GEF Council approves new funding for biodiversity projects


The Global Environment Facility’s governing body has approved new funding for biodiversity projects and planning, including targeted support to help 26 countries prepare for new global biodiversity goals.

Meeting on the eve of the COP15 biodiversity summit, representatives of the GEF’s member governments approved $65 million for the first work program of its eighth funding cycle. Nearly half of this total was earmarked for biodiversity projects, including more than $18 million supporting the development of biodiversity finance plans in 26 countries.

The Umbrella Program to Support Development of Biodiversity Finance Plans will enable countries to quickly implement the post-2020 global biodiversity framework that is expected to be approved at COP15 in Montreal. It includes help for developing baseline analytics and strengthening institutions in countries that have not yet benefited from the UNDP Biodiversity Finance Initiative (BIOFIN). Each country will develop a national biodiversity finance plan and contribute to global knowledge sharing between countries and partner organizations.

The eight-project work program represents 1 percent of the record GEF-8 replenishment, and is expected to be followed by much larger work programs at subsequent Council meetings.

Although modest in size, the projects address priorities including improving agroforestry practices in Brazil, addressing the mercury trade in Latin America, and easing pressures on marine ecosystems in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. In total, 37 countries are set to benefit from the projects, including nine Least Developed Countries and 12 Small Island Developing States.

The GEF Council, which meets twice annually, reviews the operational policies and programs of the multilateral fund and the activities it finances around the world. It includes 32 members representing constituencies of member countries – 14 from developed countries, 16 from developing countries, and two from economies in transition. The GEF Assembly, composed of all 184 member countries, meets approximately every four years at the ministerial level.