OPS4 Progress Toward Impact

April 2010
Document status:
Document type:
Executive Version
Evaluation type:
Overall Performance Study (OPS)
IEO grouping:
Full Report:
Related Brief:

Fourth Overall Performance Study of the GEF(OPS4)

Every four years, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) is replenished by its donors. Each replenishment process has been informed by independent overall performance studies of the GEF. These studies have developed into authoritative reviews of the state of the art and of available knowledge on the functioning and results of the GEF.

The Fourth Overall Performance Study (OPS4) was, for the first time in the study series’ history, undertaken by a GEF entity itself: the GEF Evaluation Office. This authorship stems from the recognition that the Office — which became independent in 2004 and from that point reported directly to the GEF Council — could provide a perspective independent from that of the Secretariat, the GEF Agencies, GEF donors and recipients, and other GEF partners and stakeholders.

Another first for the study series is that OPS4 tackles the issue of the impact of completed GEF projects. It is clear that the GEF cannot, on its own, bring about solutions to the major global environmental problems of our time. The amount of funding is simply not enough, and these solutions have to be accomplished by the governments and local communities of recipient countries and through actions in the developed world. However, evaluative evidence shows that most of the GEF’s finished projects have achieved satisfactory progress toward impact. When the follow¬ up is in place that ensures the up¬ scaling of these achievements, longer term effects and impacts can be realized.


Conclusions and Recommendations

  Conclusion Recommendation
The GEF in a Changing World Global environmental trends continue to spiral downward

The GEF has been underfunded since GEF-2, given the scope of its agenda, the guidance of the conventions, and its mode of operation.

The GEF’s link to international environmental agreements as a financial mechanism is an added value in tackling global environmental problems.

The GEF’s mode of operation through three levels of action — foundation, demonstration, and investment — brings an added value to its catalytic role.

GEF support is relevant to national environmental and sustainable development priorities as well as to international and regional processes.

Funding levels for global environmental issues need to rise substantially in order to tackle increasingly urgent problems.

The GEF-5 replenishment needs to offer a substantial increase over GEF-4, or the GEF will need to reduce support dramatically to focal areas, groups of countries, or modalities.

The GEF and the conventions need to interact to improve and focus guidance. Guidance should be prioritized at the national level.

The catalytic role of the GEF can be strengthened by increasing its funding level and by incorporating catalytic lessons in improved guidance and monitoring.

The GEF should further develop programming at the national level by supporting the creation of GEF national committees and GEF national business plans.

Progress Toward Impact Seventy percent of finished projects show moderate to solid progress toward impact. Progress toward impact in GEF-supported outcomes shows the value of a portfolio approach at the national level, which enables recipient countries to fully support and maximize progress toward global environmental benefits.
Issues Affecting Results GEF projects achieve 80 percent moderately satisfactory and higher outcomes as compared to the benchmark norm of 75 percent, yet inefficiencies continue in the preapproval phase.

The Small Grants Programme continues to be an effective tool for the GEF in achieving global environmental benefits while addressing the livelihood needs of local populations, with special attention to reaching the poor.

Learning in the GEF is still not structurally and systematically encouraged.

Monitoring, tracking tools, and impact indicators are not yet fully integrated into a results-based management framework for the GEF.

Resources are managed relatively well in the GEF, but improvements are possible.

GEF project performance should be further strengthened through improved guidelines, a better fee structure, and strengthening of social and gender issues.

The Small Grants Programme should be recognized as a GEF modality that should be available to all recipient countries.

Learning in the GEF should focus on cross-agency and crosscountry learning and be consolidated in a corporate strategy.

The GEF should integrate impact indicators and measurements in a results-based framework for GEF-5.

Improvements in resource management should focus on developing a new system for reserving funds for project ideas and reforming fiduciary standards and the fee system.

Governance and Partnership The governance model of the GEF compares well to that of other international organizations.

Tensions in the GEF partnership arise from programming and project identification issues; these in turn mostly stem from a lack of communication but are also due in part to fundamental questions on the appropriate roles of the GEF partners.

Governance can be further improved by ensuring a more substantive role for the Assembly, by addressing constituency problems, and by implementing a longer term process to achieve a better division between governance and management in the Council.

The Council should address tensions within the GEF partnership and provide guidance on roles and responsibilities.


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