Page 58 - Respond 2018 Magazine
P. 58


         Defining moment:

         How we are raising our

         ambition for a healthier


         Despite grave threats, development in harmony with the planet is within grasp.

         By Naoko Ishii, chief executive officer and chairperson, Global Environment Facility

         We stand at a defining moment for the future of the planet   With its unique mandate across multiple multilateral
         and human well-being. Our global commons –the land,   environmental agreements – and its financing, holistic
         seas and atmosphere we share, and the ecosystems they   approach and wide network of partners – the Global
         host – are under severe threat from ever more powerful   Environment Facility is particularly well placed to help
         human activities.                                    catalyze the required transformation.

         Several planetary boundaries, within which human society   Established on the eve of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, the
         has become established and thrives, have already been   Facility was set up to help tackle our planet’s most pressing
         transgressed as we have taken the global commons     environmental problems.
         for granted. On this trajectory, the threat – not just to
         the environment but to global aspirations for economic   Its strong, diverse, and expanding network of partners
         growth, prosperity, jobs and security – risks escalating out   includes 183 governments, together with civil society
         of control.                                          organizations, academia and private companies, as well as
                                                              its implementing and executing agencies.
         Business as usual will guarantee disaster. Incremental change
         will not suffice to avoid it: the challenge is just too great for   Since its inception, it has accumulated a vast body of
         that. The only solution is transformational, systems change.  experience and knowledge. It has a key role in bringing
                                                              together multiple stakeholders and in catalyzing the private
         To get on the right path to a better, safer future, we need to   sector to form sustainable partnerships. And it has also
         work together on common and systemic solutions, and to   always been ready to innovate.
         address the drivers of environmental degradation.
                                                              But the uncomfortable truth is that we, like the rest of the
         Three global megatrends will lead to further major   international community, are failing to reverse the sharp
         degradation of the global environment under a business as   downward trend in the global environment. We have won
         usual scenario: a growing population, which will exceed nine   battles, but the war is still being lost. There have been
         billion by 2050; a rapidly rising global middle class resulting   many good initiatives, but the Facility’s projects, too often
         in a tectonic shift in consumption and diet patterns; and   fragmented and isolated, have come up short in shifting
         rapid urbanization which is expected to add one billion new   the needle in the right direction, let alone in bringing about
         residents to the world’s cities.                     transformational change.

         To “de-couple” the impact of these megatrends, we must   It’s increasingly clear that the Facility cannot afford to stand
         fundamentally transform our key economic systems. We   still. In the face of the scale and the urgency of the threats
         need to change the systems that support how we live, how   facing the planet, the emerging global momentum for change,
         we eat, how we move and how we produce and consume. In   and the evolving global financial landscape, the Facility needs
         other words, four revolutionary shifts in social and economic   to seize opportunities to make a bigger difference.
         life are needed: transforming cities, re-thinking food and
         agriculture, decarbonizing energy systems, and investing in   It is high time for the Facility to change and – with the full
         the circular economy.                                support of its Council – it is doing so. Three years ago, the
                                                              Council agreed on the GEF2020, the organization’s first- ever
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