More than 30 nations have pledged $4.25bn to the world’s largest environmental fund, the Global Environment Facility (GEF), in the first significant multilateral step toward the commitments in Copenhagen on climate change and in other key international environmental agreements, said the GEF.
The $4.25bn pledged over the next four years is the largest ever increase in funding for the GEF, representing a 52 per cent increase in new resources provided by its donors.
‘This record replenishment…is a testimony to the international donor community’s commitment to the environmental agenda,’ said Axel van Trotsenburg, vice president of concessional finance and global partnerships for World Bank and co-chair of the GEF-5 replenishment negotiations.
‘The GEF’s comprehensive focus, supporting climate change, biodiversity and other critical environmental areas, coupled with its ability to deliver funding through multilateral development banks and the UN family, is what makes it a uniquely important facility,’ he added.
The GEF will channel the new financial resources into six key environmental focal areas including climate change, biodiversity, international waters, land degradation, persistent organic pollutants, mercury and the ozone layer.
Over the next four years the GEF will direct the funds into lowering carbon emissions. Specifically, it aims to expand sustainable management of protected areas and critical landscapes, and expand and protect the globe’s forest cover.
It is also looking to strengthen multi-state cooperation on water systems management, reduce organic pollutants in land and water, and reduce mercury emissions.
In addition, the GEF will implement a package of policy and operational reforms to give recipient countries greater ownership in funding choices.
The fund’s replenishment will meet obligations under several international agreements for which the GEF serves as a financial mechanism, including the Climate Change Convention, the Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, the Desertification and Ozone Conventions and the Convention on Biological Diversity.
Monique Barbut, CEO of the GEF Secretariat and co-chair of the replenishment negotiations, said, ‘It is now the GEF’s responsibility to transform these resources into concrete results on the ground. We are committed to supporting policy reforms for a stronger GEF, with a focus on recipient country ownership, more efficient implementation, and greater responsiveness and accountability to the UN conventions.’
Barbut said the new additional funding is the first tangible confirmation of the financial commitments made in Copenhagen last December, particularly some of the Fast-Start Financing, through the creation of a new initiative inside the GEF linked to sustainable forest management-REDD Plus.
Approximately $1.35bn will be programmed for the climate change focal area.
The GEF has been replenished four times since its inception in 1991. Firstly, $2.02bn was provided in 1994, $2.75bn in 1998, $2.92bn in 2002, and more recently $3.13bn in 2006.
The GEF unites 181 countries in partnership with international institutions, civil society, and the private sector to address global environmental issues in the context of national sustainable development.
The independently operated financial facility provides grants for projects related to biodiversity, climate change, international waters, land degradation, the ozone layer, and persistent organic pollutants, channelled through a variety agencies including multilateral development banks such as the World Bank and UN agencies.
The GEF is also the Secretariat for the Least Developed Countries and Special Climate Change Funds, formed to help some of the world’s most vulnerable populations to meet development challenges associated with climate change, including transfer of technology.
To date, the GEF has provided $8.7bn in grants for more than 2,400 environmental projects in over 165 developing countries and emerging economies.
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