GEF Council approves $916 million for spending on environmental Action and innovation

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) Council, during their meeting in Washington DC on Monday, approved a $916 million spending package to bolster efforts to tackle biodiversity loss, nature degradation, climate change, and pollution.

The significant move made by the 186 member states, highlights the commitment of nations to collaborative efforts in combating complex environmental issues. In a statement by the GEF governing body, the funding which is the second largest in the organization’s history, is set to support 45 projects and programs, including innovative blended finance initiatives involving the private sector across 77 countries including 22 Least Developed Countries and 14 Small Island Developing States, and is estimated to mobilize $7.5 billion in cofinancing, including from bilateral governments and multilateral development banks, with the largest regional shares of the funding package allocated to Africa and Asia.

The recent initiative by the GEF stands out due to its commitment of $530 million towards Integrated Programs that address issues such as the ocean, food systems, transportation infrastructure, wildlife conservation, and critical forest biomes. These programs aim to dismantle barriers between sectors and nations, fostering comprehensive action.

Carlos Manuel Rodríguez, the CEO and Chairperson of GEF, stressed the significance of an inclusive and integrated strategy to achieve lasting results, recognizing the necessity of eliminating detrimental practices through collaborative endeavors.

The work program prioritizes a comprehensive strategy to reverse environmental degradation and stands out not only for its size but also for its emphasis on inclusive practices. Moreover, the approved support is expected to directly benefit over 12 million people, including Indigenous Peoples and local communities, underscoring the GEF’s commitment to addressing urgent needs beyond financing alone.

The initiative which follows worldwide environmental objectives, is set to advance 21 of the 23 targets outlined in the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, emphasizing the importance of biodiversity conservation for sustainable development.

While a significant portion of the GEF-8 support will be provided as grants, the work program includes $81 million for four blended finance projects. These projects are expected to mobilize an impressive $1.36 billion in outside investment, showcasing a co-financing ratio of 17 to 1.

The focus on innovative capital market solutions and support for small- and medium-sized enterprises highlights a commitment to diverse and sustainable financing strategies. Each project and program proposal within the GEF work program demonstrates a robust focus on gender, following GEF policies and guidance.

This dedication entails integrating gender perspectives into project planning, acknowledging and addressing the needs and contributions of women, and facilitating access to relevant finance and resources. Essential stakeholders in the design and assessment of projects and programs include women, women’s groups, and gender experts, highlighting their pivotal role in these processes.

With a focus on integrated programs, inclusivity, and sustainable financing, the initiative reflects a collaborative effort to achieve lasting impact and promote environmental sustainability on a global scale. As nations come together to support these initiatives, the GEF paves the way for a more resilient and environmentally conscious future.

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