GEF Council agrees on $700 million for urgent environmental action – GEF

The Global Environment Facility’s governing body, meeting remotely, has agreed on $700 million for projects and programs to help developing countries keep advancing urgent environmental priorities through and beyond the coronavirus pandemic. The new and expanded programming under the GEF-7 replenishment cycle spans oceans, chemicals, land use, wildlife trafficking, green shipping, and climate change adaptation, and the LDCF work program focuses on helping vulnerable countries and communities continue to build their climate resilience. The GEF Council also selected a new CEO and Chairperson, Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, who will take over from Naoko Ishii in August.

 

In a boost to international environmental action at an uncertain time for the world economy, the Global Environment Facility’s governing body has agreed on $700 million for projects and programs that will help developing countries protect marine biodiversity, fight wildlife trafficking, tackle dangerous uses of mercury, and fortify defenses against climate change in the agriculture and fisheries sectors, in basic services such as drinking water, and other areas.

 

The GEF Council, meeting remotely due to the coronavirus pandemic, endorsed the multilateral trust fund’s $645 million proposed work program as well as $60 million in projects from the GEF-managed Least Developed Countries Fund which focuses on climate resilience in the world’s poorest countries.

 

Delegates across 17 time zones, from Mexico to New Zealand, discussed the urgency of continuing to work together to address environmental challenges to ensure there is no backsliding on global priorities in a time when many governments are rightly focused on managing public health crises and related economic shutdowns. They also reached consensus on a new administrative budget for the GEF to maintain business continuity throughout the coronavirus crisis period.

 

It was the last GEF Council meeting presided over by Naoko Ishii, whose second term as CEO and Chairperson of the 183-member body ends in July.

 

During her tenure, the GEF broadened its approach to tackle the underlying drivers of environmental degradation in addition to their symptoms, with a focus on the transformation of key economic systems through integration, new Impact Programs, and multi-stakeholder partnerships that tackle pressures on nature from human systems.

 

“I am so thankful to you, the Council, GEF families and partners, and the staff of our GEF Secretariat, for shifting our focus towards the root causes of environmental degradation, and to the central importance of system-wide changes,” she told the virtual session. “Many institutions have successful projects. But few institutions manage to move from a project logic to a system logic, let alone have the courage of catalyzing systems-wide change. That is what we have been trying to do together at the GEF – identifying the key ingredients of system-wide change and investing in those at scale. I believe we have made good progress – but we have not arrived at the final station yet.”

 

On the first day of the Council meeting, Costa Rican Environment and Energy Minister Carlos Manuel Rodriguez was named the GEF’s next CEO and Chairperson for a four-year term beginning August 1, 2020.

 

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