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BRIEFAugust 11, 2023

World Bank Group and the Global Environment Facility

The WBG and the GEF

Since its founding more than 30 years ago, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) has played a pivotal role in addressing the world's most pressing environmental needs. Co-founded by the World Bank, the United Nations Environment Programme, and the United Nations Development Programme, the GEF has supported developing countries' efforts to take an integrated approach to sustainable development.

Through this collaboration, the World Bank has supported transformative investments and financing approaches for renewable energy, energy efficiency, sustainable transport, biodiversity conservation, waste management, sustainable land management, and the blue economy. With external financing through GEF, the World Bank can offer blended and flexible financing options, often serving as the initial funding that facilitates larger projects and attracts additional private investment. In this way, it has played a key role in de-risking investments, piloting innovative solutions, and mobilizing private capital for climate and nature. 

In addition to creating new opportunities for clean, resilient, and low-carbon growth, GEF financing brings added benefits such as job creation and improved livelihoods. The Bank's productive partnership with the GEF has helped reduce economic pressures and enhance resilience for the world's most vulnerable people and landscapes. 

Key Programs

With support initiated in GEF-6, the GEF's impact and integrated programming is fostering transformational shifts in key economic systems and helping to scale up investments for global environmental benefits. As an Integrated Program lead agency, the Bank has been able to broaden its engagement on nature, leveraging key partnerships, enhancing country policy dialogue, engaging economic and financial decision makers and helping mobilize additional finance. 


The World Bank Group is proud to have been a founding member of the GEF. Since the GEF's inception, the World Bank Group has implemented 836 projects in 146 countries, supported by US$5.8 billion in GEF funding. This funding has catalyzed additional investment of US$42.4 billion from other sources (a 1:8 ratio) and remains instrumental in helping countries better manage their natural resources and enable cleaner and greener economic growth. 

Our GEF investments have had transformational impacts for people and the planet, with GEF grants having supported: 

  • first-of-a-kind investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency, sustainable transport, such as providing the foundation for China's renewable energy transformation; 
  • new financing mechanisms for biodiversity conservation and sustainable land management, including leveraging of more than US$1 billion under the Sahel and West Africa Program to strengthen food security and climate resilience across 12 countries, as well as boost the livelihoods and resilience of more than 19 million people; and 
  • pioneering IFC's use of blended finance, blending GEF grants with commercial funds to create private markets with strong development impact. 


GEF funds are also bringing innovation to operations, mobilizing private capital for biodiversity and climate solutions. For example, the Wildlife Conservation Bond is a first-of-its-kind, outcome-based, financial instrument that channels investments to achieve conservation outcomes - measured in this case by an increase in black rhino populations. If successful, as measured by independent calculations of the rhino growth rate, investors receive a success payment at maturity, paid by the IBRD with funds provided by a performance-based grant from the GEF, in addition to principal redemption of the bond. 

This represents a new approach in conservation financing that passes project risks to capital market investors and allows donors to pay for conservation outcomes. Conservation investment payments from the bond allow South Africa to build on established and successful rhino conservation efforts. 

World Bank Events at the GEF 7th Assembly

WBG at the GEF Assembly 2023