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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.


Figure showing amounts for each GEF replenishment cycleThe GEF administers several trust funds and provides secretariat services, on an interim basis, for the Adaptation Fund.

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) Trust Fund 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 40 GEF donor countries.

GEF funds are available to developing countries and countries with economies in transition to meet the objectives of the international environmental conventions and agreements. 

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 in formation.

Other Trust Funds

The Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF) supports adaptation and technology transfer in all developing country parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), supporting both long-term and short-term adaptation activities in water resources management, land management, agriculture, health, infrastructure development, fragile ecosystems, including mountainous ecosystems, and integrated coastal zone management. Read more

The Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF), established under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), addresses the special needs of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) that are especially vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change. 

The LDCF reduces the vulnerability of sectors and resources that are central to development and livelihoods, such as water, agriculture and food security, health, disaster risk management and prevention, infrastructure, and fragile ecosystems.

Tasked with financing the preparation and implementation of National Adaptation Programs of Action (NAPAs). NAPAs use existing information to identify a country’s priorities for adaptation actions. The LDCF is the only existing fund whose mandate is to finance the preparation and implementation of the NAPAs. Read more

As part of the Paris Agreement, Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) agreed to establish a Capacity-building Initiative for Transparency (CBIT). The goal of CBIT is to strengthen the institutional and technical capacities of developing countries to meet the enhanced transparency requirements of the Paris Agreement, as defined in Article 13.

The Nagoya Protocol Fund supports signatory countries, as well as those in the process of signing The Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization (the Nagoya Protocol) and that intend to ratify the Protocol in order to accelerate the ratification and implementation of the Protocol. 

The fund encourages engagement with private sector entities interested in exploring the economic potential of genetic resources and facilitate the transfer of appropriate technologies. Through the implementation of this type of project, countries should be generating additional information that can help to understand their capacities and needs on Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS), with focus on the provisions from existing policies, laws and regulations affecting genetic resources.

The Adaptation Fund (AF) was established to finance concrete adaptation projects and programmes in developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change. It was established under the Kyoto Protocol of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and since 2010 has committed funds for localized climate adaptation and resilience activities. Initiatives are based on country needs and priorities. 

AF is one of the most innovative and unique climate funds, and has achieved impressive progress in just a few short years. It has proven its effectiveness as a highly efficient and transparent Fund for channeling adaptation finance to developing countries by pioneering Direct Access, in which accredited National Implementing Entities (NIEs) can directly access climate finance and manage projects from design through implementation while building the country’s own local and national adaptive capacity. AF-funded projects are implemented around the world through accredited National Implementing Entities, Multilateral Implementing Entities and Regional Implementing Entities. The Fund also has a growing Readiness Programme that provides capacity building workshops, small technical assistance grants and south to south cooperation to facilitate accreditation of new implementing entities and reach more vulnerable communities with urgently needed climate adaptation solutions. 

The original primary source of revenue for the Fund – the sale of Certified Emission Reduction credits through a 2% levy on UN Clean Development Mechanism projects that help meet Kyoto’s emission reduction targets – has drastically diminished due to market forces. The Fund is increasingly attracting funds through developed country and private donations by delivering concrete, effective and localized projects and continuing to innovate through pioneering programs like Direct Access, human-rights-based social and environmental risk management policies, a gender policy and action plan, and flexible finance modalities. The Fund is also in high demand, receiving record numbers of project proposals in 2015. Projects are country-driven, replicable and scalable. 

Further, the Paris Climate Agreement included adaptation as a key component in the global response to climate change and recognized that the AF may serve the Agreement, subject to a process that has already started. The Adaptation Fund is overseen by the Adaptation Fund Board, which has a majority of members that represent developing countries and meets in person twice a year to review policy and project proposals. Read more

Apply for Funding

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 expand each of the sections 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: 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 Mitigation, Land Degradation, International Waters and Chemicals and Waste), which remain the central organizing feature in the GEF-7 Programming Directions, provide countries with the opportunity to participate in selected “Impact Programs” focusing on 1) Food Systems, Land Use and Restoration; 2) Sustainable Cities; and 3) Sustainable Forest Management (for more details, see annex A of the GEF-7 Programming Directions Documents).
  • 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 Public Involvement in GEF-Financed Projects and the respective guidelines.

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.

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): 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.

The GEF 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. Any project to be submitted for approval requires a Letter of Endorsement signed by the GEF OFP.