Main Issue

The Paris Agreement under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change entered into force in November, 2016. That achievement marks a new era of climate action that will put the world on a path to eliminating carbon from the global economy by the second half of the century.  

Taking action on climate change means adopting and implementing ambitious programs to limit emissions of greenhouse gases to levels compatible with the well-being of the ecosphere, while supporting communities around the world to adapt to the unavoidable impacts of the climatic changes that are already being observed. It also means embracing the potential of the green economy — a more sustainable way of life that balances economic, social, and environmental priorities.                      

We can mitigate climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions in a variety of ways. These include promoting greater energy efficiency and use of renewable energy, as well as building more sustainable urban transport. Since land, forests, and oceans store carbon, we also need to adopt smarter ways to preserve and restore these “carbon sinks.” Adaptation helps people cope with increased risks to their lives and livelihoods from a changing climate. Climate Change is already affecting weather patterns, water resources, crop yields and marine ecosystems. The poor, who are least able to cope, are the hardest hit. Increasingly, policymakers recognize the need to integrate climate-resilient strategies into long-term development programs.

What We Do

The GEF has several key roles to play under the Paris Agreement. The GEF serves as part of the financial mechanism of the Agreement, which also established a process for ensuring that all actions on climate change are fully transparent and a mechanism for helping countries meet that goal. The GEF’s climate change mitigation strategy supports developing countries as they make transformational shifts towards low emission and climate-resilient development pathways with three fundamental objectives:  

  • Promote innovation and technology transfer for sustainable energy breakthroughs 
    Technology is one of the key means to reduce or slow the growth of and stabilize the concentration of greenhouse gas emissions. To that end, technology innovation, especially when promoted in partnership with the private sector, can help create or expand markets for green products and services, generating jobs, and supporting economic growth, while contributing to the reducing GHG emissions. Resources from the GEF play a key role in piloting emerging and innovative solutions, including clean technologies, business models, supportive policies and strategies, and financial tools which foster private sector engagement for climate-friendly technologies and innovations. Four entry points have been prioritized for GEF-7 support in the climate mitigation area, in consideration of their innovative nature and complementary to other financial mechanisms: De-centralized renewable power with energy storage; Electric drive technologies and electric mobility; Accelerating energy efficiency adoption; and Cleantech innovation. 

  • Demonstrate mitigation options with systemic impacts 
    Climate change affects virtually all natural and economic systems. The interaction between climate change and all the areas of the GEF’s work points to the importance of recognizing climate change implications in other focal areas by harnessing mitigation options and integrating climate resilience measures, while promoting multiple global environmental benefits in a holistic and integrated fashion. This will be done via the three GEF-7 cross-cutting Impact Programs: Sustainable Cities; Food Systems, Land and Restoration; and Sustainable Forest Management. 

  • Mainstreaming mitigation concerns into sustainable development strategies 
    The GEF continues to address the need for enabling conditions to mainstream climate change concerns into the national planning and development agenda through sound data, analysis, and policy frameworks. This is exemplified by the GEF support for National Communications, Biennial Update Reports, Technology Needs Assessments, Nationally Determined Contributions and the Capacity-building Initiative for Transparency.


GEF-funded projects have had a tangible impact on climate change: 

  • Reducing the vulnerability of almost 27 million people in more than 130 countries 
  • Supporting nearly 1000 climate change mitigation projects expected to contribute 8.4 billion tonnes of direct and indirect GHG emission reductions over time

The GEF in action: Building resilience in the Andes - In the face of melting glaciers in the tropical Andes of South America, the GEF is helping strengthen the resilience of local ecosystems and economies. The project helped generate tools to assess the effects of glacier retreat and integrate climate change considerations into strategic planning. It also addressed pressing development issues related to water supply or irrigation in Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru.

Looking Ahead

Under GEF-7, the GEF will continue to foster the shift to a low-carbon economy by supporting creative thinking and innovative financing. GEF’s efforts are structured to address the key decisions for the Paris Agreement, and to further support climate action in developing countries. The framework is aligned with GEF’s innovative project designs; proven track record of support for technology transfer; and ability to attract private sector co-financing.  

The establishment and operationalization of the Green Climate Fund has added to the evolving context in which the GEF operates. The GEF-7 Climate Change Focal Area Strategy is complementary to programming by the Green Climate Fund and other climate funds and lays the foundation for enhanced climate action by harnessing synergies across the different focal areas and building on the GEF's record of driving innovation.