About the CI-GEF Project Agency

The CI-GEF Project Agency at Conservation International mobilizes and leverages Global Environment Facility (GEF) resources to support national governments and partners to generate global environmental benefits in support of human well-being, through responsible and sustainable stewardship of natural capital.


Hands full of tree saplings
© Thomas Muller

Our mandate and approach

The Agency serves as a transparent and responsive intermediary between the GEF and Conservation International’s global partners. The Agency designs and implements a portfolio of projects to achieve global environmental benefits and support the needs of partner countries. It seeks to develop inclusive and country-driven projects, to make efficient and effective use of GEF resources, and to operate in a flexible manner to ensure responsiveness to partners and maintain the ability to rapidly leverage strategic opportunities that align with the Agency’s strategic results framework.


Sunrise at coastline of Lombok island, Indonesia.   
© Konstantin Trubavin/Aurora Photos

Conservation International and the GEF

As a Project Agency of the GEF, Conservation International brings over 25 years of innovative research and solutions to transform the conservation agenda. With our partners, we have worked to provide the right knowledge, to the right people, at the right scales, so they can build sustainable societies and improve lives while sustaining natural capital. Conservation International serves as a trusted advisor to global decision-makers, providing the data, tools, counsel, and access to funding needed to first identify and then to protect or restore essential ecosystems. Our partnerships, expertise, and experience provide a foundation from which we hope to solve today’s greatest environmental challenges, and successfully contribute to the mission of the GEF.

In particular, Conservation International’s structure and experience complements the GEF in the following ways:

  • Conservation International Global Reach
  • Science and Innovation
  • Private Sector Partnerships
  • Operational Capacity and Approach
  • Conservation International Funds and Funding Instruments

Policies and procedures

The CI-GEF Project Agency is fully streamlined with GEF policies and procedures, reducing the time needed to move a project through the GEF Project Cycle, thus mobilizing GEF resources as quickly as possible. As a small unit integrated within a global NGO, the CI-GEF Project Agency has operational flexibility as a private organization, with limited bureaucracy.

All CI-GEF projects must adhere to the following policies and procedures:

Learn more about reporting Conflicts of Interest and Grievances.

What we fund

The CI-GEF Project Agency portfolio focuses on funding projects in four primary strategic results areas to best leverage the synergies between Conservation International and the GEF in support of country partners to generate global environmental benefits and improve human well-being.

CI-GEF Project Agency seeks projects that contribute to global environmental benefits through:

  • Improving Natural Capital Conservation and Governance
  • Improving Sustainability of Production in Terrestrial and Marine Ecosystems
  • Preventing Loss and Degradation in Ridge to Reef Ecosystems
  • Ensuring a Sustainable Flow of Ecosystem Services

Awards and Financials

Please visit our Awards page to view Conservation International contracts awarded using a competitive Request for Proposals process for GEF-funded activities implemented by the CI-GEF Agency. To view auditing reports for the CI-GEF Agency, please visit our Financials page. 

Working with us

The CI-GEF Project Agency does not have a pre-defined approach for GEF project executing arrangements, and is open to partnerships with all types of stakeholders, including government agencies and civil society and community-based organizations.

If your organization would like to work with the CI-GEF Project Agency, please request more information by sending an email to CIGEF@conservation.org

Orissa Samaroo

Vice President, GEF Policy and Portfolio Management

Originally from Georgetown, Guyana, Orissa joined Conservation International in April 2011. Before joining Conservation International, she worked at the Global Environment Facility on the Operations and Business Strategy Team and the World Bank in the Water and Sanitation Program. She has a Masters in International Development with a concentration in Environmental Management from George Washington University.

Languages: English

Free de Koning

Vice President, Project Development and Impact, CI-GEF Project Agency 

Free returns to Conservation International after two and a half years at the World Resources Institute in DC, where he directed the Natural Resource Governance Practice. Before WRI, he was at Conservation International for 8 years — based in Ecuador — first as director of the Conservation Strategies Unit of the Center for Biodiversity Conservation (CBC)-Andes and later as technical director of Conservation International’s Ecuador program. He has also worked for the German International Cooperation (GIZ), the University of Göttingen, and Wageningen University and Research.

Free’s experience is in conservation incentive programs, ecosystem services, climate change, protected area management, land use planning and natural resource governance. He holds an M.Sc. in Agricultural Sciences and a Ph.D. in land use change modeling from Wageningen University in the Netherlands.

Free is Dutch and likes to explore nature on his bike or hiking.

Languages: Dutch, English, Spanish

Susana Escudero

Senior Director, Grants Management, GEF Project Agency and GCF Implementing Agency

Susana joined Conservation International in 2012 and serves as the Director of Grants Management for the CI-GEF Agency. She focuses on financial management and operations of the CI-GEF portfolio of projects and manages the relationship with the GEF Trustee. Previously, Susana served as the Senior Manager of Multilateral Relations, managing Conservation International’s portfolio of GEF projects through Multilaterals. Susana has also worked for the Inter-American Development Bank as a consultant and Cargill. Susana holds a Master of Public Administration with a focus on non-profit management from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and a Bachelor of Science in Cell and Molecular Biology from Tulane University. Susana is a native of Brazil and has spent her adult life in the U.S.

Languages: English, Portuguese, Spanish

Daniela Carrión

Senior Director, Project Design and Oversight

Daniela is from Ecuador and has experience in forests and land use, climate change, and sustainable development in Latin America. She started her career working as a government official at the Ministry of Environment of Ecuador. Before joining Conservation International, she worked as regional technical advisor for Latin America and the Caribbean for the UN-REDD Program at the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). She holds a bachelor degree in Economics, an M.Sc. in International Relations, and an M.Sc. in Environment and Development from The London School of Economics and Political Science.

Languages: Spanish (native), English (fluent)

Ian Kissoon

Senior Director, Environmental and Social Framework

Ian hails from the South American country of Guyana and joined the CI-GEF team in February 2015. He holds two masters degrees from the University of Cape Town, South Africa; an MSc Degree in Conservation Biology and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration (MBA). Prior to joining the Agency, Ian worked at the UNDP’s Office in Guyana where he served as the country’s National Coordinator for the GEF Small Grants Programme (SGP). He also worked with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Guyana where he led the work of the Protected Areas Unit, and this included the development of the national protected areas legislation and co-management plans for the Kanuku Mountains and Shell Beach Protected Areas. He developed a passion for ensuring the design and implementation of good conservation projects from having seen the positive impacts such projects can have on the lives of people in communities.

Languages: English

Charity Nalyanya

Director, Project Management and Technical Oversight Africa, CI-GEF Project Agency

Charity is from Kenya and has experience in climate change adaptation, climate change policy development, climate finance, sustainable environmental resource management, community and rural development and gender mainstreaming. She has in-depth understanding of the development of Global Environment Facility (GEF) and Green Climate Fund (GCF) projects. She has also participated in the formulation of national and regional climate change legislative frameworks, and the management and implementation of climate change projects in various anglophone and francophone countries in Africa. For instance, she was the assistant lead author of Kenya’s National GCF Strategy (2018) and Kenya’s GCF Handbook (2018). Further, she was one of the key developers of the Toolkit for Integrating Climate Information and Services into Legislation in Africa (2016) — an initiative funded by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).

Prior to joining Conservation International, Charity was a Consultant and Business Development Manager at Climate and Energy Advisory Ltd previously known as CAMCO Advisory Services Kenya Ltd. She holds a Master’s Degree in Environmental Studies and Community Development from Kenyatta University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Studies (Community Development) (Hons) also from Kenyatta University.

Languages: English, Swahili

Shannon Wiecks

Grants Manager, CI-GEF Project Agency

Originally from Minneapolis, Shannon joined CI in 2017 and currently serves as the Grants Manager for the CI-GEF Project Agency. Prior to joining Conservation International, Shannon worked in finance at an advertising agency in downtown Minneapolis. Her passion for the environment and international development stems from her study abroad travels and interest in nature. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts from the University of Minnesota Duluth.

Languages: English

Prapti Bhandary

Senior Manager, Project Support and Delivery, CI-GEF Project Agency

Originally from Kathmandu, Nepal, Prapti joined Conservation International in 2020 as the Manager for Project Support, Monitoring and Evaluation. Prior to joining CI, she was the Flagship Manager/Senior Research Analyst in the Environment and Production Technology Division at the International Food Policy Research Institute. She has worked on several projects related to climate resilience, climate smart agriculture, ecosystem services, and natural resource management in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. She holds a Master's degree in Environmental Policy from Bard College’s Center for Environmental Policy and a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science from Kathmandu University. Prapti is interested in impact-driven programming that benefits the environment, builds resilience of vulnerable communities and enables them to adapt to changing landscapes.   


Languages: English, Nepali

Elizabeth Mast

Senior Grants Manager, GEF Project Agency and GCF Implementing Agency

Before joining CI, Elizabeth lived in Austin, Texas. For 5 years, she worked as a grants manager for the non-profit Texas CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), which provides support and funding to the local CASA programs in Texas, which advocate on behalf of children in the foster system.   

Elizabeth holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Virginia.  Her studies focused on sustainable development and she did her internship with a solar energy start-up for which she co-authored a peer-reviewed case study on the market barriers the company faced.

Languages: English, French 


Rocky Marcelino

Senior Manager, Monitoring and Evaluation, GEF Project Agency and GCF Implementing Agency

Rocky (Aki) is from Bataan, Philippines, and has decade-long experience as a statistician and data analyst. His focus on the development sector includes using statistical methodology to monitor and evaluate program and project impacts using data analytics. He served as M&E specialist and resource person to key Philippine national government agencies such as the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. In the international development sector, he worked with numerous international organizations such as the Fundacion CODESPA, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, UNICEF, UNDP, and the Asian Development Bank. Aki obtained his Bachelor's and Master of Science degrees in Statistics from the University of the Philippines Los Baños. He developed his passion for development work when he joined as a volunteer at the Ugnayan ng Pahinungod, a volunteer organization at his university.

Languages: English, Filipino 

Juliana Rios

Manager, Environmental and Social Management Framework, GEF Project Agency and GCF Implementing Agency

Juliana joined CI in April 2022. She has experience on gender, inclusion, and social safeguarding issues. She has worked in the past seven years in development projects and programs, making sure that the voices of women and those from disadvantaged groups feature high in project design, decision making and implementation. She has worked for government institutions, local NGOs, and international cooperation for development assistance. Throughout her career, she has contributed to advance rights for women, young people, people with disabilities, LGBTIQ, and children. Before joining the CI-GEF Agency as Manager, Environmental and Social Management Framework, Juliana was a Social Development Adviser for the UK’s FCDO in Colombia. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and has an MSc in Social Policy and Development from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Juliana is from Colombia and has spent most of her life living in Bogotá, with some short periods of time in other places around the world.

Languages: Spanish, English

Olivia Reed

Manager, Knowledge Management and Communications, GEF Project Agency and GCF Implementing Agency

Originally from Pennsylvania, Olivia joined Conservation International in 2021. Her professional background lies in legal studies and communication strategy. Prior to joining CI, she obtained a Master's degree in Environmental Law and Sustainable Development from SOAS University of London and a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies from Temple University. Her studies and thesis work centered around cocoa-related deforestation and ethical consumption. Olivia has a passion for conservation, working towards corporate social responsibility, and environmental justice.  

Languages: English

Amalia Matallana

Grants Manager, GEF Project Agency and GCF Implementing Agency

Amalia joined Conservation International in 2023. Prior to this, Amalia worked in the international solidarity sector for more than three years contributing to proposal development and grant management of humanitarian emergency response and international development programs aimed at supporting Venezuelan refugees and migrants, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and host communities in Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, and Peru. She holds a bachelor's degree in Political Science (Lyon II Lumière University) and a MSc in International Affairs (Sciences Po Lyon). Amalia is Colombian and American and has lived in Colombia and in France.

Languages: English, French, Portuguese, and Spanish

Laureen Cheruiyot

Manager, GEF Project Support Africa, GEF Project Agency 


Laureen joined the CI-GEF Project Agency in 2023. She has over 5 years of experience in climate change, Natural Resource Management, renewable energy, grants management, and consulting. Before joining CI, Laureen was the Portfolio Manager for the UK PACT Programme in Kenya - a Programme supporting governments to meet their climate change ambitions. Additionally, Laureen has participated in the development of National and Regional climate change legislative frameworks and delivered climate change and Renewable Energy projects across Africa. She was the Team Leader in developing the Financing strategy for Kenya’s Nationally Determined Contributions; and the evaluation of the Green Economy Implementation Plan (GESIP), among others. 

Laureen is finalizing her Master's in Sustainable Energy Transitions at Strathmore University, Kenya, and holds a Bachelor of Science in Geography from Egerton University, Kenya.  She is also a certified Project Manager from the Project Management Institute. 

Languages: English, Swahili, and French (Intermediate)

Yaisa Bejarano

Manager, GEF Project Support

Yaisa is from Colombia and has previously worked as an advisor for the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development. During her time at the Ministry of Environment, she worked with the GEF portfolio in Colombia and has experience in the formulation and monitoring of projects focusing on biodiversity, climate change and land degradation topics. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs from the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá with a minor in International Cooperation. 

Languages: English and Spanish

Lina Florez

Grants Manager, GEF Project Agency

Lina Maria Florez Ramirez is an Environmental Engineer with a Master's degree in Territory Governance and Public Management from Javeriana University in Bogota. She has experience working on sustainable development projects at UNDP Colombia and managing grants, where she has developed and implemented policies, plans, programs, and strategies to advance environmental sustainability at the territorial level. She also has experience in the private sector and academia as a university professor. She is passionate about building sustainable communities through an inclusive and equitable sustainable development approach, which has allowed her to establish effective relationships with a wide range of actors.

Languages: English and Spanish

Liam Libbey

Coordinator, GEF Project Agency and GCF Implementing Agency

Originally, from Arlington Virginia, Liam has made a full circle, moving to Indiana to pursue a double major in Engineering and Developmental Economics. His studies brought him to Peru and Chile where he focused on the political and economic effects that led to, and were caused by, the various agrarian reforms of the Southern Cone and the Andean countries, meeting with people whose land was expropriated and those granted expropriated land. The effect of climate change on drought and human migration is of great importance to Liam, specifically the impact of drought in the Andes, which feeds migration to and deforestation in the Amazon.

Languages: English, Spanish, French and Portuguese