In the wake of a historic biodiversity agreement, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) unveils an unprecedented $1.4 billion work program, while laying the groundwork for a new Global Biodiversity Framework Fund. These initiatives accelerate global action to combat species loss and related crises.

During the upcoming 64th GEF Council meeting in Brasilia, the governing body will build upon the momentum generated by the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework and underscore the urgent need for accessible funding to protect, restore, and sustainably utilize nature.

This gathering represents another success for environmental diplomacy, following the recent breakthroughs in the negotiation of a new UN High Seas Treaty and advancements in addressing plastic pollution.

Carlos Manuel Rodríguez, the CEO and Chairperson of GEF, hailed the extensive work program, with a primary focus on biodiversity, as a significant catalyst for global endeavors to combat species loss this decade.

“The Global Environment Facility has a clear role to play in getting resources where they need to be as countries look to put nature first in their planning. The game-changing programs and projects in this record work program reflects that mandate,” the former Costa Rican energy and environment minister said. “It is very special for us to hold this meeting in Brazil as we work to keep moving forward on protecting biodiversity and addressing climate change and pollution.”

Recognizing the crucial role of civil society organizations (CSOs), Sano Akhetruzzaman, chairman of the GEF CSO Network, emphasized their vital contribution in implementing this program and advancing the cause of preserving Earth’s biodiversity.

The $1.4 billion funding from GEF is expected to leverage an additional $9.1 billion in co-financing from various sources, resulting in a comprehensive support package of $10.5 billion.

The majority of this support will be channeled through six out of eleven newly established Integrated Programs, which target the underlying causes of environmental degradation across multiple sectors. This holistic approach is set to generate substantial global environmental benefits across diverse dimensions.

Encompassing 94 percent of all countries eligible for GEF assistance, including developing nations, economies in transition, Least Developed Countries, and Small Island Developing States, the work program holds vast reach and impact.

Over the GEF-8 funding period until June 2026, $5.3 billion in donor funding will be deployed for environmental initiatives in developing countries.

In addition to reviewing the work program, Council members will deliberate on the establishment of the Global Biodiversity Framework Fund. This fund, entrusted to the GEF by the Convention on Biological Diversity, aims to accelerate biodiversity conservation efforts globally.

Delegates will also embark on visits to GEF-supported initiatives in the Amazon rainforest and in the capital of Brazil, focusing on protected areas and sustainable cities, respectively.

Simultaneously, the 34th Council of the GEF-hosted Least Developed Countries Fund and Special Climate Change Fund will address climate change adaptation projects and programs, with over $63 million allocated for vulnerable countries.

This gathering in Brazil serves as a stepping stone towards the quadrennial GEF Assembly, scheduled to take place in Vancouver in August.

The Assembly, uniting government, business, and civil society representatives from GEF’s 185 member countries, will witness the official launch of the Global Biodiversity Framework Fund, with a strong emphasis on the involvement of young people.

Rodríguez expressed optimism about recent progress in multilateral discussions on biodiversity, the high seas, fisheries subsidies, plastics, and chemicals. Although ecological and climate challenges remain formidable, he highlighted the importance of confronting these issues collectively.

“We are clear-eyed about the problems we are facing. Still, I feel very positive about the fact that we are looking directly at those problems and taking steps to solve them together,” he said. “The journey is underway and every single step we take matters – including these big leaps.”

Source: The GEF
Featured photo: Benaja Germann

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