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2021 Conference of the ECPR Standing Group on Politics and Gender

Authority and Control Within Environmental Funding Mechanisms: A Case Study of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the Funding of Biodiversity Conservation

Environmental Policy
World Bank
International relations
Sarah Perumalla
Jacobs University Bremen
Sarah Perumalla
Jacobs University Bremen

The paper deals with authority and control in multilateral financing mechanisms in determining the goals and objectives of financing collective environmental action. Using the Global Environment Facility (GEF) as a qualitative case study, the paper hopes to shed light on the actors, issues and dynamics involved in designing and operationalising the programs, policies and projects involved in financing biodiversity conservation by applying an integrative neo-institutionalist framework combining historical, rational choice and sociological institutionalism.

Within the global environmental governance system in place today, financing mechanisms i.e. development banks and other financial IOs play a pivotal role in providing the necessary financial support needed for state and non-state actors to meet their environmental obligations. The GEF is the largest source of such funding available to developing countries for global environmental initiatives. Established in 1991, it is the only multi-convention funding mechanism to date, serving several multilateral environmental agreements including the Convention on Biological Diversity and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The organisation is academically understudied. Yet the GEF is quite unique. As a non-implementing agency, it operates within international environmental law and interacts with conferences of parties, intergovernmental organisations, nation states and civil society actors alike for decision-making and project execution. Given this myriad of actors, the question arises as to how biodiversity conservation funding is designed and who determines the biodiversity funding agenda and to what extent.

The paper process traces the policy formation, implementation and evaluation process in biodiversity conservation funding. The paper shows how an analytically ecclectic approach through the combined analysis of path dependencies, strategic interaction and institutional isomorphism can paint a much richer picture of the GEF to comprehend the wielding of power and influence to gain authority and control in environmental funding mechanisms.
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