Projects are funded that support or promote the conservation and sustainable use and management of biodiversity in ecosystems (including agrobiodiversity and agroecological systems)

The operational programs are restricted to in situ conservation activities and the conservation of the genetic variability of wild relatives of domesticated species.

Projects should be located in areas that contain globally significant biodiversity.
    • Is the ecosystem or constituent species threatened or at risk?

      Is it a "hot spot" (areas under threat that have exceptional concentrations of species unique to the area)?

      Is there a significant presence of endemic species?

      Is the site rich in species?

      Does it contain habitats that are important to migratory species?

      Does it fall under international treaties, laws, agreements or conventions, such as the Convention on International Trade in End.

  • Projects are implemented according following GEF Operational Programmes.
    • OP1- OP1 - Arid and Semi-Arid Ecosystems

      OP2- Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biological Diversity Important to Agriculture

      OP3- Costal, Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems

      OP4- Forest Ecosystems

      OP5- Mountain Ecosystems

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    Climate Change

    GEF projects in climate change help developing countries and economies in transition to contribute to the overall objective of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

    Climate change could have devastating effects on the well-being of people already living on the edge of poverty - with limited financial and technical capacity, yet dependent on climate sensitive sectors for their life and livelihoods, communities must rely on their own ability to adapt and survive in constantly changing conditions.

    Projects are implemented according following GEF Operational Programmes
    • OP11-Promoting Environmentally Sustainable Transport

      OP5 -Removal of Barriers to Energy Efficiency and Energy Conservation

      OP6 -Promoting the Adoption of Renewable Energy by Removing Barriers and Reducing Implmentation Cost

  • International Waters

    As one of the initial focal areas of GEF, international waters projects help countries to deal with concerns in all types of transboundary water systems, ranging from river basins, lake basins, and groundwater systems, to coasts and large marine ecosystems, where most fisheries exist, to the open ocean. The GEF plays a catalytic role in helping nations making full use of policy, legal, and institutional reforms and investments necessary to address these complex concerns about transboundary water resources. SGP as a corporate programme of the GEF, implemented by UNDP on behalf of all GEF Implementing Agencies and executed by UNOPS, has funded projects involving communities proximate to threatened waterbodies and transboundary threats to their ecosystems.

    The GEF collaborates closely with environmental conventions and agreements. Regional and international waters agreements influence GEF initiatives to protect international waters. Although GEF’s international waters focal area does not serve as a financial mechanism for a specific convention, it is associated with many global and regional conventions that are involved with transboundary water systems, mostly at a regional level. GEF interventions are often associated with adopting regional conventions as a show of the government’s commitment to sustainability after the GEF project ends. Coordination among countries is of much greater importance in this GEF focal area than in others.

    The following factors make IW different from other GEF focal areas:
    • No single convention like all other Focal Areas

      Large majority of projects are multi-country

      Partnerships are key element to success of IW projects

      Many have components in other focal areas (focal areas of Biodiversity, Land Degradation, and some POPs)

  • Because SGP grants are small and are not made to government bodies, SGP’s engagement in the international waters focal area has not involved the participating in SAPs or other arrangements with multiple governments so far. Instead, its international waters projects tend to involve the demonstration of techniques on a small scale to reduce water pollution in a particular transboundary waterbody (such as new methods to reduce pesticide use among farmers) or awareness raising among community members about the impacts of waste on a waterbody, often accompanied by community activities to clean up waste and improve its management (such as the development of a recycling program). Most projects have involved communities in only one country, although some have promoted coordination with other NGOs and CBOs in other countries bordering a waterbody. With a few exceptions, for the most part, past SGP international waters projects have not been formally integrated with SAPs or on-going large or medium-sized GEF projects.

    SGP will fund international waters projects under four general circumstances:
    • In the context of a collaboration with an on-going large or medium-sized GEF project;

      Guided by the priorities and institutional structures laid out in TDAs and SAPs produced by completed GEF projects;

      In collaboration with well-established multi-country regional agreements with specific plans of action, to which GEF projects may or may not have contributed;

      In situations where TDAs, SAPs or other agreements have not been developed, but a primary threat to a transboundary waterbody have been clearly substantiated through other means. When such a threat arises from activities in two or more countries, SGP could fund projects that bring together NGOs and/or CBOs from those countries to address them. When the threat can be shown to stem from activities within a single country, SGP could fund projects involving NGOs or CBOs within that country.

      When any of these circumstances do apply, SGP country programmes would seek to identify and fund a coherent set of projects to address threats to the identified transboundary system. If none of these conditions apply within a particular SGP country, then SGP will not fund international waters projects in that country.

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    Land Degradation

    Global environmental problems as defined by the GEF are the loss of biological diversity, climate change and pollution of international waters. Land Degradation, primarily deforestation and desertification, was eligible for funding during the first decade of GEF if related to the above-mentioned three GEF Focal Areas.

    In October 2002, the GEF Assembly approved land degradation as a new focal area taking into account the objectives of the Convention to Combat Desertification (CCD). By mid 2002, SGP's grant portfolio included over 400 projects (out of 3,200) related to land degradation for an approximate value of $8 million.

    Initiatives include:
    • Conservation and restoration of arid and semi-arid areas

      Efficient stoves and biogas to reduce forest loss

      Integrated watershed management

      Soil conservation


      Prevention of forest fires

  • Organic farming among others. A number of projects address policy and other barriers to mitigating land degradation (e.g. land tenure, access to natural resources).

    Projects are implemented according following GEF Operational Programmes
    • OP15- Operational Program on Sustainable Land Management

  • Organic Pollutants

    POPs - Persistent Organic Pollutants

    POPs are highly stable compounds that circulate globally through a repeated process of evaporation and deposit, and are transported through the atmosphere and the oceans to regions far away from their original source. They accumulate in the tissue of living organisms, which absorb POPs through food, water, and air. The effects of POPs exposure include birth defects, cancers, and dysfunctional immune and reproductive systems. POPs are also a threat to biodiversity, and even have the potential to cause disruption at the ecosystem level.

    SGP and POPs

    The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) named the GEF as the interim financial mechanism after it was adopted in May 2001. With the convention going into force, the GEF Assembly approved the addition of POPs as a new focal area in October 2002. SGP as a corporate programme of the GEF, implemented by UNDP on behalf of all GEF Implementing Agencies and executed by UNOPS, has since then started to support projects on POPs around the world at an increasing rate.

    GEF-SGP funds solely Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) and Community Based Organizations (CBOs) in line with the important recognition given in the Stockholm Convention to NGOs as being effective in reducing and eliminating POPs.

    The SGP Strategy on Reducing and Eliminating POPs, guides Country Programmes and multi-country Strategic Projects on the development and implementation of projects to serve more communities, and have a larger global environmental impact. National Implementation Plans for the Stockholm Convention (NIPs) will form the basis for future country-level GEF support on POPs. Therefore, based on the convention GEF-SGP country priorities emerge from the NIPs. Since NIPs are going to be the framework for a country to develop and implement, in a systematic and participatory way, priority policy, and regulatory reform, capacity building, and investment programs GEF SGP Country Programmes, their partners and grantees (especially women and children health groups) try to become part of the discussions, development, and implementation surrounding the NIPs.