC, approved five Integrated Programmes. A total of 45 projects and programmes were granted funding, four of which were collaborative efforts involving the private sector to promote blended finance initiatives. Over 12 million individuals, comprising Indigenous Peoples as well as local communities, will directly benefit from the aid provided.
Carlos Manuel Rodríguez, CEO and Chairperson of GEF, emphasised the importance of an integrated and inclusive approach to achieve lasting impact. The work programme, which is the second-largest in GEF’s history, allocates $530 million for Integrated Programmes focused on the ocean, wildlife conservation, food systems, transportation infrastructure, and critical forest biomes. These programs aim to resolve the barriers between sectors and countries, fostering holistic action for a more sustainable future. The GEF is swiftly and effectively working towards directing donor contributions to address pressing matters.
Africa and Asia receive substantial portions of the funding package.
They acknowledge that solely providing funds will not be sufficient to combat long-lasting environmental deterioration effectively. Hence, what sets this work program apart is its substantial magnitude and its emphasis on adopting a comprehensive approach involving all sectors of society to eliminate harmful practices. The GEF Trust Fund work programme aims to garner $7.5 billion in co-financing, which bilateral governments and multilateral development banks will contribute. 77 countries, consisting of 22 Least Developed Countries and 14 Small Island Developing States, are encompassed by it. Africa and Asia receive the most substantial portions of the funding package among all the regions.
This week, the Council is set to review an additional $203 million from the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) and Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF), which will bring the total financing package of the GEF Family of Funds to over $1 billion. Simultaneously, the inaugural gathering of the Global Biodiversity Framework Fund Council is scheduled to take place this week. The allocation of resources from the GEF Trust Fund will enhance environmental outcomes on a global scale, benefiting various areas such as protected territories and landscape administration, minimising greenhouse gas emissions, and enhancing terrestrial and marine ecosystems. Additionally, it will actively promote the achievement of 21 out of the 23 goals in the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.
Inclusion of women’s needs and contributions will be ensured.
Following the Council’s resolution, the GEF has utilised almost 50% of the unprecedented $5.3 billion eighth replenishment dedicated for 2022-2026. Although the majority of the assistance sanctioned under GEF-8 will be granted, the project plan encompasses $81 million assigned to four blended finance initiatives, aiming to attract $1.36 billion in external investments. This would result in a remarkable co-financing ratio of 17 to 1. The range of endeavours encompasses inventive undertakings associated with biodiversity conservation, measures against climate change, the revival of lands, and management of chemicals and waste. It emphasises explicitly financial solutions and the support for small- and medium-sized businesses.
Also, the work programme requires that all projects and programme proposals prioritise gender balance in accordance with GEF policies and guidance. This involves integrating gender perspectives into project planning, ensuring the inclusion of women’s needs and contributions, and facilitating their access to financial support and other essential resources. Project and programme design and assessment involve the active involvement of women, women’s groups, and gender experts as crucial stakeholders. The financing pack comprises financial support for four fresh Integrated Programs, including Clean and Healthy Ocean, Food Systems, Greening Transportation Infrastructure Development, and Wildlife Conservation for Development.
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Additionally, the expansion of the formerly authorised Amazon, Congo, and Critical Forest Biomes Integrated Program is included. This expansion introduces projects in Guinea Bissau and Togo and encompasses Guyana in the endeavour to consolidate conservation efforts within the Amazon basin. Selected international organisations collaborate with national and local institutions to execute GEF-funded projects and programs. In this specific undertaking, 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 will predominantly oversee the allocation of funds.