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Saturday, September 23, 2023

Nations rally to protect the global environment, pledge $4.1b to GEF

Some 30 countries have jointly pledged $4.1 billion to the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to better protect the future of the planet and human well-being. With the health of the global environment worsening, the GEF has received strong support for its new four-year investment cycle (known as GEF-7), to help safeguard the world’s forests, land, water, climate, and oceans, build green cities, protect threatened wildlife, and tackle new environmental threats like marine plastic pollution.

Stockholm, Sweden, hosted the fourth meeting of the GEF-7 replenishment

“We are pleased with the outcome of the negotiations; It is entirely in line with government priorities,” said Isabella Lovin, Deputy Prime Minister and Climate Minister of Sweden, who hosted the donors meeting on Wednesday, April 25, 2018.  “Also, the Fund’s working methods have been further strengthened, giving it more of a strategic climate focus and increased resources, including for biodiversity, chemicals and waste.”

“A clear majority of donors have stepped up their support for the GEF, signalling the urgency of the global environmental agenda, and trust in the GEF to help tackle the problem and achieve even greater results,” said Naoko Ishii, GEF CEO and Chairperson. “We need to forge the partnerships that will help transform the food, urban and energy systems in an integrated way. GEF-7 is designed to do just that,” she said.

With an emphasis on addressing the drivers of environmental degradation, gender equality, and stronger collaboration with the private sector, the GEF is now poised to deliver even greater results for the environment, and better value for money: The new strategy doubles the target for greenhouse gas emissions mitigated from GEF projects compared to the last funding cycle, and increases by almost 50% the targets for the protection of biodiversity and valuable ecosystems.

“Over the last 25 years the GEF has been an essential mechanism for addressing environmental challenges at a multilateral level and has made a great difference,” said Axel van Trotsenburg, World Bank Vice President, Development Finance, and co-Chair of the replenishment meeting. “Today, the international community again gave GEF a strong vote of confidence through the endorsement of a $4.1 billion financial support package for the next four years.  With this renewed mandate, GEF will be able to continue its important role as an impact investor in environmental programs around the globe.”

The new funding will support countries to meet their obligations under various multilateral environmental agreements, including the recently adopted Minamata Convention on Mercury, the three Rio Conventions on Biodiversity, Climate, and Land Degradation, and the Stockholm Convention. Also, strong emphasis is given to financing for Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States.

“Cote d’Ivoire is pleased to return as a donor in GEF-7. The first major conference of the GEF took place in Abidjan in December 1992 under the leadership of H.E. Mr. Alassane Ouattara, then Prime Minister of Côte d’Ivoire. Now, as President of the Republic, he has been instrumental in the return of Cote d’Ivoire as a donor in GEF-7,” said Adama Koné, Minister of Economy & Finance for Côte d’Ivoire.  “Cote d’Ivoire welcomes and strongly supports GEF-7 Impact programs and strategies aimed at addressing the concerns of the beneficiary countries while maximizing the global environmental benefits.”

In recent years, the world agreed on the Global Goals of Agenda 2030, and the Paris Agreement, elevating the ambition and action needed to put the world on a sustainable path. GEF-7 is the first replenishment of the GEF after these landmark agreements and another sign that the world is responding.

“The Global Environment Facility’s new focus on transforming food systems, sustainable forest management, and cities is not only good for the planet and human well-being, but an enormous business opportunity,” said Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever. This is an exciting moment for the GEF, which is tackling complex problems by inviting stronger collaboration with the private sector. Business can help innovate, finance and scale solutions for environmental sustainability, which in turn can open up better and more inclusive growth opportunities.”

GEF-7 comes at a critical time for the world, and will help ensure that the hopes and aspirations of millions of people are met without stretching Earth to a breaking point.

“Countries have given a central role to the Global Environment Facility in helping to transform our economies and to safeguard the global commons – the land, seas and atmosphere we share, and the ecosystems they host,” said Nicholas Stern, Chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics.  “Protecting and nurturing our global commons and ecosystems is fundamental to sustainable growth and poverty reduction.  No other kind of growth can last.  This is the growth story of the 21st century.  The next 15 years will decide the future of the world for the rest of the century and beyond.  The cost of inaction is immense.  Congratulations to the entire GEF partnership for adopting this ambitious new agenda.”

The GEF-7 replenishment will be formally concluded at the upcoming GEF Assembly that will take place from June 27-28 in Da Nang, Vietnam.

The fourth meeting of the GEF-7 replenishment was held in Stockholm, Sweden, on April 25, 2018.

Akinwumi Adesina, President, African Development Bank, says: “The African Development Bank’s partnership with the GEF has been a highlight of our environmental actions in Africa. GEF7 offers new exciting opportunities to expand our partnership into new areas that support Africa’s transformation. The links between GEF and the Bank’s High 5, climate change, and green growth agenda, as well as the Sustainable Development Goals are very strong. A robust GEF7 replenishment is necessary to address Africa’s increasing environmental threats. We look forward to a stronger partnership with the GEF in Africa and we thank all donor participants for a successful GEF7 replenishment.”

Inger Andersen, Director General, International Union for Conservation of Nature: “We’re in the midst of a global biodiversity crisis that has plunged the planet into a 6th mass extinction. But there is hope because, done right and done now, conservation works. The GEF, armed with the strong support from its donor countries, is essential in helping organisations like IUCN tackle the major threats to our natural world.”

Monique Barbut, Executive Secretary, UN Convention to Combat Desertification: “Investing in sustainable land management is the most straightforward path to building climate change resilience and conserving biodiversity. But equally important is the vital role that healthy and productive land can play in securing the lives and livelihoods of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable communities. Investments in land must be transformative, innovative and generate added value. We count on the increasing recognition by the GEF family of the crucial importance of investing more in the Land Degradation Focal Area.”

Ligia Castro, Corporate Director, Environment and Climate Change Department, Development Bank of Latin America (CAF): “In CAF we are a development bank committed to improving the quality of life of all Latin Americans and our actions promote sustainable development and the integration of the region. The lines of action of CAF as well as the GEF-7 programming in focal areas and impact programmes bring to us a fertile field to strengthen our collaborative efforts and achieve the catalytic change of the inclusive development of low-carbon economies, giving priority to conservation and the efficient use of the natural capital of the region.”

Suma Chakrabarti, President, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development: “The EBRD is delighted for its long cooperation with the GEF, which has grown steadily over the past fifteen years. The EBRD’s mandate to promote green, market-based economies and its track record in mobilising private capital are firmly aligned with the GEF’s mission. Now, in its seventh replenishment, we look forward to delivering even more innovative projects together and catalysing greater private sector involvement to address the systemic drivers of environmental degradation in our region.”

Mr. Chen Liang, Director General, Foreign Economic Cooperation Office of the Ministry of Environmental Protection of China: “The seventh phase of the GEF (GEF-7) will be critical for fulfilment of the GEF 2020 Strategy. FECO, as a long-term partner and accredited Project Agency of the GEF, hopes to see substantial replenishment for the GEF-7, during which FECO has high expectations to join hands with the GEF to work towards realisation of MEAs targets on climate change, biodiversity, chemical and waste etc. and contribute to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals.”

Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary, UN Climate Change: “The impacts of extreme weather are already being felt throughout the world and we must work together at all levels to significantly increase our commitment to addressing climate change. The GEF plays an important role in financing and driving action that will make a real and lasting difference.”

Christiana Figueres, Convener, Mission 2020: “GEF’s new ambitious strategy is a huge boost to environmental protection efforts and is far from business as usual. If we are to achieve the Global Goals for sustainable development and deliver on the ambition of the Paris Agreement, we must reach a climate turning point in 2020. With its new integrated approach and focus on transforming urban, energy and land-use systems, the GEF is set to yield much higher results including a doubling of greenhouse gas emissions mitigated in its projects and programs.  This is very good news for the environment and takes us one step closer to a climate-safe world.”

Kristalina Georgieva, Chief Executive Officer, World Bank: “The World Bank has been part of the GEF from the very beginning, and we are proud of our contribution to tackling the planet’s most pressing environmental challenges. We are a strong and committed partner on driving the expansion of clean energy around the world, promoting the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, and helping to build resilience among communities through sustainable management of their natural resources. This 7th replenishment will help us scale up the GEF’s innovations even more in our investment projects, and create more space for the private sector to play a role.”

Gilbert F. Houngbo, President, International Fund for Agricultural Development: “The partnership between IFAD and GEF has led to qualitative improvements in more than 40 project investments. Last year, more than 31,000 farmers were able to take adaptation measures on their lands to protect against climate change impacts. Our combined development approach means that we can address environmental issues and ensure access to natural resources such as soil, water, biodiversity and energy to achieve multiple benefits. We look forward to continuing our collaboration with GEF to support rural communities deal with environmental degradation and climate vulnerabilities in the decades to come.”

Prof. Pavel Kabat, Director General and Chief Executive Officer, and Prof. Nebojsa Nakicenovic, Deputy Director General and Deputy Chief Executive Officer, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis: “Safeguarding the global commons, from clean air to healthy forests, is key to underpin a prosperous and safe future for all humanity. This requires systemic thinking in environment-related policies and investments that recognise the interconnectedness of the world’s natural, social, and economic systems. GEF is one of the pioneers in using high-quality science to adopt integrated approaches to sustainable development such as a joint GEF-UNIDO-IIASA project on interlinked solutions for energy, food, water and urbanisation. The healthy replenishment of the GEF’s trust fund is a strong endorsement for such a transformative and systemic approach.”

Rosa Lemos de Sá, Chief Executive Officer, Brazilian Biodiversity Fund (Funbio): “GEF’s continuous support has been of utmost importance to the conservation of biodiversity in Brazil. To be able to participate in the replenishment process gave us a new perspective of the enormous negotiation effort necessary to reach a balance where all partners agree. Now, at the end of this process, we are confident of the continuity of the extensive collaboration of the GEF with Brazil and its future. Funbio is honoured to be a GEF Agency.”

LI Yong, Director General, United Nations Industrial Development Organisation: “As the global community continues its pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), joint efforts such as those undertaken by the GEF partnership are essential to the achievement of the SDGs. In our pursuit of inclusive and sustainable industrial development, UNIDO fully supports the GEF’s strategic priorities for GEF-7 and looks forward to furthering its strategic alliance with the GEF, as well as other agencies of the extended GEF partnership.”

Amy Luers, Executive Director, Future Earth: “Today virtually all sustainability issues must be considered in a global context.  As a result, the Global Environment Facility is needed more than ever. The Future Earth community will continue to support the GEF’s mission by providing the science needed to enable a systems approach to protecting the global commons. We look forward to deeper collaborations in the future.”

Jennifer Morris, President, Conservation International: “Humanity faces a critical moment for ensuring sustainable growth in an age of resource depletion and climate change. The renewed funding for the Global Environment Facility is a welcome sign that the international community continues to prioritise this work. Conservation International is proud to partner with the Global Environment Facility to deliver planet-sized impact in protecting the nature humanity needs to thrive.”

Takehiko Nakao, President, Asian Development Bank: “The global environment is facing mounting pressures from climate change, pollution, unsustainable consumption and poor land management practices. Increasingly, this will have a huge impact on regional economies and human well-being. Working together ADB and the GEF can play a key role in helping countries to scale up investments to support resilient and sustainable development.”

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Co-chair, Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, and former Finance Minister, Nigeria: “Financing the transition to a low-carbon economy is fundamental to securing a more sustainable, prosperous future. The strong support for the GEF’s new replenishment and strategy will help deliver this transformation and avoid the potentially enormous human and economic costs of congested cities, degraded agricultural and forest lands, and a changing climate.  Crucially, some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people are set to benefit from more GEF investment in the least developed countries.”

Cristiana Paşca Palmer, Executive Secretary, Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD): “The successful conclusion of the GEF-7 replenishment will contribute to the financial basis needed for addressing the tasks under the global Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2010-2020 in its remaining years, and the first two years of implementation of the global framework that succeeds it. The biodiversity programming directions for the next GEF cycle are in line with the need for the transformational change required to achieve the objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity and its Protocols.  I look forward to working with the GEF Partnership in the transition to the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.”

Rolph Payet, Executive Secretary, Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions: “GEF-7 marks an important step in our common journey to ensure sound management of chemicals and wastes worldwide and comes at a critical juncture for the Stockholm Convention since over ten new chemicals have been added in past decade.  This and the time-bound milestones for some legacy POPs, such as the 2025 deadline for PCBs, call for a renewed commitment of donor support for the implementation of the Stockholm Convention. There is hence an urgent need to scale-up efforts through multifocal area projects, innovative financing, and the strategic use of opportunities afforded by the GEF’s new Integrated Programmes.”

Mohale Rakgate, Group Executive: Project Preparation Division, Development Bank of Southern Africa: “The DBSA commits to an even more dynamic partnership with the GEF and the Government of South Africa and look forward to working together towards achievement of GEF-7 targets, exploring innovative technical and financial models, blending its resources to implement infrastructure and integrated cities projects that will lead to an increased developmental impact with evident global environment benefits. GEF-7 resources will play an important role in the Bank’s efforts to fully mainstream climate change and overall environment management in its core business and meeting financing targets in this regard and reporting thereof.”

Carter Roberts, President and Chief Executive Officer, World Wildlife Fund – US: “The success of global sustainability initiatives depend on building lasting partnerships with businesses, governments, and other organizations around the world. The Global Environment Facility has long been one of our movement’s most essential and irreplaceable partners. For example, the GEF’s anchor funding enabled WWF and others to secure permanent financing for protected areas in the Brazilian Amazon and Bhutan. GEF funding typically leverages 10X funding from other institutions and fuels many of the most innovative breakthroughs in the world of conservation. The new pledges announced today for the GEF ensure that it will continue to be an essential partner for years to come.”

Johan Rockström, Executive Director, Stockholm Resilience Centre: “The work of the Global Environment Facility is critically important for the future of humanity. The resilience of Earth’s life support system is under threat. Nations have now committed to enhancing this resilience and this is welcome news.”

Dr. Guido Schmidt-Traub, Executive Director, Sustainable Development Solutions Network: “The Sustainable Development Solutions Network congratulates the GEF on its successful replenishment meeting. The world is facing multiple environmental crises, including climate change, biodiversity loss, land degradation, and unsustainable food systems. The Paris Climate Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals can only be met if these integrated challenges are addressed at scale. The GEF-7 will make an important contribution towards meeting countries’ financing needs, and we hope that governments and business will leverage these resources over the years to come.”

Janis Searles Jones, Chief Executive Officer, Ocean Conservancy: “Ocean Conservancy has had the pleasure of working with GEF on reducing marine debris and we are pleased to see their continued commitment to protecting our ocean and supporting the blue economy with this latest plan to tackle ocean plastic. Marine debris has been a focus of our organisation for more than 30 years, and we know that we’ll need all hands on deck to take on this critical challenge to ocean health.”

Rossana Silva-Repetto, Executive Secretary, Minamata Convention on Mercury: “Mercury is a global issue with devastating effects on the environment and human health. The Minamata Convention Secretariat appreciates GEF backing of cooperative cross-cutting activities among implementing agencies in support of work on mercury. I am excited that the multi-region GEF GOLD PROJECT will tackle the use of mercury in artisanal mining in nine countries. I also look forward to working with GEF and the GEF entities on innovative ways to address other major emission sources. Together, we will Make Mercury History!”

Dr. Andrew Steer, President & Chief Executive Officer, World Resources Institute: “The funds pledged today to the GEF will have huge impact in protecting the global environment – and in turn in securing the prosperity of future generations. The GEF has designed a superb new strategy for allocating funds for maximum impact, and we look forward to an exciting new period of action. All 183 member countries should feel proud to be part of humanity’s boldest effort to protect the global commons.”

Achim Steiner, Administrator, United Nations Development Programme: “The Global Environment Facility (GEF) has invested more than $17 billion in grants over the past 25 years which has empowered and strengthened the resilience of vulnerable communities, transformed markets, and built the capacity of over 180 countries to safeguard their natural capital as the foundation of sustainable development. As we collectively work towards implementing Agenda 2030, UNDP stands committed to the countries we serve, the GEF, the GEF partnership and our shared goal to scale up innovative finance and leverage new investments to meet the urgency of the global environment and development challenges we face.”

Pavan Sukhdev, President, World Wide Fund for Nature International: “The stakes couldn’t be higher. If the loss of nature isn’t reversed, crucial biospheric systems will be seriously damaged and put much of life on Earth at risk. Food sustainability, adequate nutrition, and good health all depend on stable, safe and productive land and ocean ecosystems. However, today’s agri-food systems are depleting the very same resources on which their existence depends. Therefore, I am delighted that GEF’s strategy will support the necessary transformations of agri-food systems for the benefit of people and the planet.”

Ambassador Peter Thomson, United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean: “The time is upon us for humankind to take concerted action to ensure the wellbeing of the Ocean. We are called upon to reverse the cycle of decline in which the Ocean is currently caught, or condemn our children and grandchildren to the consequences of our inaction. The commitment of new financing for GEFs work in the marine environment is therefore timely and vital. I join with others in commending GEF’s support for meaningful implementation of SDG14, the Ocean goal.”

Nigel Topping, Chief Executive Officer, We Mean Business: “Our civilisation faces no more important task in the 21st century than that of rebalancing the relationship between ecosystems and economies.  The work of GEF is central to that task and the We Mean Business coalition is delighted to see GEF receive a new powerful mandate. I look forward to seeing GEF help public and private sectors collaborate to establish economies that grow with the flow of nature rather than by depleting the finite stocks of our one beautiful planet.”

Mark Watts, Executive Director, C40 Cities: “The GEF has been a steadfast supporter of cities and has served as a vital resource for helping cities in delivering bold and urgent climate action. The evidence is clear that action taken in years to 2020 will determine if the worst effects of climate change can be prevented, and cities will be crucial. The mayors of the world’s great cities will be pleased to know that they can rely on the Global Environment Facility as a vital partner in leading these efforts.”

Dominic Waughray, Head of International Institutional Agenda, World Economic Forum: “Addressing climate change, protecting the health of our ocean and biodiversity, stemming materials pollution and ensuring food and resource security are wicked, interconnected global environmental risks for our 21st century economy and society. Addressing them effectively – and with the necessary urgency – requires unprecedented cooperation. To this end, the Global Environment Facility’s innovative strategy for its 7th funding replenishment offers a keystone investment agenda for public-private cooperation to help secure our global commons in line with the SDGs. As the international organisation for public-private cooperation, the World Economic Forum stands ready to help the GEF advance this vital international agenda.”

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