The Global Environment Facility (GEF) was established 30 years ago on the eve of the Rio Earth Summit to tackle our planet’s most pressing environmental problems. Since then, it has provided more than $21.5 billion in grants and mobilized an additional $117 billion in co-financing for more than 5,000 projects and programs. The GEF is the largest multilateral trust fund focused on enabling developing countries to invest in nature and supports the implementation of major international environmental conventions including on biodiversity, climate change, chemicals, and desertification. It brings together 184 member governments in addition to civil society, international organizations, and private sector partners.
Recognizing the centrality of cities as key economic systems and drivers of environmental degradation, the GEF launched the Sustainable Cities Integrated Approach Pilot in 2017. In the first phase (GEF-6), the program supported 28 cities in 11 countries and a global platform to adopt integrated urban planning approaches and pilot urban sustainability solutions. The GEF-7 Sustainable Cities Impact Program, under its brand name UrbanShift, builds on the networks and experience from the pilot phase and supports an additional 23 new cities in nine countries to advance the integrated approach of urban planning, build the systemic capacity of urban actors and facilitate large scale investment in innovative sustainability solutions. Building on well-established partnerships involving GEF agencies, City-based Organizations, and technical entities, the program aims to foster collaboration between cities, national governments, financial institutions, private sector and civil society to promote low carbon, nature-positive, pollution-free, resilient pathways for urban transformation.
UrbanShift is the brand name of the Global Environment Facility's Sustainable Cities Impact Program. It builds on the lessons and experiences of the Sustainable Cities Integrated Approach Pilot, facilitated through the Global Platform for Sustainable Cities.
This event marked the official launch of UrbanShift and took place virtually during Climate Week NYC 2021.
The Rwanda Urban Development Project II is one of nine UrbanShift local interventions, and focuses on climate resilient infrastructure, service delivery and ecosystem rehabilitation in Kigali and additional cities.
One of nine GEF-funded country interventions, the UrbanShift China project aims to integrate biodiversity conservation, nature-based solutions and carbon neutrality into the development pathway of three participating cities.
UrbanShift's local intervention in Costa Rica aims to decarbonize the San José region through sustainable integrated urban planning, supporting efforts to formulate legal reforms, promote sustainable mobility infrastructure and restore green spaces.
UrbanShift will engage mayors, the private sector, UN agencies, multilateral development banks and other partners to support national and city governments. It will also serve as a knowledge & learning platform to connect cities with global expertise.