Established in 1991, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) unites over 180 countries - in partnership with international institutions, civil society organizations, and the private sector - in an effort to address global environmental issues. The largest provider of funds for environmental initiatives, the GEF extends grants to developing countries and countries with economies in transition for projects related to biodiversity, climate change, chemicals and waste, international waters, land degradation, and ozone-layer depletion.
UNIDO’s cooperation with the GEF dates back to the 1990s when the Organization acted as an Executing Agency of GEF projects implemented by the original GEF Agencies - the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Bank - and related to climate change, chemicals, and international waters. In 2000, the GEF Council granted UNIDO direct access to its resources for the preparation and implementation of projects related to persistent organic pollutants (POPs). As a result, UNIDO developed a strong project portfolio covering a wide range of activities, including national implementation plans, assessment capacity-building, and best available technologies/best environmental practices programmes to reduce or eliminate POPs emissions and wastes.
In 2006, the GEF Council acknowledged UNIDO’s comparative advantage in its capability to link issues related to energy efficiency, renewable energy, chemicals, international waters and sustainable development within the context of industrial activities, and granted the Organization direct access to GEF Trust Fund resources for projects related to climate change, biodiversity, international waters, and ozone-layer depletion. This decision provided UNIDO with a unique opportunity to enhance the synergies and impact of its GEF project portfolio.
UNIDO will continue its efforts in tackling the underlying drivers of environmental degradation and in helping countries to safeguard their environment, while delivering on the Organization’s core mandate of inclusive and sustainable industrial development.
Natural resource depletion, environmental degradation, climate change, biodiversity loss, international waters pollution and ozone layer depletion continue to threaten the global environment. At the same time, poverty eradication, spreading the benefits of globalization and making it work for the poor, and managing the transition to a sustainable, low-carbon path of development, while achieving universal access to energy, remain challenges that need to be addressed if progress is to be made as part of the post-2015 agenda.