GEF Focal Area Strategies (FAS) Evaluation

The Evaluation of GEF Focal Area Strategies, requested by the GEF Council during its May 2011 meeting (GEF/ME/C.40/01), was carried out from February 2012 to November 2012. Findings and recommendations were presented to the GEF Council at its November 2012 meeting.

The evaluation aimed to collect and assess information relating to the focal area strategies in order to gain a deeper understanding of the elements and mechanisms that make the respective strategy successful or provide room for enhancement. The evaluation assessed to what extent the focal area strategies identify effective causal pathways between GEF support and global environmental benefits. The ultimate goal of the evaluation was to inform the development and improvement of the strategies in the future. The evaluation aims to make a central contribution to the Fifth Overall Performance Study of the GEF (OPS5).


In 2007, a year into the GEF-4 replenishment period, the prior operational programs were replaced by focal area strategies to guide GEF provision of grants. The focal area strategies are aimed at formulating long term strategic objectives to guide the activities under each focal area. They establish strategic programs with explicitly stated expected outcomes.

The GEF-5 focal area strategies were approved by Council in May 2010 and went into effect with the beginning of the replenishment period on July 1, 2010. The GEF strategies include:

  1. Biodiversity
  2. Climate Change Mitigation
  3. Land Degradation,
  4. International Waters,
  5. Chemicals,
  6. Sustainable Forest Management/REDD+,
  7. Capacity Development
  8. Strategy on Climate Change Adaptation for LDCF/SCCF.


The Evaluation of GEF Focal Area Strategies evaluated seven of these strategies (with exception of the Strategy for Capacity Development, which was analyzed in the context of the recent NCSA evaluation). The objective of the Evaluation of GEF Focal Area Strategies was to develop a deeper understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the focal areas strategies based on current scientific knowledge as well as evaluative evidence from GEF activities in order to provide the GEF Council with information and recommendations supporting the further development and improvement of the strategies during the GEF-6 replenishment process.

The evaluation proceeded in four steps:

  1. Review the relationship with convention guidance: To what extent and in what way do the objectives formulated in the focal area strategies relate to respective convention guidance and/or other pertinent sources of guidance?
  2. Construct the theories of change: What is the internal logic behind each of the focal area strategies? What are the identified causal pathways envisioned to lead to the achievement of the strategy's objectives?
  3. Assess the strategies' causal pathways: What are the strengths and weaknesses of the causal pathways identified in the strategies in light of:
    • the current state of scientific knowledge; and
    • evaluative evidence and experiences from GEF projects? (analysis of evidence from GEF projects will be conducted as part of OPS5)
  4. Make recommendations for future strategies: Based on the findings of steps 1-3, what recommendations for the further development and improvement of the focal area strategies can be provided?