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UN Environment and the Global Environment Facility: A natural partnership for our planet

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Climate change, desertification, species loss, deforestation, floods and famine – these are the very real shared challenges we are facing as a planet in the 21st century, challenges that cannot be ignored.

For over 40 years, UN Environment has been the world’s leading environmental advocate, delivering scientific insight, setting the global agenda on the environment, offering solutions and providing leadership on critical environmental issues.

Our mission requires working closely with all stakeholders, from governments, the private sector and investors to civil society, scientists and individuals. But one particular partner that stands out is the Global Environment Facility (GEF). In a collaboration that spans more than 25 years, UN Environment and the GEF have developed a strong alliance, building on our synergies to deliver urgently needed action and long-lasting change.

As a founding partner of the GEF, with the UN Development Programme and the World Bank, UN Environment has a close and enduring relationship with the Facility. Just some of the strengths underpinning the UN Environment- GEF partnership include:

  • UN Environment hosts and administers many Multilateral Environmental Agreements, a number of which have designated the GEF as their financial mechanism

  • UN Environment is the world’s leading environmental authority, setting international standards for policy and providing direction to international initiatives based on scientific knowledge. The GEF is the single largest source of funding for action on global environmental concerns

  • UN Environment hosts the GEF Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel, which works with leading experts and practitioners around the world to provide vital know-how and advice to the broader GEF partnership

These linkages underpin a natural partnership. Together UN Environment and the GEF have financed and implemented a wide range of landmark environmental projects – projects that have set new standards, demonstrated new methodologies and transformed the environment and people’s lives.

The UN Environment-GEF partnership

The partnership between UN Environment and the GEF goes back to 1991, on the eve of the first Rio Summit, when UN Environment, together with the UN Development Programme and the World Bank, created the GEF as a threeyear pilot facility. A quarter-century later, the GEF is a mature and well-established financial mechanism for five Multilateral Environmental Agreements, providing a key source of funding for projects implemented by 18 GEF agency partners.

Since its formation, the GEF has entrusted over $1.8 billion to UN Environment to implement more than 900 projects across all the Facility’s focal areas – biodiversity, chemicals and waste, climate change adaptation and mitigation, international waters, and land degradation – and in capacity development.