The Global Environmental Facility: Another Failed, Corrupt International Boondoggle

A new paper by the NCPA examines the U.N.’s Global Environmental Facility.  The United States has donated $1.24 billion to the GEF. Over the past five years, U.S. contributions have increased 61 percent.  The GEF was established to fund international projects to preserve biodiversity, prevent global warming, protect international waters, stop land degradation, save the ozone layer and remove persistent organic pollutants in less developed countries.

However, as with so many well-meaning, international efforts as the study details, the GEF is rife with corruption, sends most of its funding to wealthier, fast growing countries that could fund their own environmental efforts rather than the poorest countries that could really use the help, has little accountability, and appears immune to reform.

Concerning corruption, The GEF has been scandal-ridden. For instance:]

  • In 2007, the GEF was caught in procurement fraud in Africa worth $8 million; but when an official reported it, the United Nations retaliated against the whistleblower.
  • In the Philippines, the GEF was reportedly operated by an official who awarded grants to her own local nongovernment organization (NGO); then, diverted funds to enrich her family. When a U.N. employee blew the whistle, the United Nations covered it up.
  • The U.N. Development Program, which oversees the GEF, was investigated for illicitly giving funds to North Korea, and for their inability to account for $100 million designated for sustainable development projects.

The GEF has proven adept at one thing, transferring money from some rich countries to other rich countries – while leaving those countries most in need of environmental help begging for scraps.  The U.S. should not continue to throw good money after bad. This is not a program in need of reform – rather it needs to be scrapped entirely.

Comments (13)

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  1. DW says:

    This seems to be the case with most foreign aid. It almost has a cost of doing business to it. In which case you almost have to be prepared to lose a certain percentage on your investment.

  2. Connor says:

    It’s unfortunate that these developed nations are a source for funds that could be used elsewhere.

  3. Lucas says:

    “The GEF has proven adept at one thing, transferring money from some rich countries to other rich countries – while leaving those countries most in need of environmental help begging for scraps.”

    I can not believe the UN still is operating this way

    • DW says:

      The UN is inherently good, but it is ran by people from all over the world. Ways of doing things are different, environment has taken one of the biggest hits due to lack of funding. The environment also can not be approached with a one size fits all mindset.

  4. CRS says:

    The UN needs to the way of the league of Nations – withdraw and shut it down. The if necessary, start over again with totally different people involved!
    From Wikipedia:
    After a number of notable successes and some early failures in the 1920s, the League ultimately proved incapable of preventing aggression by the Axis powers in the 1930s. Germany withdrew from the League, as did Japan, Italy, Spain and others. The onset of World War II showed that the League had failed its primary purpose, which was to prevent any future world war. The League lasted for 27 years. The United Nations (UN) replaced it after the end of the war and inherited a number of agencies and organizations founded by the League.

    • David says:

      The smaller organizations that compose the UN do produce significant research. I think the problem lies within how the funding reaches it destination, and the decisions for what gets funded.

  5. David says:

    “The Facility lacks strong anticorruption mechanisms. These include, for example, setting high standards, independent audit functions, financial disclosure and codes of ethics,obtaining clean annual external financial audits, and implementing procurement based on best practices.”

    So just basic business practices

  6. Jay says:

    “Over the past five years, U.S. contributions have increased 61 percent.”

    Yet we make massive cuts to NASA funding?

    How about not relying on the Russians to get into space, and putting those dollars to work here in the States- or rather in rocket fuel…

  7. PJ says:

    Wait, our money is being wasted on a corrupt UN program? No…

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