By Shi Yaobin, Vice Minister of Ministry of Finance, People's Republic of China
In 1991, the world came together, with hopes and expectations, to establish the Global Environment Facility to address global environment issues. In 2016, the GEF’s 25th Anniversary gives the world an opportune moment to both celebrate past achievements as well as identify opportunities and challenges ahead.
Over the past 25 years, the GEF has stood the test of time by leading progress that has been made in the sustainable development arena. Since its beginnings in 1991, the GEF has protected a large share of the earth's total surface and international water areas, and helped countries avoid C02 emissions. The GEF finance has supported climate-friendly technologies and disposed or cleaned up waste and pollutants. Today, the GEF is the world's largest public funder of environmental projects, and the financial mechanism for the Rio Conventions and other multilateral agreements. It is widely acknowledged that, in many ways, the GEF is needed more than ever for a more sustainable world.
Over the past 25 years, as a founding member, contributing country and recipient country of the Facility, China has carried out productive cooperation with the GEF. The GEF has to date supported 148 projects and provided over USD 1.14 billion as new and additional grants in China. These projects have covered a wide range of activities and scopes including new concepts and ideas, capacity building, new institutional and legal system development, business model innovation, advanced technology transfer, new financial mechanism initiative, and technology demonstration and scaling up. In addition to funding, the GEF has been introducing advanced concepts to China, increasing the country's capacity to implement international environmental conventions and raising public awareness on sustainable development. China's success in implementing GEF projects or programs has contributed to GEF's mission of maximum global environmental benefits. And we take pride in the fact that the GEF financed activities in China have been demonstrated as jewels in the GEF portfolio. The success in China also provides useful experience for other developing countries. For example, the PRC-GEF Partnership on Land Degradation in Dry Land Ecosystem Program has successfully introduced and developed the concepts and methodologies of integrated ecosystem management, which stands as a good showcase for areas in central Asia and Africa to combat land degradation.
Standing at a new starting point, the international community is working on a forward-looking and ambitious agenda on sustainable development. The GEF can play a substantial part in the implementation of this agenda by contributing to the protection of the health of the planet, from the climate to oceans, water, land, biodiversity and forests. "All things live in harmony and grow with nourishment". Chinese culture values harmony between human and nature and respects nature. Ecological endeavors will feature prominently in China's 13th Five-Year Plan. China will work hard to implement the vision of innovative, coordinated, green, open and inclusive development, which is consistent with the ardent aspiration for sustainable development of people all over the world. We are ready to continue to work with the GEF in a joint effort to pursue global sustainable development at a higher level.