GEF Trust Fund – Climate Change focal area


The Global Environment Facility Trust Fund supports the implementation of multilateral environmental agreements, and serves as a financial mechanism of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. It is the longest standing dedicated public climate change fund. Climate Change is one of the six focal areas supported by the GEF Trust Fund. The GEF also administers several funds established under the UNFCCC including the Least Developed Countries Trust Fund (LDCF), the Special Climate Change Trust Fund (SCCF) and is interim secretariat for the Adaptation Fund.

Details on our Data


  • Updated information on contributions as of May 2017 and projects approvals as of May 2017.
  • Latest confirmation received from Fund Managers: May 2017.
  • All GEF-4 projects with amount approved equal to ‘0’ represent projects that have been cancelled.
  • SPA projects are sourced by the GEF Trust Fund.

Basic Description

Name of Fund The GEF Trust Fund – Climate Change focal area (GEF-4, GEF-5, GEF-6)
Official Website
Date Created Date fund proposed: 1991

Date fund made operational: The GEF Trust fund was established in 1994, and succeeded the Global Environment Trust Fund (GET) of the pilot phase (1991-1994). The GEF Trust Fund is replenished every 4-years. CFU only monitors the last three GEF cycles: GEF-4 (2006 – 2010), GEF-5 (2010 – 14) and GEF-6 (2014-18). Although GEF-5 is now closed, approved funding is still being disbursed.

Proposed Life of Fund GEF-1: 1994-1998
GEF-2: 1998-2002
GEF-3: 2002-2006
GEF-4: 2006-2010
GEF-5: 2010-2014
GEF-6: 2014-2018
(The years in “Approval Period From … To …” of GEF projects list refer to the Fiscal Year. GEF-5 finished with FY14 (30/6/2014) and GEF-6 started with FY15 (1/7/2015).
Administrating Organisation Global Environment Facility (GEF) has an independent secretariat based in Washington DC. The World Bank acts as the financial trustee of the GEF.

All GEF projects including LDCF and SCCF are subject to a flat 10% agency fee, which is paid on top of the project grant. This covers the services of the implementing agencies (UNDP, UNEP, IFAD, FAO, WB and others) in assisting the countries in preparing and implementing the project.

Objectives The GEF aims to help developing countries and economies in transition to contribute to the overall objective of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to both mitigate and adapt to climate change, while enabling sustainable economic development. The GEF is intended to cover the incremental costs of a measure to address climate change relative to a business as usual base line.
Activities Supported Activities supported include:

Climate Change Mitigation: Reducing or avoiding greenhouse gas emissions in the areas of renewable energy; energy efficiency; sustainable transport; and management of land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF)

Climate Change Adaptation: Supporting developing countries to become climate-resilient by promoting both immediate and longer-term adaptation measures in development policies, plans, programs, projects, and actions.

All adaptation related work for the GEF-5 2010–14 cycle are to be  financed through the LDCF and SCCF. The activities supported by GEF 5 are in accordance to its 6 strategic objectives to promote and support: demonstration, deployment, and transfer of innovative, low-carbon technologies.

Projects are expected to achieve the following objectives:

  • Market transformation for energy efficiency in the industrial and buildings sectors
  • Investment in renewable energy technologies
  • Energy-efficient, low-carbon transport and urban systems
  • Conservation and enhancement of carbon stock through sustainable management of land use, land-use change, and forestry
  • Enabling activities and capacity building
The fund has adapted its objectives for the GEF-6 funding cycle. Projects approved from 2014-18 under the GEF’s climate mitigation focal area are expected to contribute to the following objectives:
  • Promote innovation, technology transfer, and supportive policies and strategies
  • Demonstrate systemic impacts of mitigation options
  • Foster enabling conditions to mainstream mitigation concerns into sustainable development strategies
  • Enabling activities and capacity building
The programming strategy for GEF-6 places more emphasis that in the past on cross-focal area programmatic approaches, rather than more specific support to individual technology projects for instance. The fund has approved three large ‘Integrated Approach Pilots’ on: ‘Sustainable Cities’; ‘Taking Deforestation out of Global Commodity Supply Chains’; and ‘Sustainability and Resilience for Food Security in Sub-Saharan Africa’.
Conditions and Eligibility Requirements A country is an eligible recipient of GEF grants if it is eligible to borrow from the World Bank or if it is an eligible recipient of UNDP technical assistance. The GEF can only offer finance in a form other than grants within the framework of the convention in accordance with eligibility criteria decided by the convention COP. The council can offer finance on other terms as long as it is not in acting as the official financial mechanism of the convention.

Any eligible individual or group may propose a project that meets the following criteria:

  • Consistent with national priorities and programs in an eligible country, and endorsed by the government
  • Addresses one or more GEF Focal Areas, improving the global environment or advance the prospect of reducing risks to it.
  • Consistent with the GEF operational strategy.
  • Seeks GEF financing only for the agreed-on incremental costs on measures to achieve global environmental benefits
  • Involves the public in project design and implementation.
Accessing the Fund


In May 2011, the GEF Council approved policies, procedures, and criteria for a pilot programme to accredit new institutions, including recipient country agencies, to serve as GEF Partners.

The new agencies to be accredited will be referred to as GEF Project Agencies. Upon accreditation, GEF Project Agencies will work directly with the GEF Secretariat and Trustee to assist recipient countries in the preparation and implementation of GEF-financed projects, which will enable them to access resources from GEF-managed trust funds directly.

The type of agencies eligible for accreditation are:

  • National institutions
  • Regional organizations
  • Civil society organizations/non-governmental organizations
  • United Nations specialized agencies and programs and
  • Other international organizations.

Fund Governance

Decision Making Structure

GEF governance is composed of: the Assembly, the Council (the primary decision-making body), the Secretariat, ten Agencies, a Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel (STAP), and the Independent Office of Monitoring and Evaluation.The Assembly is the governing body of the GEF in which representatives of all 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. The Assembly is also responsible for considering and approving proposed amendments to the GEF Instrument, the document that established the GEF and set the rules by which the GEF operates.

The Council is the primary governing body and makes decisions by consensus. It comprises  14 members from donor constituencies and 18 from recipient constituencies. It meets every six months to develop, adopt and evaluate operational policies and programs, and reviewing and approving the work program (projects submitted for approval).The GEF Secretariat coordinates the overall implementation and is headed by a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) appointed to serve for three years.

The GEF develops projects through ten Implementing Agencies: the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) the World Bank, the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the Inter-American Development Bank (IAD), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).

The Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel (STAP) provides independent advice; its members are appointed by the Executive Director of UNEP, in consultation with the GEF’s CEO, the Administrator of UNDP, and the President of the World Bank.

An Independent Office of Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) informs decision-making on amendments and improvements; and promotes accountability for the effective use of resources while supporting knowledge management and learning.

GEF Focal Points (Country Representatives) are government officials, designated by member countries, responsible for GEF activities and to ensure that GEF projects are country-driven and based on national priorities.

The project cycle of full-size projects can be summarized by the following steps:
Council approval (which corresponds to steps 1 and 2 of the figure) of a project concept (so-called PIF: Project Identification Form). This step can be skipped if the grant request is below US$ 2 million and no PPG is needed.

CEO approval/ CEO endorsement (which correspond to step 3 of the figure) of a fully developed project proposal. Once a project is CEO endorsed, the GEF Trustee releases the required project funds for transfer to the Implementing Agency.

Project implementation (which corresponds to step 4 of the figure) is the implementation phase undertaken by the Implementing Agency.

Non-Government Stakeholder Participation Nongovernmental Organisations (NGOs) participate in the GEF NGO Consultation and Council Meeting through the GEF-NGO network.

The GEF-NGO Network comprises all accredited NGOs to the GEF. For representation at the Council meetings, the network is divided into regions according to the GEF regional structure. Currently, some 600 NGOs are accredited to the GEF. The network aims to strengthen and influence the work of the GEF at all levels with an aim to integrate NGOs at appropriate levels of decision-making and implementation of programmes and projects in an accountable, transparent and participatory way to ensure a maximum degree of good governance.

The GEF-NGO Consultation is a meeting attended by NGOs, the GEF Secretariat, together with the implementing and executing agencies. Council members are also invited to attend. NGOs voice concerns, comment on policies and projects, and present positions on substantive issues.

In GEF Council meetings, NGOs can make interventions as observers. The same NGO representative that has been selected to present an intervention during the Consultation will also be responsible for presenting the intervention during the Council meeting. NGOs share their passes to attend the Council meeting, to give everyone the chance to be in the room to make the interventions and follow the discussions. The rest of the NGOs are allowed to follow the discussions through TV circuit in the observer’s room.

A complete guide to the Global Environmental Facility for Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) can be found here.

Information Disclosure The Financial Status Report contains the information on the progress of donor contributions. The GEF has an online database that includes information on all its projects.
Issues Raised
As the longest standing of the dedicated public climate funds, the GEF has been the subject of significant scrutiny, analysis and debate. Despite its decision-making structure which gives developing countries substantial representation, the GEF is seen as a donor driven institution because of its double majority voting structure which gives developed countries more voice when consensus cannot be reached, and because contributor countries have made GEF replenishments conditional on the adoption of new processes and conditions. 

The decision-making structure of the GEF is quite complex and perceived as opaque. The project cycle is cumbersome and slow, and there is a high level of bureaucracy and transaction costs at every stage of the process. The GEF has tended to support one off projects rather than programmatic approaches, and has been criticised for not focusing on underlying policy, regulatory and strategic barriers to environmental sustainability.

Furthermore, it has directed limited funding for adaptation and vulnerable countries.

Relationship with Official Development Assistance

Inclusion as Official Development Assistance Yes.
Financial Instrument/ Delivery Mechanism Used (e.g. grant, loan) Grants.
Nature of Recipient Country Involvement Developing countries are members of the GEF council, which is the main governing body of the GEF. In addition, each GEF member country has a GEF Focal point — designated government officials responsible for GEF activities and ensuring they are country driven and based on national priorities.

A project must be endorsed by the country or countries where it will be implemented to be considered to receive GEF funding.