Global Environment Facility

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) was established in 1991 and serves, like the GCF, as operating entity of the financial mechanism of the UNFCCC. It is the longest standing dedicated public climate change fund and unites 184 member governments as well as civil society, international organisations and the private sector. In terms of mitigation and enabling activities, GEF has so far supported more than 5.000 projects and programs with more than USD 21.5 billion in grants and an additional USD 117 billion in co-financing. With its Small Grants Programme, it has supported more than 25,000 civil society and community initiatives in 135 countries. Since 1999, GEF has so far supported 59 sustainable urban transport projects (GEF 2021; Global Environment Facility (GEF) – Climate Funds Update).

What types of financing instruments can be acquired?

Grants, concessional loans, equity, guarantees (public, private, blended)

What kind of projects are funded?

The GEF ‘s primary focus is on mitigation activities in the production and consumption of energy as it is the single largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Focal areas of GEF mitigation projects are:

  • Energy efficiency: Introduction of standards for consumer appliances and equipment, such as lighting, air conditioners and motors, and stronger building codes
  • Renewable energy: Commercialising and scaling technologies like solar, wind, small hydro, biopower and geothermal energy
  • Policy: Introduction of feed-in tariffs, reverse auctions and other market-based mechanisms and financial instruments to speed up investments in clean energy.

What size of projects?

  • Full-sized Project (FSP): > 2.000.000 USD
  • Medium-sized Project (MSP): < or = 2.000.000 USD
  • Enabling Activity (EA): project for the preparation of a plan, strategy, or report to fulfil commitments under a Convention.
  • Program: longer-term and strategic arrangement of individual yet interlinked projects with expected large-scale impacts on the global environment
  • Small Grants Programme: < 50.000 USD (directly made to community-based organizations and NGOs)

For each type of project, a different template has to be completed.

Find more details here:

What types of countries are eligible for funding?

Developing countries, transitional economies, if they

  • Ratified the conventions the GEF serves and conforms with the eligibility criteria decided by the Conference of the Parties of each convention.
  • Are already eligible to receive World Bank (IBRD/IDA) financing or UNDP technical assistance through its target for resource assignments.

Access to the Fund is not stated as being restricted to ODA eligible countries.

Find the detailed eligibility criteria here: Funding | Global Environment Facility (

For the Small Grants Programme (SGP), eligibility requirements can be found here.

Who can apply for funding?

Only Partner Agencies from GEF can directly access funding from GEF. However, for some enabling activities like completing Biennial Update Reports and National Communications, countries can access funding directly.

  • Government agencies
  • Civil society organisations
  • Private sector companies
  • Research institutions

Who implements the project?

  • Currently 18 Partner Agencies from GEF (including UN agencies, multilateral development banks, international financial institutions and NGOs)
  • Decision over best suited Agency to develop and implement the project/program is made by the Operational Focal Point.

Project criteria

  • National priority: The project must be driven by the country and be consistent with national priorities that support sustainable development.
  • GEF priorities: The project has to address one or more GEF focal areas (e.g. biodiversity, international waters, land degradation, chemicals and waste, and climate change).
  • Financing: The project must seek GEF financing only for the agreed incremental costs on measures to achieve global environmental benefits.
  • Participation: The project must involve the public in project design and implementation, following the Policy on Public Involvement in GEF-Financed Projects and the respective guidelines.

Application process and project preparation

The Project and Program Cycle | Global Environment Facility ( sets out the rules governing the cycles for GEF-financed Projects and Programs and provides more detailed information on different proposal submittal and approval process for each modality.

Examples for approved transport projects

Find more transport projects in the project database.

Guiding documents

Find more guidelines and policies here: Policies and Guidelines | Global Environment Facility (


Find project templates and others here: GEF-7 Templates | Global Environment Facility (

Sources and more details:

Photo by frappo on Unsplash.

Ronja Kwasniok

10 Principles for Sustainable Urban Transport