GEF in practise'
Raising and Spending Money
GEF funds promised to be ‘additional’ to other aid flows,
but would pay only the ‘incremental costs’ of achieving ‘global’
environmental benefits through actions taken under the Conventions.
Essentially, the GEF pays only for the extra costs of development
projects that protect international waters, atmospheric ozone,
biodiversity and the climate system: environments deemed to
be of ‘global’ value.
In the ten years since it was created, the GEF has channeled
$4.1 billion from mostly North American, Western European
and Japanese treasuries to over a thousand projects in over
150 Southern and former communist countries. To put its work
in context however, GEF funds constitute less than 1 percent
of total international aid flows to the South, and offer the
equivalent of one day’s global spending on military ‘defence’
for each year of protecting the global environment. Even so,
the Washington DC-based GEF currently has about three times
as much money to spend each year as UNEP – based faraway from
donor treasuries in Nairobi, Kenya. GEF’s well-funded arrival
on the international scene therefore led one UN official to
liken GEF to ‘a new wife for the donor governments, favoured
over old, tired UN bodies’. The initial, ‘pilot’ phase of
GEF funding ran from 1991-4; it was promised $1.6 billion.
Major donors to the pilot phase were the French and German
governments with nearly $150 million each;the US and Japan
contributed similar amounts indirectly through co-financing
(see Chapter three). A small group of Southern governments
also paid up to $6 million each at the start their
fee to join a new conservation club and share
in the $733 million actually spent on GEF projects run by
the World Bank, UNDP and UNEP.