Global Environment Facility (GEF)
  • Date submitted: 28 Oct 2011
  • Stakeholder type: United Nations & Other IGOs
  • Name: Global Environment Facility (GEF)
  • Submission Document: Download
Keywords: Development banks (1 hits),

Full Submission

Global Environment Facility
Input to the Compilation Document of the
United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20)
October 31, 2011

Contribution of the GEF to the Rio+20 Compilation Document

1. 1992 UNCED Original Agenda and the Institutional Framework for Sustainable Development (IFSD) Background

The community of nations came to Rio in 1992 with the conviction that the environment was inextricably linked to development. Rio concluded that urgent action was needed at the planetary scale to address the rapid and widespread loss of biological diversity, the rising threats posed by human-induced climate change, and increased insecurity faced by hundreds of millions of people due to land degradation and desertification.
By addressing priority global environmental concerns, the three Rio Conventions irrevocably introduced the development agenda to its third pillar, bringing it together with the social and economic agendas, under the banner of sustainable development.
This agenda remains as current today as it was 20 years ago, and much has been achieved since Rio. However, the original framework from the 1992 UNCED became progressively fragmented by virtue of the separate routes taken by the Rio accords. 20 years later, we have come to realize that biodiversity, climate change, and sustainable land management are integral parts of the same puzzle.

Proposed Text for the Outcomes Document

The challenges facing our planet have aggravated over the past two decades. Three of nine interlinked planetary boundaries vital for human well-being have been transgressed, and several others are on an unsustainable path. The solutions, however, are intertwined. The IFSD should be discussed at Rio+20 through the lens of the need to promote the re-integration of the building blocks of the green economy into a coherent, mutually-reinforcing and efficient framework. Experience has shown that while progress can be made via thematically-based international accords, the multi-faceted nature of the threats to planet?s life support systems requires more concerted and integrated efforts. Rio+20 should take this premise as a central tenet of its deliberations.

2. Financing of the Global Public Goods and the Global Environment Facility


While challenges have grown, it should be recognized that much has been achieved since Rio. In its capacity as a financial mechanism of the three Rio Conventions, $10 billion has been invested by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) alone, with $40 billion mobilized in co-financing. Through this investment, 2,600 projects in more than 165 countries were implemented aimed at the management, care, and restoration of our planet. These investments can now be felt throughout the developing world, and have laid the seeds for green economies to begin flourishing.
To date, the GEF remains the largest financial mechanism (for grant and non-grant instruments) supporting the Convention on Biological Diversity, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, and the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. The GEF also provides operational guidance and funding for international waters and the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. The GEF also operates two funds on behalf of the UNFCCC ? the Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF) and the Least Development Country Fund (LDCF) -- that together provided $ 420 million in grants to support developing countries in efforts to reduce vulnerability to climate change in the context of their national development. An inclusive governance structure of recipient and non-recipient countries has allowed the GEF to shape policies and programming in response to its recipient and donor countries, and to remain current. The GEF has evolved over the past 20 years by continuously building efficiency in the administrative, technical and financial processes required for enabling significant resources to reach developing countries and those with economies in transition. For example, responding to new opportunities, the GEF has become the secretariat to the Adaptation Fund, and more recently established a new fund ? the Nagoya Protocol Implementation Fund (NPIF) to pilot the implementation of the Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) arising from the utilization of genetic resources. Recognizing the need to build synergies amongst its different funding lines, the GEF has inaugurated an ambitious $1 billion funding program exploring the mutually reinforcing links between global benefits provided by forests to climate change mitigation, biodiversity and sustainable land management.
In this regard, the GEF has demonstrated flexibility in taking on board new challenges and modalities, while preserving the coherence of a unified financial mechanism. The GEF has also continuously evolved in response to scientific findings, including those emerging from global analyses financed by the GEF itself, such as the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and the International Assessment of Agriculture Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development. Two decades of experience as the prime financial mechanism dedicated to the protection of the global public goods has put to the test a pioneer governance framework, a unique set of institutional arrangements and the thematic mission of the GEF. This platform needs to be reinforced so as to face the growing challenges to the adequate stewardship of the global public goods.

Proposed Text for the Outcomes Document

As a financial mechanism, the GEF should remain a significant global funder of environmental projects in developing countries, by using the strengths of both the UN system and the Bretton Woods institutions, while also striving to foster greater ownership by recipient nations. The GEF should continue operating as a network that allows the use of the expertise and capacities residing in the multilateral Development banks and the UN agencies, anchored on a broad set of competencies unmatched by other financial mechanisms, including the ability to move growing sums of money. In parallel, the GEF should continue to be a pioneer and leader in providing direct access to national agencies with high fiduciary standards, thereby devolving responsibility and ownership of projects to developing countries.

3. Fragmentation of the International Finance Architecture and the Way Forward


The establishment of an array of multilateral environment agreements, soft law commitments and national policies, without due consideration to one another or to the broader international system, has resulted in an unbalanced and convoluted international architecture that lacks consistency and a clear logic.
This in turn has led to international environmental responsibilities being spread across many institutions with diluted, overlapping or, in many cases, with mandates at variance with one another. What is worse is that no single organization has the political authority or the expertise to exert political influence or to serve as a center of gravity for technical issues. Coupled with this fragmentation is the collection of independent secretariats to the numerous treaties and multilateral environmental agreements that are narrow in scope, and in many cases, based along issues and/or geographic areas. The proliferation of these agreements and treaties has placed an increasing burden on member states and Parties to meet their collective obligations and responsibilities in relation to the environment. The problem lies, firstly, in the weakness of institutions and their inability to implement the ambitious agenda of Rio and, secondly, in the lack of integration among the three pillars of sustainable development.
Trailing right behind this process, the international financial landscape now consists of a plethora of funds that were established with laudable objectives and that accumulated a wealth of experience -- but that now limp along with insufficient funding vis a vis the global sustainable development challenges. Currently, each fund has its own rules, befuddling low-capacity countries already struggling to assemble viable financial assistance packages. Introducing common norms would speak directly to the principles of the internationally-acclaimed Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness with all the funds aimed towards achieving the common good. The multiplication of funds ultimately penalizes the developing countries themselves as they strain their capacities to capture international funding, in addition to stimulating the emergence of perpetually anemic funding mechanisms. Fragmentation also increases capacity building needs of developing countries exponentially. We need to work on the opposite direction. The international community therefore has to deal with the current chaos and under-resourcing of the global environment finance system. Proposed Text for the Outcomes Document
The Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, together with its related processes, needs to be made operational by the donor community, with the full support and engagement of recipient countries. Existing funds need strengthening, regularity in funding flows, and reform of their governance processes towards more transparent and democratic systems. New and additional funding lines should flow through existing and strengthened mechanisms. Existing mechanisms must pay renewed attention to the real needs of recipient countries.

4. Building Blocks for a Green Economy: The Lessons from the GEF


The investment by the GEF and its partners over the past 20 years produced impressive returns, such as 734 million hectares of new and improved land and oceans dedicated to biodiversity conservation and sustainable use of biological resources, and the catalytic transfer of 30 climate-friendly technologies for energy efficiency, renewable energy, sustainable urban transport, and methane reduction, among other benefits. In this process, projects have mobilized additional investments, created enabling environments, pioneered innovative financial instruments, and promoted market-based mechanisms, leading to widespread adoption and dissemination of climate-friendly technologies. Collectively, this wealth of experience lays the foundation and the tools with which to push for the emergence of green economies.

Proposed Text for the Outcomes Document
It is critical to harvest the experiences gained by the GEF and other actors in sowing the seeds of the green economies through their support for activities over the last two decades. The fruits of these experiences need to be broadcast and upscaled throughout the world, along with the dissemination of supporting political, institutional and investment environments to initiate the shift towards green economies.

5. Suggestions for the Structure of the Document

The Rio+20 outcome document could convey three key messages: (1) Rationale for a green economy in the context of sustainable development and constraints, and opportunities for achieving such an ambitious goal with a central link to poverty eradication; (2) The international community?s resolve to moving towards enhanced institutional frameworks for sustainable development and a green economy; and (3) some reasonable approaches or way forward on the issue of financing and the institutional approaches to it.

Proposed text for the suggestions on the structure of the Rio+20 Document
The introductory part of the document should clarify the notion of green economy, its linkages with sustainable development and articulate why the green economy will help to eradicate poverty, open opportunities for economic growth, development and prosperity.
Progress made and remaining challenges should be highlighted, vis a vis key the objectives set out in the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation. Focus should be placed on the themes that are most relevant in the context of the objectives of Rio+20 (e.g. the Green Economy and the IFSD). This aspect is important to maintain some form of continuity in the international community?s approach to sustainable development over the years. Possible elements of an agreement on a green economy and poverty eradication can be included. Concrete and specific actions recommended on how to improve the institutional approaches at global, regional and national levels should be highlighted as well as specific means of implementation.

Contact: Gustavo Fonseca Head, Natural Resources Global Environment Facility Postal Address: 1818 H Street NW, P4-400, Washington DC 20433 Direct line: 202-458-4818; Cell: 202-725-0589
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