Capacity Development

Since its inception, the GEF has supported capacity development at all levels, within regular GEF programs and projects, through specific activities targeted specifically at capacity development and enabling activities. Guidance from the Conventions’ Conference of the Parties, and consistent demand from countries for tangible capacity development actions, has emphasized the importance of developing countries’ capacities, and has called for the GEF to provide targeted funding for country-driven capacity development activities to developing countries.

Cross-Cutting Capacity Development (CCCD) in the GEF context traditionally refers to the targeted support provided to countries to strengthen their capacities to meet their commitments under the Rio Conventions and other Multilateral Environment Agreements. This type of capacity development is focusing on addressing systemic crosscutting national environmental management issues in GEF recipient countries, and it’s complementary to capacity development under individual Focal Area projects.

The CCCD Strategy for GEF-6 is distinct from capacity development at the individual Focal Area level in that it will address those transversal issues that focal area projects alone do not address. Cross-cutting refers to the GEF’s ability to establish synergies between the Rio conventions and other MEAs and the consequent possibility to work across sectors of the economy.

During GEF 6 special emphasis will be placed on these projects bringing together the national and local stakeholders, in particular the Ministries of Finance, Agriculture, Industry, Energy, Planning, Budget, as appropriate, so that the issues referring to the global environment are understood as an essential part of national interest and are incorporated into the regular process of decision making.

The Strategic Approach to Capacity Building

CCCD began in 1999 when the GEF Council approved the Capacity Development Initiative to better understand and recommend comprehensive and strategic approaches to develop countries’ capacities towards meeting the challenges of global environmental action, and sustaining global environmental outcomes.

In order to reconcile these findings and legitimize countries’ request for GEF assistance, the GEF Council approved funding to undertake a self-assessment of the challenges and opportunities to meet Rio Convention obligations and recommend priority capacity building actions to address them in 2001.Countries received US$ 200,000 to carry out their National Capacity Self-Assessments (NCSAs).

Supported by a multiple set of independent analyses and complementary strategies, NCSAs were followed up by the GEF Council’s approval in 2003 of the Strategic Approach to Enhancing Capacity Building that identified four capacity building pathways. These included targeted capacity building across focal areas (cross-cutting) as “a cost-effective means of addressing capacity building needs at a systemic or institutional level that are not unique to any one focal area, but will assist countries to manage global environmental issues in a more general way.

Based on the results of NCSAs, 23 Medium-Size Projects – called CB2 projects – were approved under GEF-4 to address national environmental capacity constraints. These projects primarily focused on developing capacities to improve environmental governance systems and on mainstreaming global environmental issues into national development agendas.


Following the successful experience with the NCSAs, the objective of the Cross-Cutting Capacity Development (CCCD) Strategy during the period of GEF-5 (2010-2014) has been to address those important capacity needs that will enhance a country’s ability to meet its obligations under the Conventions by creating synergies, while at the same time catalyzing the mainstreaming of MEAs into national policy, management or financial and legislative frameworks.