Global Environment Facility (GEF)


The Global Environment Facility (GEF) was created in 1991 in preparation for the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit (1992). Its mission was to mobilise the financial means necessary to deal with the major environmental problems on a global scale. Subsequent to a pilot phase until mid-1994, the GEF was able to start financing programmes following the conclusion of negotiations that led to the adoption of the GEF Instrument in Geneva in March 1994. Initially, 73 states were members of this fund. Today, they number 183.

Like the Green Climate Fund, the GEF is one of the two financial mechanisms whose mission is to provide global financing to combat climate change. While the GCF’s mandate includes adaptation to, and mitigation of climate change, the GEF focuses solely on climate change mitigation.

However, its mandate is bigger than just combatting climate change. This fund also aims to finance the protection/conservation of biodiversity, the fight against desertification, management of (toxic) waste and chemical products, forests and international waters. It therefore serves as a financial mechanism for the three Rio Conventions (UNFCCC, CBD, and UNCCD) as well as the Minamata Convention on Mercury and the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.

The GEF also administers the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) and the Special Climate Changes Fund (SCCF).

The GEF has its Secretariat at the World Bank headquarters in Washington, D.C., which is the Trustee of the GEF. It has a budget approved every four years following a negotiation process called "replenishment". Since its creation, this is the 7th time that the GEF budget has been replenished, hence the reference to GEF-7 which covers the period running from the beginning of July 2018 to the end of June 2022. This budget amounts to 4.068 billion USD for four years. In general, Belgium contributes 15 million per year to the GEF budget.

See below a summary of the amounts of the 5th, 6th and 7th allocated to each priority theme:

Therefore, the GEF is not a multilateral organisation that implements environmental programmes itself. The GEF has 18 implementing agencies for this purpose, of which the four principal organisations are the World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

In order to discuss its major political, strategic, budgetary and administrative orientations, the GEF has a governing board of 32 members who meet every six months (mid-December and mid-June each year). 

See below a diagram outlining the links between the different GEF authorities: 

More information on the GEF available at