Page 26 - Respond 2016 Magazine
P. 26

section nameopment finance

       our global


       safeguarding                                                                the Global Environment Facility

                                                                                             By Naoko Ishii, Chair
       the planet                                                                     

       Big birthdays are occasions for celebration, and reflection – and
       reaching 25 years is a particularly important milestone. For a
       person, it marks the onset of full maturity, a moment at which
       soberly to confirm the course to an effective and satisfying
       adult life, while still retaining much of youth’s enthusiasm
       and willingness to innovate. And it can be much the same for

       Now the Global Environment Facility has reached this landmark moment. Set up in 1991 as a
       pilot programme in the run-up to the Earth Summit the following year, it has developed from
       being the financial mechanism for implementing international conventions agreed in Rio to   Naoki Ishii, Naoko Ishii, Chief Executive
       the foremost champion of the global commons on which civilization depends. But, as with a   Officer and Chairperson of the Global
       person reaching his or her quarter century, its greatest challenges - and opportunities to make   Environment Facility (GEF).
       a difference - lie ahead.

       Over those 25 years its original $1 billion programme has led to the investment of more than
       $15 billion, and the leverage of over $80 billion in additional resources, for more than 4,000
       projects in 167 countries. Its original three partners – the World Bank, the United Nations
       Development Programme and the United Nations Environment Programme – have grown to
       a network of 18 first-class implementing and executing agencies. But the task ahead is greater
       than ever, and requires that the GEF continues to innovate itself.

       For the global commons – on which the world’s societies and economies depend - are
       threatened more than ever before. Species are becoming extinct 10 to over 100 times faster
       than at historic rates, a great dying comparable to the mass extinctions in the geological
       record. Thirty per cent of global forest cover has been cleared, with another 20% degraded.
       One quarter of the world’s land area – on which 1.5 billion people depend – is being degraded,
       while 85% of global fish stocks are now fully exploited or have been depleted.

       Climate change is no longer a future threat, but a present reality - especially for many of the
       poorest and most vulnerable people on earth – the result of higher levels of greenhouse gases
       in the atmosphere than at any time in at least the last 800,000 years.

       So overwhelming are these impacts of human activities that the very biophysical processes
       that determine the stability and resilience of Earth are being pushed to the limit. Several,
       planetary boundaries within which human society has become established and thrives, have
       already been transgressed as the global commons that we have so long taken for granted         Photo Credit:
       come under irresistible pressure.                                                      UN Photo/Zach Krahmer

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