The Global Environment Facility
The First Ten Years – Growing Pains or Inherent Flaws?

a report by environmental defence and halifax initiative - August 2002

Restructuring the GEF – 1994

Northern countries strenuously objected to the “one country, one vote” system of governance, favouring instead the Bretton Woods system of “one dollar, one vote” in which they dominate. In addition, they refused to remove the World Bank from its central role in the GEF or to elect a chair at each Council as these measures put their control over the GEF at risk.

In the end, a compromise was reached that restructured the GEF along its present lines. Since G7-led donor governments were holding the purse strings for the GEF replenishment, the compromise solution agreed in 1994 continues to ensure donors’ control.

Governance and Operational Arrangements

The restructured GEF dropped its Pilot Phase requirement of a minimum financial contribution to the GEF as a pre-requisite for GEF membership. This opened the way for universal membership in the GEF, which now counts 173 countries. Representatives of the member countries, known as Participants, meet every three years as the GEF Participants’Assembly, a body with the limited mandate to review general GEF operations and no real power.

GEF decision-making and policy development rests with the GEF Council, which meets twice a year in Washington. The Council is composed of 32 constituencies representing all the Participants.