Page 27 - Respond 2016 Magazine
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                                                                                                    Photo Credit: Pixabay

           Indeed, scientists are concluding that the world has moved out   The international conventions which it has long supported – on
           of the almost miraculously benign conditions of the past 11,000   climate change, biodiversity, land degradation, persistent organic
           years – the only ones known to be able to support civilization, let   pollutants and mercury – cover most global environmental
           alone a human population of 7 billion and rising – that we call the   issues that impact the health of the Earth system. It also has a
           Holocene. The Anthropocene that is succeeding it is a new terra   role in protecting the ozone layer, improving the management of
           incognita, a ‘no-anologue’ state beyond all human experience. And   transboundary freshwater resources and large marine ecosystems.
           yet the negative drivers that have brought about this momentous
           transition are growing in intensity. The world’s population   Over its quarter of a century, the GEF has accumulated a vast body
           is expected to reach 9 billion by 2050, while consumption is   of experience and knowledge.
           increasing even faster: by 2030 the global middle-class is likely to
           have expanded to 5 billion people. And the proportion of humanity   Above all, it has a record of achieving good results on the ground.
           living in towns and cities, which topped 50% in 2009, is due to   It has supported, for example, 790 projects for mitigating climate
           reach 75% by 2050.                                   change – contributing to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by
                                                                2.7 billion tonnes – together with adaption measures to reduce the
           On this trajectory, the threat not just to the environment but   vulnerability of more than 15 million people in 130 countries.
           to global aspirations for economic growth, prosperity, jobs and
           security – risks to escalate out of control. Business as usual will   The GEF works through a range of influencing models, each
           guarantee disaster. Incremental change will not suffice to avoid   chosen to match the barriers –  such as weak or inadequate
           it: the challenge is just too great for that. The only solution is   policy frameworks, lack of awareness, limited access to finance,
           transformational, systems change. There is simply no other option.  technological gaps, or failures in coordination – that must be
                                                                overcome if the intended benefits are to be achieved. Choosing the
           Fortunately the world last year took the first steps to begin to turn   right models – or a combination of them – increases the catalytic
           this growing tragedy of the commons into an opportunity. The 17   effects of the interventions that the GEF makes.
           Sustainable Development Goals, agreed by nearly 200 countries
           at the UN General Assembly, clearly recognize that the health of   But the uncomfortable truth is that we, like the rest of the
           the global commons is fundamental to development and growth,   international community, are failing to reverse the sharp downward
           aiming to end poverty and ensure prosperity while respecting   trend in the global environment. We have won battles, but the war
           planetary boundaries.  The Paris climate agreement, concluded by   is still being lost.
           the same governments in December does the same, while pledging
           to achieve zero net emissions of greenhouses gases in the second   So the GEF, too, needs to change and – with the full support of
           half of the century. But, important as this is, it is only a start. Much   its Council – it is doing so. Two years ago we published GEF 2020,
           more is needed, and it must happen fast: we are at a tipping point,   the organization’s first-ever long term strategy, which we are
           for good or ill, for the world’s environment and prosperity.   now implementing. We are switching the focus of our operations
                                                                to address the underlying negative drivers of environmental
           I believe that the GEF is particularly well placed to help catalyze   degradation – rather than merely its effects – and to supporting
           the required transformation. It can, and must, play an ever stronger   innovative and scalable activities that cost-effectively deliver the
           role as a champion of the global commons, its core mission.   highest impacts.

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