Fonds - Records of the Global Environment Facility

Identity area

Reference code



Records of the Global Environment Facility


  • 1988 - 2007 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

265.00 linear feet of textual records (approximate)

Context area

Name of creator

Biographical history

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) began operations in 1991 as a three-year pilot project sponsored by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the World Bank. The first meeting of the three agencies took place in December 1990. The Executive Directors of the World Bank adopted Resolution No. 91-5 on March 14, 1991, thereby legally establishing the Global Environment Trust Fund (GET), with initial funding of $1 billion, which was pledged by industrialized and developing countries. The first Participants meeting took place in May of 1991. A Tripartite Agreement signed by the three cosponsoring agencies on October 28, 1991, formalized the governance and operational mechanisms of the GEF.

The purpose of the GEF is to assist in the protection of the global environment and to promote environmental sustainable development. Specifically, it provide[s] new and additional grants and concessional funding to cover the 'incremental' or additional costs associated with transforming a development project with national benefits into one with global environmental benefits (GEF website, June 18, 2012). Countries can obtain GEF funds if they are eligible to borrow from the World Bank or receive technical assistance grants from UNDP. Investments initially took place in four areas of global interest, or focal areas: international waters; biodiversity; climate change, and, under the terms outlined in the Montreal Protocol (MP), the layer of stratospheric ozone. Later, the areas of land degradation and persistent organic pollutants would be added.

Initially, the World Bank undertook the Chairmanship of the GEF; the director of the Bank's Environment Department (ENV) served as Chair. A GEF Administrator's Unit (ENVGE) was created in 1991 in the Environment Department as was the Global Environment Unit (ENVGC) which would coordinate GEF-related projects implemented by the Bank and conduct other related activities. The Bank's initial activities included: serving as Trustee and administrator of the GEF; encouraging inclusion of GEF investment areas in national environment programs of recipient countries; managing the project cycle for investment projects; and organizing GEF project identification, appraisal, and supervision processes with other agencies.

At the conclusion of its pilot phase in 1994, the GEF was restructured and moved out of the World Bank system to become a permanent, separate institution. As part of this restructuring, the involvement of developing countries in the decision-making process and implementation of projects was enhanced and greater transparency was achieved. At this time, the GEF became the financial mechanism for both the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. In partnership with the Montreal Protocol of the Vienna Convention on Ozone Layer Depleting Substances, the GEF also started funding projects that enabled countries to phase out their use of ozone-destroying chemicals. Later, the GEF was selected to serve as the financial mechanism for two more international conventions: the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants in 2001 and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in 2003.

The governance structure of the GEF includes: an Assembly of all participating countries which meets every three to four years and is responsible for reviewing and evaluating the GEF's general policies, the operation of the GEF, and its membership; a Council, which acts as the main governing body of the GEF and is responsible for developing, adopting, and evaluating the operational policies and programs for GEF activities; and a Secretariat, which services and reports to the governing Council and the Assembly and is functionally independent but is supported administratively by the World Bank. Among the Secretariat's major functions are:

  • implementing the decisions of the GEF Assembly and Council;

  • coordinating the formulation and overseeing the implementation of program activities pursuant to the joint work program;

  • ensuring the implementation of the operational policies adopted by the council through the preparation of common guidelines on the project cycle in consultation with implementing agencies; and

  • reviewing and reporting to the council on the adequacy of work programs made by the implementing agencies in accordance with the guidelines referred to above.

Its business activities include: external/corporate relations; policy development; operations and business strategy; monitoring and evaluation; GEF Council and Assembly activities; annual reporting; communications and outreach; and administration.

As of 2012, the GEF involves 182 participating countries and various international institutions, civil society organizations, and the private sector. In addition to the World Bank, UNDP, and UNEP, GEF has seven other implementing agencies responsible for creating project proposals and for managing GEF projects. The World Bank continues to serve as the GEF Trustee; as such, it mobilizes resources for the GEF Trust Fund and manages the Fund. It also seeks to mobilize resources from the private sector that are consistent with GEF objectives and national sustainable development strategies. The UNDP is responsible for technical assistance activities and capacity building and helps to identify projects and activities consistent with the purpose of the GEF and national sustainable development strategies. It is also charged with running the Small Grants Programme for non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The UNEP is responsible for catalyzing the development of scientific and technical analysis and advancing environmental management in GEF-financed activities. It also manages the Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel (STAP), an independent advisory body that provides scientific and technical guidance to the GEF.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Records were transferred directly from the GEF Secretariat to the Archives using approved records retention and disposition schedules.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

The fonds consists of records that relate to the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Secretariat's various activities. The majority of the fonds consists of GEF project files. Project types include the Small Grants Programme, Enabling Activities, medium-sized projects (MSP), and full-sized projects (FSPs). These records reflect GEF project cycle activities. Records include: reports; correspondence; forms; concept agreements; focal area work program documents; CEO endorsement; evaluation and review documents;terminal report; and other documents generated by the project cycle from concept development stage to its closure.

Records related to GEF's role in operational monitoring and assessment of GEF projects are included. The responsibility is shared between GEF and the implementing agencies. GEF's activities include: overall project evaluation; operational programs evaluation; evaluation of GEF practices and activities; and thematic reviews and assessments. GEF's Monitoring and Evaluation unit (GEFME) also contributes to the formation of Global and Regional Agreements and organizes and participates in workshops and other knowledge sharing activities. Records included here are generally unpublished materials including drafts, working papers, statistical information and other records related to the work of GEFME.

The fonds also consists of policy, procedures, and standards development and business strategy records. Records generally consist of correspondence, reports, research, ad hoc studies on various topics, and other records pertaining to the development and implementation of GEF policies, procedures, and standards.

Also included are records related to GEF's Focal Area programs. These records relate to: program operations; program strategy; program indicators and methodologies; capacity development initiatives; cross-team support; taskforce meetings; conventions; seminars; training; and the Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel (STAP). Records include: correspondence; reports; policy papers; reports to management; publications; and other materials.

This fonds also consists of corporate affairs and liaison records. Included is correspondence and reports that document GEF's relationship with client communities and stake holders, including: implementing agencies; executing agencies; STAP; donor countries; the private sector; and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Also included are records related to GEF's participation in the various conventions of which it acts as the financial mechanism. Records include: copies of agreements and contracts; terms and conditions; memoranda of understanding; annual and financial reports; and records related to replenishment. Included in this fonds are records created during meetings of GEF Council, GEF Assembly and other standing and ad hoc groups of GEF, including: Participants meeting; various taskforces and working groups; special donor meetings; and project review meetings. Records include: minutes; agendas; reports; Terms of Reference; supporting or background documentation; summaries of proceedings; member lists; intercessional decision reports; and speeches and statements made by GEF representatives. Audio and video recordings of some of the meetings are included in the fonds.

Records related to communications and outreach are also included. The majority of these records are a collection of magazine, journal, and newspaper articles that refer to the GEF. Issues of GEF's newsletter, Talking Points, are included, as are records related to GEF representatives' participation in seminars, meetings, and other events.

Also included are the chronological correspondence files of the GEF CEO, deputy CEO, and Secretariat from between 1992 and 2004. Communications to Council from the CEO and Secretariat from 1993 to 1997 are also included.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


Accruals are expected.

System of arrangement

The following arrangement is provisional. Records are arranged into eight series:

  • Project files

  • Monitoring and evaluation records

  • Policy development and business strategy records

  • Focal Area program records

  • Corporateaffairs, liaison, and convention records

  • Meetings

  • Communications and outreach

  • Senior management correspondence

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Records are subject to the World Bank Policy on Access to Information.

Conditions governing reproduction

Records are subject to the Copyright Policy of the World Bank Group.

Language of material

  • English
  • French

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

A finding aid for this fonds does not exist.

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

  • See Records of the Environment Sector (WB IBRD/IDA ENV) for records of the Environment Department's GEF-related divisions: Global Environment Unit (ENVGC) and GEF Administrator's Unit (ENVGE).

  • See Records of the Operations Evaluation Department -- Records of the Director-General, Operations Evaluation (DGO) -- Director-General Robert Picciotto's Files on the Independent Evaluation of the Pilot Phase of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) (WB IBRD/IDA OPE-13-12), for records related to the Operation Evaluation Department's independent evaluation of the pilot phase of the GEF.

  • See Records of Individual Staff Members -- Moeen Qureshi files (WB IBRD/IDA STAFF-26) for records related to the genesis of the GEF.

*See records related to the Resource Mobilization (WB IBRD/IDA CFOP)

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Rules and/or conventions used

Internal World Bank Group Archives rules based on ISAD(G).

Disclosure status

Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion

22 June 2012




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