Latin America and the Caribbean, home to some of the world’s most pristine and diverse ecosystems, depend heavily on natural resources to generate economic growth.

The challenge for this region is to reconcile the demands of growth with the need to protect and manage its habitats and resources in order to achieve sustainable development, while facing global environmental threats such as climate change.

The IDB helps member countries address these challenges by financing activities to improve the management of protected areas, generate income opportunities for communities that depend on ecosystem services, manage coastal and marine resources, and support climate change and disaster risk management initiatives in critical watersheds.

We also ensure that every project we finance includes rigorous social and environmental safeguards and sustainability measures.

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Sustainability at the IDB means promoting economic growth and poverty reduction that ensure lasting environmental, social and economic benefits. By putting sustainability at the heart of its operations, the Bank aims to help countries in Latin America and the Caribbean maintain and enhance their natural and social capital for development.

The Bank recognizes that ecosystems are critical to economic growth and poverty reduction and that the inclusion of traditionally disadvantaged groups, such as indigenous peoples, women, or persons with disabilities, is fundamental to meaningful development.

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Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management
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Climate change poses a fundamental threat to economic and social development around the globe. The IDB is helping member countries achieve sustainable, low-carbon economic growth by financing innovative solutions in areas such as renewable energy, transportation, forestry and urban development. The Bank also promotes adaptation measures in vulnerable sectors such as agriculture and water supply. This work is closely related to its growing portfolio of disaster risk management projects across the region.

Natural resources and cultural heritage
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Protected areas, national parks and marine reserves comprise some of the most valuable natural assets of Latin American and Caribbean countries. The IDB finances a wide range of programs to enhance the long-term value of these assets. Many of these programs seek to protect the cultural heritage of communities that live in or near protected areas through sustainable tourism ventures that generate economic opportunities and benefit indigenous populations and women who depend directly on the quality and availability of natural resources.

Global Environment Facility (GEF)

What is the GEF?

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) is constituted by a partnership of 182 countries with international institutions, civil society organizations (CSOs), and the private sector to address global environmental issues while supporting national sustainable development initiatives. Currently, the GEF is the largest public funder of projects to improve the global environment. As an independent financial organization, the GEF provides grants for projects related to biodiversity, climate change, international waters, land degradation, the ozone layer, and persistent organic pollutants.

Since 1991, GEF has provided $12.5 billion in grants and leveraged $58 billion in co-financing for over 3,690 projects in over 165 developing countries and countries with economies in transition. Through its Small Grants Programme (SGP), the GEF has also made more than 20,000 small grants directly to civil society and community based organizations, totaling $1 billion.

In 2010 the GEF started its fifth phase (GEF-5) with a record-breaking replenishment of its Trust Fund of $4.25 billion, representing a 34% increase compared to the previous phase. The Latin American and Caribbean region received approximately $650 million of these new funds, mainly for projects under the Climate Change, Biodiversity, Land Degradation and Multifocal focal areas. This increased GEF-5, provided greater opportunities for the IDB to engage with its member countries in their quest towards sustainable growth and poverty alleviation.

The GEF is also the designated financial mechanism for a number of multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) or conventions; as such the GEF assists countries in meeting their obligations under the conventions that they have signed and ratified. These conventions and MEAs provide guidance to the two governing bodies of the GEF: the GEF Council and the GEF Assembly.

Main Conventions:

IDB as a GEF partner

The Inter-American Development Bank joined the GEF in May 2004 as an Executing Agency, with direct access to GEF resources.

As one of the 10 GEF Agencies, the IDB plays a key role in managing GEF projects on the ground; more specifically in assisting eligible governments and NGOs in the development, implementation, and management of GEF projects.

IDB’s comparative advantage for the GEF includes investment projects at the country and regional level in Latin America and the Caribbean. IDB finances operations related to the following GEF focal areas: Biodiversity (protected areas, marine resources, forestry biotechnology), Climate Change (including biofuels), International Waters (watershed management), Land Degradation (erosion control), and POPs (pest management)

The Division of Environment, Rural Development and Disaster Risk Management at the Infrastructure and Environment Sector (INE/RND) of the IDB, has devoted efforts to introduce the Bank as a GEF Executing Agency in national-level dialogues and actively engage with national GEF focal points in identifying opportunities for IDB-GEF operations. Furthermore, an effort has been made to increase the familiarity of the Bank’s management and operational personnel to the GEF, and to assist project teams across sectors, both in country offices and in headquarters in preparing GEF operations. As a result, there has been a significant increase in the number of IDB-GEF project presented to the GEF Secretariat and in the participation of beneficiary countries across the region.

IDB-GEF operations take into account these IDB internal policies as applicable:

IDB’s Environment and Safeguards Compliance Policy

IDB’s Integrated Strategy for Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation and Sustainable and Renewable Energy

IDB’s Indigenous Peoples Policy (GN-2386-8)

GEF Focal Areas

The GEF funds projects related to the following Focal Areas, each with its own strategy based on guidance provided by the Conferences for which the GEF acts as a financial mechanism.


The goal of the biodiversity focal area is the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and the maintenance of ecosystem goods and services. To achieve this goal, the biodiversity strategy encompasses five objectives:

  • Improve the sustainability of protected area systems;
  • mainstream biodiversity conservation and sustainable use into production landscapes/seascapes and sectors;
  • Build capacity to implement the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety;
  • Build capacity on access to genetic resources and benefit-sharing; and
  • Integrate Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) obligations into national planning processes through enabling activities.

Complete information is found in the GEF  BD Strategy



Climate Change Mitigation

GEF’s overall goal in climate change mitigation is to support developing countries and economies in transition toward a low-carbon development path. The climate change mitigation strategy for GEF-5 consists of six objectives:

  • Promote the demonstration, deployment, and transfer of innovative low-carbon technologies;
  • Promote market transformation for energy efficiency in industry and the building sector;
  • Promote investment in renewable energy technologies;
  • Promote energy efficient, low-carbon transport and urban systems;
  • Promote conservation and enhancement of carbon stocks through sustainable management of land use, land-use change, and forestry; and
  • Support enabling activities and capacity building.

Complete information is found in the GEF CC Mitigation Strategy

Climate Change Adaptation

GEF’s goal in climate change adaptation is to support developing countries to increase resilience to climate change through both immediate and longer term adaptation measures in development policies, plans, programs, projects and actions. The GEF manages two separate adaptation-focused Funds under the UNFCCC — the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) and the Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF), which mobilize funding specifically earmarked for activities related to adaptation, and the latter also to technology transfer.

The GEF CC Adaptation Strategy consists of 3 objectives:

  • Reduce vulnerability to the adverse impacts of climate change, including variability, at local, national, regional and global level;
  • Increase adaptive capacity to respond to the impacts of climate change, including variability, at local, national, regional and global level; and
  • Promote transfer and adoption of adaptation technology.

 Complete information is found in the GEF CC Adaptation Strategy 



The goal of the International Waters focal area is the promotion of collective management for transboundary water systems and subsequent implementation of the full range of policy, legal, and institutional reforms and investments contributing to sustainable use and maintenance of ecosystem services.

To achieve this goal, the Strategy for GEF-5 identifies the following objectives:

  • Catalyze multi-state cooperation to balance conflicting water uses in transboundary surface and groundwater basins while considering climatic variability and change;
  • Catalyze multi-state cooperation to rebuild marine fisheries and reduce pollution of coasts and large marine ecosystems (LMEs) while considering climatic variability and change;
  • Support foundational capacity building, portfolio learning, and targeted research needs for ecosystem-based, joint management of transboundary water systems; and
  • Promote effective management of Marine Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ).

 Complete information is found in the GEF IW Strategy



The overall goal of the Land Degradation focal area strategy is to contribute in arresting and reversing current global trends in land degradation, specifically desertification and deforestation. The strategy embodies the landscape approach and ecosystem management principle to maximize integration with other GEF focal areas on Biodiversity, Climate Change, and International Waters.

The following four objectives form the basis of a results-oriented framework that will guide implementation of the strategy:

  • Maintain or improve a sustainable flow of agro-ecosystem services to sustaining the livelihoods of local communities;
  • Generate sustainable flows of forest ecosystem services in arid, semi-arid, and sub-humid zones, including sustaining livelihoods of forest-dependent people;
  • Reduce pressures on natural resources from competing land uses in the wider landscape; and
  • Increase capacity to apply adaptive management tools in SLM.

Complete information is found in the GEF LD Strategy



The goal of the Chemicals focal area is to promote the sound management of chemicals throughout their life-cycle in ways that lead to the minimization of significant adverse effects on human health and the global environment.

Four objectives are identified for Chemicals under GEF-5:

  • Phase out Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) and reduce POPs releases;
  • Phase out Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS) and reduce ODS releases; and
  • Pilot sound chemicals management and mercury reduction.
  • POPs enabling activities

Complete information is found in the GEF Chemicals Strategy



The goal for GEF-5 investment in SFM is to achieve multiple environmental benefits from improved management of all types of forests.

Two objectives will drive the SFM portfolio and contribute to the goal:

  • Reduce pressures on forest resources and generate sustainable flows of forest ecosystem services; and
  • Strengthen the enabling environment to reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and enhance carbon sinks from Land Use, Land Use Change, and Forestry (LULUCF) activities.

Complete information is found in the GEF SFM Strategy

IDB-GEF Coordination Team


The IDB-GEF Coordination Team is located in IDB’s Division of Environment, Rural Development and Disaster Risk Management at the Infrastructure and Environment Sector (INE/RND).

This team works to ensure the continued flow of GEF resources to the LAC region via a quality project portfolio and the transparent use and accountability of the resources.

 The team’s main responsibilities towards GEF are:

  • Policy support: includes the development, revision and operationalization of GEF policies, strategies, business plans and guidelines. It also includes participation in the meetings of the GEF governing bodies.
  • Portfolio management: includes pipeline and program management, financial management and data management. It includes participation in financial consultations organized by the Trustee. It also comprises preparation of the Annual Monitoring Report (AMR), the Annual Portfolio Review for the Evaluation Office (APR) and the overall management of the portfolio regardless of the number of projects undertaken.
  • Reporting: includes all the reporting requirements
  • Outreach and knowledge sharing: includes participation in sub-regional consultations, country dialogues and STAP meetings.
  • Support to Evaluation Office: includes evaluations, reviews and studies initiated by the GEF Evaluation Office.

IDB-GEF Coordination Team continues to help mobilize new funds to develop a high-quality, diverse portfolio of innovative projects that maximize global environmental benefits. It has also driven IDB as an important GEF partner and executing agency in the Region, contributing to consolidate the Bank’s reputation as a leader in global environmental sustainability. Within the IDB, this team is in charge of the following responsibilities:

  •  Institutional relations and coordination, including IDB’s operational and technical work within IDB’s sectorial divisions through the development of a quality and innovative work program/project portfolio consistent with the Region’s priorities and GEF’s objectives, strategic programs and policies.
  • Portfolio management, including programming and pipeline management, data and financial management.
  • Portfolio monitoring and evaluation management.
Access to GEF Funds

GEF funds finance a broad range of project types, which vary depending on the scale of GEF resources, the project needs and the issue addressed.

 A project proposal has to fulfill the following requisites in order to be eligible for consideration:

 It is undertaken in an eligible country. It is consistent with national priorities and programs.

  • It addresses one or more of the GEF Focal Areas, improving the global environment or advance the prospect of reducing risks to it.
  • It is consistent with the GEF operational strategy.
  • It seeks GEF financing only for the agreed-on incremental costs on measures to achieve global environmental benefits.
  • It involves the public in project design and implementation.
  • It is endorsed by the government(s) of the country/ies in which it will be implemented.


  • Preparatory Steps

Before the project proposal is drafted, the proponent should contact its country’s Operational Focal Point (OFP), who is the designated person responsible for GEF activities. This officer plays a key role in assuring that GEF projects are aligned to meet the needs and priorities of the respective country and is who reviews that the proposal complies with the above requisites, and formally endorses it.

 The proponent should also work closely with the chosen GEF Agency, which assists eligible applicants in the development, implementation and management of GEF projects. GEF Agencies act as a channel between the county and the GEF throughout the whole project’s approval process.

  •  Preparation of a Project Preparation Form (PIF)

The proponent should develop the PIF in coordination with the GEF Agency and following its internal project cycle procedures. Once this document is ready, the Agency will submit this proposal to the GEF Secretariat for approval.


GEF provides grants to various types of projects: Full-Sized projects, Medium-Sized Projects, Programmatic Approaches and Enabling Activities. These are described in the table below: 

Type of GEF project

Grant US$


Full-Sized (FSPs)

Over US $1 million

- Must respond to national priorities and GEF focal area/LDCF/SCCF strategies and objectives.

-Must satisfy eligibility requirements under the Conventions.

- Approved by GEF Council

Medium-Sized (MSPs)

MSPs are limited to a maximum of $1 million in GEF and SCCF funds; and $ 2 million in LDCF funds

- Smaller in scale than FSPs and follow expedited procedures for their approval

- Their approval is delegated by the Council to the CEO

- Following CEO approval, the project document will be approved by the Agency following its own procedures, followed by the start of project implementation

Enabling Activities (EAs)


- The GEF finances Enabling Activities related to the conventions on biodiversity, climate change, and persistent organic pollutants, to help countries prepare national inventories, strategies, action plans, and reports under these conventions

ProgrammaticApproach (PA)


- A program usually contains several projects that are linked through common objective/s of the program aimed to foster increased horizontal and vertical integration of global environmental issues into the country (ies)’ development agenda.


Templates and guidelines for the different types of GEF projects can be found here


  • Argentina
  • Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • El Salvador
  • Guatemala
  • Guyana
  • Haiti
  • Honduras
  • Jamaica
  • Mexico
  • Nicaragua
  • Panama
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Suriname
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Uruguay
  • Venezuela

 - You will find information on:

  •  Council Members and Alternates;
  • Country Focal Points;
  • Country Allocation and Utilization: System of Transparent Allocation of Resources (STAR) for GEF5 (fifth Replenishment);
  • Information and documents per country and
  • Information per Implementing Agency in that country.
IDB-GEF Portfolio

As of May 2014, the current IDB’s portfolio comprises 53 projects that amount to a total of $301 million in GEF grants, with $2 billion in co-financing or related financing from the Bank, bilateral aid, local counterparts, NGOs and private sector. Approximately one fourth of the total co-financing comes from the Bank’s lending and non-lending instruments.

  IDB-GEF portfolio is composed of projects focused on 3 main focal areas:

  • 14 biodiversity (BD)projects deal with issues such as marine and coastal conservation, protected areas, and ecosystem management;
  • 25 climate change (CC)projects deal with issues of energy efficiency, renewable energies and, most recently, carbon markets;
  • 3 international Waters (IW)projects deal with issues such as wastewater management and pollution control;

The remaining 11 projects are Multi-focal (MF) in nature, including issues related to the Land Degradation (LD) focal area and watershed protection, among others. These MF projects amount to $107 million.

Monitoring and Evaluation

Summary of Requirements by Project Type

For Full Sized Projects (FSP):

  • Submit baseline information at CEO endorsement;
  • Start implementation six to eight months after CEO endorsement;
  • Submit PIR annually until project closure for projects that have been under implementation for one year or longer;
  • Submit a midterm review (MTR);
  • Submittracking tools three times during the life of the project: at CEO endorsement, midterm, and project closure; and
  • Submit Terminal Evaluation (TE) to the GEF Evaluation Office immediately after it is completed and no more than 12 months after project completion.

For Medium Sized Projects (MSP):

  • Submit baseline information at CEO approval;
  • Start implementation six to eight months after CEO approval;
  • Submit PIR annually until project closure for projects under implementation for one year or longer;
  • Encouraged to but not required to submit a midterm review or evaluation report (MTR);
  • Submit tracking tools twice during the life of the project; at CEO approval and at project closure;
  • Submit Terminal Evaluation (TE) to the GEF Evaluation Office immediately after it is completed and no more than 12 months after project completion.