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The effectiveness of climate finance: a review of the Global Environment Facility

Research report

Written by Smita Nakhooda

Research report

​The Global Environment Facility (GEF) is the longest standing multilateral climate change fund, and since 1994 it has been an operating entity of the financial mechanism of the UNFCCC. It is replenished every four years, and is now in its fifth cycle with more than US$ 1 billion for climate change projects. The GEF has grappled with many of the questions that confront the international community as it confronts the question of how to design and operate effective international climate funds. It is one of the only funds to have adopted an objective (though controversial) criteria based approach to distributing climate finance. It has also placed a significant and growing emphasis on understanding the results of its work, making substantial investments in systems to measure the GHG emission reductions that result from its portfolio. It has focused on supporting enabling environments that will promote low carbon activities in developing countries. It has also sought to support technology transfer and innovation – albeit with mixed results. It is therefore timely to take stock of its evolving priorities and areas of focus. This working paper is one of a series of ODI studies of the effectiveness of international climate funds using a common analytical framework.
Smita Nakhooda with Maya Forstater