GEF Support to Innovation: Findings and Lessons

Since the creation of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) as a pilot program in 1991, there has been an expectation that the GEF would be an innovative institution and will use innovation to maximize its impact on global environmental benefits. More recently, the GEF2020 Strategy and GEF-7 Programming Directions called for the GEF to continue to be an innovator while actively seeking to effect transformational change. At the same time, the Sixth Comprehensive Evaluation of the GEF (OPS6, 2018) concluded that to maximize its impact, GEF should take higher risks rather than prioritizing proven successful approaches.

The objective of this evaluation is to assess GEF's efforts in promoting innovation, the outcomes and sustainability of innovative interventions, the factors that have influenced innovation in the GEF, and to identify lessons for the next replenishment phase of the GEF. A framework for evaluating innovation will be developed drawing on the existing literature. The evaluation will identify major innovations at the strategic and portfolio levels and will use the mixed-method and multi-case design approach to determine the lessons and implications for the future policy, strategy, and management decisions to further enhance innovations in the GEF.

The report contains the following recommendations and issues for the future:

  1. Monitor the risk, identify an acceptable tolerance level and communicate it to the Agencies.
  2. Explore and partner with innovation support programs that may mobilize larger sources of risk capital.
  3. The GEF must require monitoring, midterm reviews, evaluation, and knowledge sharing in all innovative projects.