News | 29 Jun, 2023

IUCN to implement USD 88.6 million of GEF’s new work program

At its ongoing meeting in Brasilia, Brazil, the GEF’s (Global Environment Facility) governing body has approved a record USD 1.4 billion work program, including a portfolio of conservation projects totalling USD 88.6 million which will be managed by IUCN.

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Photo: Eric Ecker

“I thank the GEF Council for their support and ambition. This vital funding builds on IUCN’s long-standing partnership with the GEF, and will be key to our joint efforts to help governments achieve the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework. IUCN, with the power of our Union’s 1,400 Member organisations and 15,000 Commission experts, stands ready to translate these ambitious goals into action with wide-reaching benefits for people and nature,” said Dr Grethel Aguilar, IUCN Deputy Director General.

Since becoming an accredited GEF Implementing Agency in 2014, IUCN’s portfolio of active and committed GEF projects has grown to 55 projects, with USD 245 million of GEF funding. These projects are implemented throughout the regions, countries and offices where IUCN works and cover themes including biodiversity conservation, sustainable forest and land management, restoration, international waters, climate adaptation and conservation led by Indigenous peoples and local communities. This week’s decision will allow IUCN to support its membership through 13 additional projects in 11 countries, and includes the following initiatives:


The Indo-Malaya Critical Forest Biome Integrated Program

The Indo-Malaya region includes 63 million hectares of primary forest – an area greater than the size of Kenya. These forests are home to more than 5,000 threatened species, store millions of tons of carbon, provide millions of livelihoods, and support communities including Indigenous peoples. Indo-Malaya forests are also severely threatened. Just 40% of original forest cover remains, and this remaining forest faces threats including agricultural expansion (principally palm oil plantations), unsustainable logging and infrastructure development.

The new GEF8 Indo-Malaya Critical Forest Biome Integrated Program will provide direct support to Lao PDR, Papua New Guinea and Thailand to conserve eight critical intact forest landscapes. In addition, a dedicated regional coordination project led by IUCN in partnership with the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) will leverage the IUCN-led Asia Protected Area Partnership and the FAO-hosted Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission to support transformative change and sustainable conservation outcomes.


The Mesoamerica Critical Forest Biome Integrated Program

Stretching from Central Mexico to the eastern Panamanian frontier, the forests of Mesoamerica are vital and irreplaceable. Wildlife that reside here include the jaguar, tapir, howler monkey, quetzal and scarlet macaw, and these forests are essential wintering grounds for numerous migratory birds. They also hold half of the region’s carbon stocks and provide water and other essential services to millions of people. Nearly half of these areas are managed by Indigenous and local communities. Mesoamerican forests are also among the world’s most threatened; of the remaining large intact primary forests some 1.4 million hectares were lost between 2000 and 2020, representing a 23% reduction in area.

The new GEF8 Mesoamerica Critical Forest Biome Integrated Program will provide direct support to six Mesoamerican countries to address key drivers of deforestation and degradation including agriculture expansion, logging, fire, infrastructure development and wildlife trafficking. Supported interventions will include expanding and improving the management of protected areas, helping enact enabling policies at regional and national levels, mobilising investment to promote conservation and sustainable use, and raising awareness of the important contributions these forests make. IUCN will lead the regional coordination and support platform, and assist the Governments of Guatemala, Mexico, Honduras and El Salvador in implementing contributing projects.


Scaling-up Nature-based Solutions across the Globe

This approved work program will enable IUCN to increase the implementation of Nature-based Solutions around the world to generate global environmental and societal benefits. The program includes: support to the Governments of Guinée, Democratic Republic of Congo and Sao-Tomé to increase the effectiveness of their protected area systems for conserving intact forests, as part of the GEF8 Critical Forest Biome Integrated Program; support to the Governments of Palau and Federal States of Micronesia to conserve and protect marine and coastal areas; and support to the Governments of Tchad and Mauritania to restore critical degraded wetlands and land.