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The Global Environment Facility was created to protect the global commons, and funds projects to address climate change, biodiversity loss, land degradation, sustainable forestry, international waters, and chemicals in more than 170 countries. Since 1991, it has provided $17.6 billion in grants and mobilized an additional $88.6 billion in financing for more than 4,453 projects.

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Sustainable development is thirty years old. It was born in 1987 with the release of the “Our Common Future” report, which declared: “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

There has been some progress since that time, but millions of children still become ill from dirty air and dirty water, tens of millions of people are displaced by disasters, and climate change threatens to undo the gains we have made against poverty. It’s clear there is more work to do.

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We stand at a defining moment for the future of the planet and human well-being. Our global commons – the land, seas and atmosphere we share, and the ecosystems they host – are under severe threat from ever more powerful human activities.

Several planetary boundaries, within which human society has become established and thrives, have already been transgressed as we have taken the global commons for granted. On this trajectory, the threat – not just to the environment but to global aspirations for economic growth, prosperity, jobs and security – risks escalating out of control.

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Growing up in Japan in the wake of mass mercury poisoning I learned the hard lesson that there is no distance great enough to put between this heavy metal and us. The tragedy unfolded in my country in 1956 after a chemical plant discharged wastewater containing mercury into the bay facing Minamata City. The resulting mercury poisoning took the lives of thousands of people: thousands more are still living with the consequences.

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“…With the knowledge we are gaining, we will become better land and natural resource managers, because we’re understanding how we need to treat our land, and the plants and animals on it.”

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The Meloy Fund, funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and a first-of-its-kind public-private partnership has been launched with a first close of US $10 million.

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From July 25-27, the GEF Gender Partnership gathered experts from thirty international and civil society organizations to provide ideas on how to mainstream gender into GEF-7 programming. It also provided feedback on the forthcoming policy on Gender Equality which tries to maximize opportunities for promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment in its programs and projects.