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New global biodiversity fund launched at GEF Assembly

Ahmed Hussen, Co-Chair of Seventh GEF Assembly and Canada’s Minister of International Development. PHOTO/IISD/ENB

By PATRICK MAYOYO

newshub@eyewitness.africa

In good news for nature in a challenging moment, representatives of 185 countries agreed at the Global Environment Facility’s Seventh Assembly in Canada to launch an innovative new fund for biodiversity that will attract funding from governments, philanthropy, and the private sector.

The new Global Biodiversity Framework Fund (GBFF) has been designed to mobilize and accelerate investment in the conservation and sustainability of wild species and ecosystems, whose health is under threat from wildfires, flooding, extreme weather, and human activity including urban sprawl.

“Countries have come together in Vancouver to turn things around for the health of the planet and its people. This is a hugely positive moment that will be remembered far into the future. We have shown at the Seventh GEF Assembly that even in difficult conditions – with wildfire smoke as our backdrop – we can move forward to build a more biodiverse planet for everyone’s benefit,” said Carlos Manuel Rodríguez, CEO and Chairperson of the Global Environment Facility.

The new fund was ratified and launched at the GEF Assembly in Vancouver, where two countries announced initial contributions to start its capitalization. This included 200 million Canadian dollars from Canada and 10 million pounds from the United Kingdom.

The GEF Assembly has brought together 1,500 people from around the world, including environmental leaders and managers from government, business, academia, and civil society, including Indigenous Peoples, women, and young people.

The once-every-four-year gathering is taking place during a record wildfire season in British Columbia and at the start of what is expected to be a record hurricane season in North America, fueled by record Pacific and Atlantic ocean temperatures.

“Biodiversity is the critical foundation of our well-being and the health of our planet. The new Global Biodiversity Framework Fund will play a key role in addressing biodiversity loss,” Ahmed Hussen, Canada’s Minister of International Development said.

Hussen said Canada is making a significant contribution to the new fund and continuing to show its support for the GEF’s eighth replenishment to ensure the protection of planet’s biodiversity for generations to come.

Carlos Manuel Rodríguez, GEF CEO and Chairperson. PHOTO/IISD/ENB

“It (Fund) will address biodiversity loss in developing countries, where the impacts of nature loss are highest; it will address it in a gender-responsive manner, including through cross-sectoral partnerships; it will address it in collaboration with Indigenous Peoples, the original guardians of the lands and seas,” he noted.

The GBFF’s ratification came eight months after the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity agreed on a historic set of global biodiversity goals known as the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, and decided to set up a new GEF-managed fund to support its implementation.

The GEF is a family of funds supporting developing countries’ action on inter-related environmental challenges including biodiversity loss, climate change, and pollution. In June, the GEF Council approved the arrangements to establish the fund during a meeting in Brazil.

The contributions announced in Vancouver will support action towards halting and reversing biodiversity loss by 2030 and putting nature on a recovery path by 2050.

“We are at a pivotal time of unprecedented environmental challenges as the world is being confronted by the triple crises of climate change, pollution, and biodiversity loss. The urgency of a global response has never been greater,” Steven Guilbeault, Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change said.

Guilbeault said over the last eight months, since COP15, GEF members have seen outstanding collaboration between countries and international partners, and there is need to keep the momentum going.

“Canada’s longstanding partnership with the GEF is central to our efforts and underscores our shared commitment to collaboration and climate action,” he said.

Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Canada, announces an initial contribution to the GBFF. PHOTO/IISD/ENB

United Kingdom Nature Minister Trudy Harrison, as the world confront the critical challenge of halting and reversing biodiversity loss around, working together has never been more important.

“Our initial contribution to the Global Biodiversity Framework Fund showcases the United Kingdom’s ongoing dedication to protecting our planet’s natural diversity – and through vital international cooperation we are paving the way for a more sustainable future for our planet,” Harrison said.

The new fund will mobilize and disburse new and additional resources from public, private, and philanthropic sources, with a focus on the sustainability of biodiversity and ecosystems.

As much as 20 percent of its resources will support Indigenous-led initiatives to protect and conserve biodiversity. It will also prioritize support for Small Island Developing States and Least Developed Countries, which will receive more than a third of the fund’s resources.

“The creation of this fund and its commitment to supporting Indigenous Peoples and local communities is an important and clear recognition of the fundamental role they have had for generations protecting biodiversity,” Lucy Mulenkei, Co-Chair of the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity said.

Mulenkei GEF members will only achieve the shared vision of a healthy planet and healthy people with collective, inclusive actions, and a human rights approach where they all hold hands together.

“We welcome the ratification and launch of the fund. We also welcome the contributions from donors which will facilitate the early operationalization of the fund in advance of COP16,” David Cooper, Acting Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity said.

Cooper said the establishment of the ne Fund shows the determination of the world community to implement the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, and shows that the world is moving from agreement to action.

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