The Global Environment Facility (GEF) brings together 173 member governments and works together with the private sector, NGOs and international organizations to confront complex global environmental issues whilst, at the same time, supporting national sustainable development initiatives. By the end of 2002 GEF has supported over 1,000 projects in more than 140 countries. The GEF is primarily concerned with 'global benefits', i.e. benefits that go beyond individual national interests and which need to be considered at a global or inter-national level.
Focal Areas & Operational Programmes
The GEF provides a mechanism for international cooperation and finances activities to address the threats to the global environment in the following focal areas:
- climate change
- international waters
- ozone layer depletion
- land degradation
- persistent organic pollutants
Within these focal areas are 12 operational programmes, some of which are pertinent to SFM - such as forest ecosystems, mountain ecosystems and integrated ecosystem management.
The GEF governance structure is comprised of an Assembly, a Council, and a Secretariat. The Facility has three Implementing Agencies (IAs) that are responsible for developing projects for GEF funding and implementing them through Executing Agencies in specific countries and regions. The three IAs are:
- United Nations Development Programme
- United Nations Environment Programme
- World Bank
Each country participating in the GEF has a political focal point - often the Ministry of Finance or Ministry of Planning, which serve as the contact point with the GEF Secretariat.
In addition, each recipient country has a GEF operational focal point - often the Ministry or Department of Environment. The role of the operational focal point is to identify project ideas that meet country priorities and ensure that GEF proposals are consistent with country priorities and commitments under the global environmental conventions. The operational focal points must endorse all project proposals for GEF in their countries.
GEF projects are executed in the field by a wide variety of organisations, ranging from government agencies, international organizations, private sector institutions, and international, national, and local non-government and civil society organisations.