On World Environment Day, the Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of International Development and Minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada, announced that Canada will host the Seventh Assembly of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) in Vancouver, British Columbia, from August 22 to 26, 2023. As the world faces the interconnected challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution, Canada takes a leading role in advancing environmental action by fostering collaborations and seeking solutions for a healthier planet.
Following the successful hosting of the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15) in Montréal, Quebec, in December 2022—where significant progress was made in protecting global nature and establishing biodiversity financing—Canada further demonstrates its commitment as the host of the GEF Assembly this summer.
The GEF Assembly convenes every four years and serves as the global platform for coordinating financial support towards addressing climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution, and the strain on land and ocean health. This gathering will bring together environmental leaders from 185 countries, including government ministers, representatives from international organizations, businesses, academia, civil society, and will actively engage Indigenous Peoples, women, and young people.
Chief Wayne Sparrow, Musqueam Indian Band: “Indigenous ecological knowledge continues to prove its significant role in understanding our environment and planning for the future of our planet. Musqueam has long embraced the responsibility of environmental stewardship, as many Indigenous Peoples have around the world for generations. We are pleased to welcome international environmental leaders to our ancestral territory this summer for the Seventh Assembly of the Global Environment Facility, and we look forward to seeing how Indigenous knowledge is honoured and incorporated into these global discussions.”
The timing of this meeting is significant, following the groundbreaking agreements reached at COP15 on the Global Biodiversity Framework and the high seas treaty. At the GEF Assembly, a key expected outcome is the launch of the new Global Biodiversity Framework Fund, a crucial source of funding for protecting endangered species and their ecosystems. This establishment holds the potential to attract private sector and philanthropic support for nature conservation. The management of this fund will be entrusted to the GEF, headquartered in Washington, D.C., as announced during COP15.
Carlos Manuel Rodríguez, CEO and Chairperson of the Global Environment Facility: “We are delighted to be holding the Seventh GEF Assembly in Canada, whose steady leadership in environmental diplomacy has yielded enormous benefits around the world. This gathering of the GEF’s member governments and diverse partners gives us a unique chance to build on recent breakthroughs, including long-sought agreements on biodiversity and the high seas, and ensure that the urgent environmental challenges we face are addressed in an inclusive and integrated way.”
Canada, as a founding member of the GEF, utilizes it as a primary mechanism to assist developing countries in addressing climate change. At COP15, Canada committed to providing $219 million from 2022 to 2026 to support the GEF’s eighth replenishment and aid developing countries in tackling global environmental challenges while fulfilling their commitments under international environmental conventions. Furthermore, Canada pledged an additional $350 million in funding to conserve biodiversity and facilitate the implementation of the Global Biodiversity Framework.
In June 2021, Canada also doubled its climate finance commitment to $5.3 billion over five years (2021 to 2026), aiming to support developing countries in their transition towards low-carbon, climate-resilient, nature-positive, and inclusive sustainable development.
Wilson Williams (Sxwíxwtn), Spokesperson for the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation): “We look forward to welcoming those from around the world for this important gathering. Indigenous Peoples have been on the front lines of the climate crisis, using our Indigenous ways of knowing to help influence policy and climate action. We look forward to these important discussions and sharing both our experiences and solutions, as we seek to help heal our fragile ecosystem so that future generations may benefit from the choices we make today.”