The GEF's mission is the protection of the global environment. The Global Environment Facility forges international cooperation and finances actions to address six critical threats to the global environment: biodiversity loss, climate change, degradation of international waters, ozone depletion, land degradation, and persistent organic pollutants (POPs).
The underlying rationale for support of all GEF projects is that some global environmental benefit is at stake, and the project seeks to address the threat(s) or need(s) to ensure that the global environmental benefit is conserved, or sustainably used and managed. GEF funds are not substitutes for regular or traditional sources of development funding. GEF financing will always be additional to the funds required for national development, and are solely for the purpose of obtaining global environmental benefits.
The GEF is a financial mechanism structured as a trust fund that operates in collaboration and partnership with the three implementing agencies (UNDP, UNEP, and the World Bank). Today the GEF is the largest funder of projects to improve the global environment. Since 1991, GEF has achieved a strong track record with developing countries and countries with economies in transition, providing $8.6 billion in grants and leveraging $36.1 billion in co-financing for over 2,400 projects in more than 165 countries. GEF funds are contributed by donor countries. In 2002, 32 donor countries pledged $3 billion to fund operations through 2006. At the Fourth GEF Assembly in 2006, an additional $3.13 billion was committed.
Funded by the GEF as a corporate programme, SGP is implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on behalf of the GEF partnership, and is executed by the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS). UNDP, the development arm of the United Nations, was designated by the GEF as one of its three Implementing Agencies. Specifically, the UNDP-GEF supports the development of projects in the environmental focal areas of biodiversity, climate change, international waters, and ozone depletion. The new focal areas of persistent organic pollutants and land degradation were approved at the GEF Assembly meetings held from 16-18 October 2002. On behalf of the GEF partnership, UNDP GEF also manages two corporate programmes, the Small Grants Programme, and the Country Dialogue Workshops.