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GEF in 2019: Year in review

December 23, 2019

Photo: Dudarev Mikhail/Shutterstock

As 2019 draws to a close, we are looking back on an important year for the Global Environment Facility and looking forward to the 2020 Super Year with its hopes of progress for nature and people, including new international agreements on oceans, biodiversity, and climate change.

This was a year of immense challenges for the international environment: leading scientists provided ever-worsening prognoses of the health of the planet, fires burned in the Amazon and elsewhere, and countries failed to make enough headway toward joint climate action.

At the same time, 2019 heralded major advances in public awareness about climate change, deforestation, biodiversity loss, plastic pollution, and the need to invest in a more circular and more sustainable economy, prompting critically-needed changes in consumer and investment behavior. It is increasingly evident that business risk perceptions are changing, and a growing number of action-oriented, multi-stakeholder platforms focusing on the food system and other key areas are now emerging.

In this context, the GEF is focused on action -- helping governments, civil society, the private sector, and other stakeholders chart a path toward a healthier planet. The GEF Council approved its biggest-ever work program in June, and approved innovative programs for marine conservation, indigenous peoples, and sustainable cities in December, under the latest four-year investment cycle known as GEF-7. Donors contributed more resources to the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) to help the poorest countries adapt the effects of global warming in agriculture, fisheries, and other areas. And the GEF CEO and Chairperson Naoko Ishii led international efforts to address the drivers of global environmental degradation through initiatives like the Global Commons Alliance and the Global Commission on Adaptation, and through the GEF’s Impact Programs on food and land use, sustainable forest management, and sustainable cities.

Our interactive timeline below features these and other important highlights of 2019.