UNDP and the Global Environment Facility: Partnership for Sustainable Development

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Women prepare fish using a solar-powered oven as part of a project funded by GEF's Small Grants Programme. Photo: UNDP Mauritania.

Delegates from 183 countries, intergovernmental organizations and civil society organizations are meeting this week in Mexico to participate in the Fifth Assembly of the Global Environment Facility (GEF).  The GEF Assembly, the governing body of the GEF partnership, is a landmark event for the GEF, occurring every four years. 

UNDP is one of the founding implementing agencies of the GEF, a partnership of governments, implementing agencies and civil society that has provided over US $12.5 billion in grants for 3,690 projects in 165 countries to address global environmental challenges.  Through its Small Grants Programme (SGP) implemented by UNDP, the GEF has also made more than 16,000 small grants directly to civil society and community-based organizations, totaling US $653.2 million.  UNDP has helped over 120 countries in the last four years alone to access more than US $1.9 billion from GEF-managed funds and associated cost sharing to address environmental challenges for sustainable development. 

UNDP believes that the GEF is a critical instrument for financing sustainable development in developing countries.  UNDP’s delegation to the GEF Assembly will be advocating our belief that environmental sustainability is critical to poverty eradication, enhanced resilience and inclusive and sustainable growth. This is reflected in the areas of work set out in UNDP’s new Strategic Plan, which is fully aligned with the GEF’s four-year programming strategies document for 2014-2018.

As the global community navigates discussions for a Post-2015 Framework, this Assembly has reconfirmed that business as usual is no longer an option, and that we need to move from silos to synergies in addressing the interlinked challenges of environment and development.  The next four years will build on the GEF’s unique advantage as a multi-convention and multi-trust fund instrument that allows countries to benefit from integrated approaches spanning multiple conventions and combining different global funding sources.  No other international public financing mechanism can currently provide these benefits.

As an instrument to achieve multiple benefits for development and the environment, the GEF can play an important role in achieving transformational change for sustainable development by tackling the underlying drivers of environmental degradation, delivering integrated solutions at scale, seeking multiple environmental and development benefits.  It will also channel increased support to Least Developed Countries and the Small Island Developing States.

UNDP Administrator Helen Clark has communicated to the GEF our highest commitment to the partnership, and we look forward to the next four years of working together for the global environment and sustainable development.