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The Global Platform for Sustainable Cities, or GPSC, announced an important development during their 2nd annual conference this week: India is establishing its own platform for sustainable cities, to mirror the expanding initiative.

India’s announcement at the conference – attended by 200 mayors and other municipal officials, academics, and business leaders –marks significant progress for the platform, established only last year in Singapore.

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Maps of the Brazilian Amazon in 2000 and 2010 show unmistakable signs of dramatic change. Indigenous lands and several categories of protected areas now occupy millions of hectares, forming a consolidated landscape of conservation. But it might not have been so.

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In the last two years something incredibly positive has happened. The often-criticised United Nations has given the world the biggest gift: the Sustainable Development Goals. The Global Goals have moved the conversation about sustainability from “why?” to “how?”. The facts are incontrovertible – we must act, now – and the Goals lay out the agenda. Working out how to find solutions for the sustainability challenges of energy, cities, food systems, waste, water and mobility is now on everyone’s agenda.  

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Indigenous people are disproportionately represented among the destitute; they constitute approximately five per cent of the world's population, but make up 15 per cent of the world's poor. The majority of them have historically faced social exclusion and marginalisation. Their levels of access to adequate health and education services are well below national averages. And they are especially vulnerable to the consequences of environmental degradation.

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The 2nd replenishment meeting of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Trust Fund (GEF-7) was held earlier this month in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, discussing the future direction of the GEF to tackle the drivers of environmental degradation.

The two-day meeting opened October 4 with a keynote address by Dr. Gemedo Dalle, Minister of the Environment for Ethiopia, who highlighted his country’s sustainable development plans, and “commitment to support the vison and objectives of the GEF”. 

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The Global Environment Facility is a knowledge-based organization in which evaluation is central to accountability, results and learning. For it to be truly useful, it must respond to changes both in the external landscape in which the Facility operates and in internal modus operandi. During the Facility’s 7th Replenishment process, the Independent Evaluation Office is completing its sixth Comprehensive Evaluation under the theme ‘the Global Environment Facility in the Changing Landscape of Environmental Finance’.

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More than just a financial mechanism or a partnership agreement, the Global Environment Facility sits at the very heart of global action to protect and restore our environment. This edition of Our Planet looks at the work of the Facility, which for more than a quarter century has driven catalytic change, enabling progress on the world’s most pressing environmental challenges.

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The Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992 was an historic moment for our planet, producing the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Convention on Biological Diversity in addition to the Rio Declaration. Bhutan, under the far-sighted leadership of our monarchs, was one of the early countries to welcome and support both agreements to help tackle the world's most pressing environmental problems.

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Many may think us an unlikely pair – Republican Representative from Nebraska, in the heartland of America, and a progressive Democratic Senator from Rhode Island, the Ocean State. However, we have come together as Co-Chairs in the United States Congressional International Conservation Caucus because we share a conviction that good natural resource management is fundamental to building a strong economy, bolstering national security, and protecting public health.

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As stretch targets for the world, the Sustainable Development Goals offer a game plan for harmonizing the demands of a fast-growing human population with a dwindling finite natural resource base. Business, government and civil society need to work together in radically new ways to meet them.

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