Global Environment Facility (GEF) Previous Next Page 2(7)


Host Governments

Each country receiving GEF assistance ("host government") has designated government officials responsible for GEF activities: a political focal point who acts as a liaison with the GEF Council and Assembly and an operational focal point who oversees project related matters. GEF project proposals must be formally endorsed by the operational focal point to ensure that they are country-driven and complement national programs and policies. Project proponents should identify and work with these individuals and their agencies as early as possible in the project development. Contact information for the governmental focal points can be obtained at:


Implementing Agencies (IAs)

IAs oversee project development and preparation, shepherd a proposal through the GEF project cycle, implement projects through the executing agencies (those who execute the projects in the field), and monitor and evaluate projects during their lifetime. In establishing the GEF, the nations involved chose to tap the comparative advantages of three experienced institutions to implement its projects, rather than construct a new one. The three main IAs are The World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). IAs have, in effect, been assigned an "area of responsibility," they focus primarily on projects within their competence. For example, The World Bank specializes in investment projects, UNDP in building human and institutional capacity and UNEP in targeted research, enabling activities and multi-country initiatives. IAs have full-time, professional staff in their headquarters in charge of handling GEF projects and most have professional staff within their country-level and regional offices who are charged with assisting GEF projects. The IAs follow the guidance of, and are accountable to, the GEF Council. In short, for project proponents, good-working relationships with IAs is an indispensable condition for a successfully funded GEF project.


Executing Agencies

Executing Agencies (EAs) are responsible for the day-to-day implementation of individual projects. They can be government bodies, other UN agencies, NGOs, universities, etc. The executing agency is responsible to and works closely with the IA that oversees the project. The EA usually provides an individual "task manager" to manage a project.


"Expanded Executing Agencies"

In May 1999, the GEF expanded opportunities for four Regional Development Banks (the African Development Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the Inter-American Development Bank) to become "Expanded Executing Agencies" - essentially sharing project implementation tasks with the IAs. The degree to which an IA delegates implementation tasks such as assistance with project document preparation, management of GEF funds, and project reporting depends on the executing agency and the particular project. Ultimately however, the IAs remain fully accountable to GEF for project implementation. In May 2000, the GEF Council approved the same expansion of opportunities for the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). In May 2001 the same expansion was agreed upon for the International Fund for Agriculture and Development (IFAD). The expanded executing agencies also have streamlined access to project preparation resources (PDF-B).


Project Proponents

The entity submitting an initial project concept - and often helping to progress it through the project preparation stage - is known as the project proponent. This same entity may or may not be responsible for executing the funded project in the field. Governments and NGOs are the most common proponents; others can be national institutions, local communities, academic institutions, UN agencies and private sector.


Non-Governmental Organizations

As informed and effective advocates, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have had a role in shaping the GEF and its agenda from the very beginning. Village organizations and other community-based groups, academic institutions, and foundations are among the NGO partners integral to GEF's efforts.

More than 150 GEF-financed projects are executed by, or contain contracts with, NGOs. Until now, GEF's Small Grants Program, administered by UNDP, has provided grants of up to US$50,000 to finance more than 1200 NGO-executed projects.


Types of GEF Grants


Full-size projects

These are grants for longer-term projects requiring more than US$1 million in GEF funding. They are mainly provided to governments and regional/international organizations as Executing Agencies, although NGOs and other non-governmental entities are eligible as Executing Agencies if the operational focal point endorses the project. Full-size projects typically take between 18 to 24 months to develop and receive Council approval. Project proponents must therefore be prepared to invest substantial time and effort in laying the groundwork necessary to secure Council approval for their project. The implementation period for full-size projects usually runs from 3-6 years. Currently, 71% of the GEF biodiversity portfolio is made up of full-size projects and 29% of medium-size projects. While both the World Bank and UNDP have a larger amount of projects in the full-size category (72% for the World Bank and 76% for UNDP), UNEP has a larger number of projects in the medium-size category (67%).

Case Studies

Cote d'Ivoire and Burkina Faso: West African Pilot Community Based Natural Resources and Wildlife Management Project

China: Wetland Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Use

Central America: Establishment of a Program for the Consolidation of the Meso-American Biological Corridor

Implementing agency

World Bank



Executing organization

Ministere de l'Environnement et du Cadre de Vie

State Forestry Administration

Central American Commission for Environment and Development (CCAD)

Total budget

US$13.19 million

US$35 million

US$23.54 million

GEF contribution

US$7 million

US$12.026 million

US$10.94 million

Project duration

5 years plus 2-year extension

5 years

6 years

Start date




Project objectives

This project aims to conserve one of West Africa's most diverse and threatened ecosystems, the Como, by involving local communities in the sustainable and profitable use of wild resources, and assisting them to manage their wildland areas for their own economic benefit and for the benefit of biodiversity.

This project proposed to remove barriers at four representative but different wetland sites with high global biodiversity importance (Sanjiang Plain, Ruoergai Marshes, Yancheng Coast and Dongting Lakes). GEF support will be closely allied with new government programs that conserve biodiversity, ensure locally sustainable development, and relieve future flooding events.

The goal of this project is to enhance the conservation of biodiversity in Central America and southern Mexico by establishing a Program for the Consolidation of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor (MBC). The MBC will consist of a network of protected areas and their buffer zones linked by biological corridors with a variety of uses and degrees of protection. This will allow the governments and societies of Mesoamerican countries to jointly establish the MBC as a system integrating conservation and sustainable uses of biodiversity within the framework of economic development priorities over the medium to long term.



Medium-Sized Projects (MSPs)

These are grants up to US$1 million that are intended to meet government / NGO demand for fast and flexible funding. MSPs usually take between 12 to 18 months to develop and receive approval, but can often take longer. MSPs are particularly useful for supporting NGO-led projects, and for funding demonstration initiatives or pilot projects. Medium-sized projects should not fund project preparation activities (see below); "enabling activities" (see below) which already are subject to expedited approval procedures; or extensions of existing projects. MSPs also should not fund a series of smaller, related and/or complementary projects instead of one larger project. Full and medium-sized projects must target the proximate and/or root causes of biodiversity loss.

Sample Medium-size Projects

Nepal: Arun Valley Sustainable Resource Use and Management Pilot Demonstration Project

Seychelles: Management of Avian Ecosystems

Costa Rica: Conservation of Biodiversity in the Talamanca-Caribbean Biological Corridor

Implementing agency


World Bank


Executing organization

Rural Reconstruction Nepal (RRN)

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Asociacin Corredor Biolgico Talamanca Caribe (CBTC Association)

Total budget

US$0.8 million

US$1 million


GEF contribution


US$0.75 million


Project duration

3 years

3 years

3 years

Start date




Project objectives

The primary objective of this project is to organize and analyze the traditional knowledge of local communities and apply it to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in one of the world's most unique mountain ecosystems. The project area, in the eastern part of the Arun River Watershed (connecting Tibet to India), embodies a remarkably high level of biodiversity but has increasingly come under the direct threat of anthropogenic activities and pressure.

This project financed the definition and initial implementation of action plans for upland forest, coastal wetlands, and coastal plateau forest habitats. This was done by designing action plans for seven threatened endemic bird taxa; creating socio-economic models for island restoration; completing an assessment of potential islands for translocation of bird populations; restoring one island, including eradicating exotic species and implementing a habitat management plan for that island; and, promoting public awareness and education campaigns.

The objective of this project is the conservation and sustainable use of the globally significant biodiversity of the Talamanca Caribbean Biological Corridor by protecting and managing the ecologically significant forest, marine and freshwater ecosystems present in the corridor through development of a co-management model with local communities.


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