Taxpayer Dollars Wasted on the Global Environmental Facility

The GEF is Corrupt, Ineffective, and Structurally Flawed: NCPA Study

The United States has spent $1.24 billion in taxpayer funds over the last twelve years to support the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), a United Nations and World Bank-led effort to benefit the environment. But according to a new report from the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA), the funds have been wasted on an international program that has spent more than a billion dollars while achieving no measurable environmental benefit.

The GEF was set up in 1992 to distribute grants and fund international environmental projects aimed at combating global warming, preserving biodiversity, and stopping land degradation, among other things.

But as far back as 2004, an Office of Management and Budget study concluded that GEF-funded projects were ineffective, poorly managed, and showed no demonstrated results.

"While the GEF has promised reforms for nine years, its own internal audit shows no significant reforms. Less than half of its completed programs show significant progress and 30 percent have demonstrated no impact at all," said NCPA Senior Fellow Sterling Burnett.

Rather than distributing money to the neediest countries, the GEF has merely served as a mechanism to spread funds between wealthy countries while doing little to help the poorest nations.

  • From 2006 to 2009, nearly one-third ($253 million) of $760 million in GEF grants went to three of the largest and most advanced developing economies: China, India, and Brazil.

  • Less than $100 million went to projects in the world's 49 poorest countries.

"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," said Burnett.

The GEF has also been ridden with scandal. The OMB reported that the GEF "lacks strong anti-corruption mechanisms" such as independent audit functions, and the GEF has retaliated against whistleblowers who have sought to expose fraud within the program.

"The GEF has spent two decades providing grants and funding for projects which have not achieved results, all at the expense of U.S. taxpayers," said Brent Pinero, a research associate with the National Center for Policy Analysis. "And despite its ineffectiveness, poor resource allocation, and a lack of strict accounting standards, the GEF continues to be funded."

"The U.S. has wasted more than a billion dollars on yet another ineffective, corruption ridden, U.N. environmental feel-good project. We 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," Burnett concluded.

Source: Brent Pinero, "The Global Environmental Facility: A Dismal Failure," National Center for Policy Analysis, October 2, 2013.

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