Global Environment Facility receives record funding pledges

Twenty-nine countries have jointly pledged US$5.25 billion for the Global Environment Facility (GEF), providing a major boost to international efforts to protect biodiversity and curb threats from climate change, plastics, and toxic chemicals through collaborative action this decade.

The new support increases the GEF’s funding by nearly 30% compared to its most recent four-year operating cycle. It comes at a critical moment for developing countries whose ability to tackle worsening environmental challenges has been strained by fiscal pressures from the COVID-19 pandemic and rising inflation.

“This successful replenishment is not only important for the programs and projects the GEF supports around the world and the global environmental benefits they yield. It is a strong signal that the international community is ready to work together on the tough challenges that require us all to be at the table, as we seek to restore the health of our planet and its people,” said Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, CEO and chairman of the GEF.

Biodiversity protection

The GEF is the primary source of financing for biodiversity protection globally and is the only multilateral fund working across all aspects of environmental health.

Its financial and policy support helps developing countries meet their obligations under the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Minamata Convention on Mercury, the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

“The robust result of the GEF replenishment is one that we can all be immensely proud of as it strengthens the Global Environment Facility’s role in environmental action for the benefit of nature and humanity,” said Akihiko Nishio, World Bank vice-president of development finance and co-chair of the replenishment process.

“The GEF has never been better suited to deal with global environmental challenges than at this moment, when the planet faces unprecedented risks and challenges.”

Biodiversity protection represents the biggest share of the GEF’s eighth programming period, known as GEF-8, which will run from July 2022 to June 2026. This support will be vital to the achievement of the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature, which aims to reverse biodiversity loss by 2030 through safeguards of land and ocean territory with globally important biodiversity.

Climate change

Other priorities in GEF-8 include addressing threats from climate change, land degradation, and chemicals and waste, and alleviating pressures on the ocean and international waterways, with support for projects and programs as well as international negotiations and their outcomes.

Much of the funding will be delivered through a set of 11 integrated programs that address multiple threats at once, such as environmental degradation linked to cities, food systems, plastics, water, and forest management.

The GEF’s expanded support in the coming four years will be crucial for the implementation of the new Global Biodiversity Framework, which is expected to be agreed at the Convention on Biological Diversity COP-15 summit later this year in Kunming, China.

Early action grants provided by the GEF in its seventh funding period have laid the groundwork for these efforts to reduce species loss and protect critical ecosystems.

$22 billion since launch

Since it was launched in 1991, the GEF has provided nearly $22 billion in grants and mobilized another $119 billion in co-financing to address environmental threats and protect biodiverse areas, on land and at sea. GEF investments have also averted more than nine billion tons of carbon emissions to date and have helped Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States bolster their defenses against climate change and other threats.

In its upcoming operating period, the GEF will continue to prioritize blended finance solutions and private sector engagement to mobilize additional funding for biodiversity, nature, and climate change. It will also work with governments to facilitate efficient, targeted funding, with engagement through an enhanced Country Support Program as well as knowledge exchange and learning initiatives connecting the GEF’s 184 member countries.