News

GEF CEO Statement on the IPBES Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services

May 6, 2019

In GEF-7 over $US1 billion has been allocated to biodiversity protection. But, it’s increasingly evident that most damage takes place outside protected areas. Photo: Elena Prosvirova
In GEF-7 over $US1 billion has been allocated to biodiversity protection. But, it’s increasingly evident that most damage takes place outside protected areas. Photo: Elena Prosvirova/Shutterstock

Naoko Ishii, Monday May 6, 2019

The new report from the Intergovernmental Panel for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, or IPBES, sends a crystal-clear message about life on Earth, and what we stand to lose if we don’t act now.

The report paints an alarming picture of species extinctions, wildlife population declines, habitat loss and depletion of ecosystem services − adding to the existing wealth of evidence that we are degrading our global commons at a dramatic and unsustainable rate.

There is still time to reverse this decline. But to do that, we must radically change the way we live, including how we use energy to power our societies, grow our food, and manage our waste.   

We need a new way of doing business. We must build new coalitions and partnerships to transform the key economic systems that support how we eat, how we move and how we produce and consume.

Each of us has a role to play in bringing about this transformational change, and I’m pleased to add my name today to the #Call4Nature campaign.

Going forward, the Global Environment Facility will continue to support the conservation of some of the most biologically diverse places on Earth but will do more to address the drivers of biodiversity loss. In our new four-year funding cycle, GEF-7, over $US1 billion has been allocated to biodiversity protection. But, it’s increasingly evident that most damage takes place outside protected areas.

To be successful, we must attack the problem much more from a systems perspective. And, the food system is one of the most important. Food production today is putting enormous strain on Earth’s biodiversity and other global commons like clean air, healthy forests, land, oceans and a stable climate.

As shown in the recent EAT-Lancet report, without a radical transformation of the food system, neither the Sustainable Development Goals nor the Paris Climate Agreement targets will be achievable.

It is positive that a growing number of action-oriented, multi-stakeholder platforms focusing on the food system are now emerging, like the Tropical Forest Alliance, the Food and Land Use Coalition and others.

The GEF’s new Food, Land Use and Restoration (FOLUR) Impact programthe single largest GEF-7 program, is seeking to help catalyze change by leveraging these initiatives. FOLUR focuses on (i) strengthening land use planning; (ii) taking a whole-of-landscape approach in specific jurisdictions that explicitly seek to balance production and protection objectives; and (iii) focusing on specific agricultural commodity value chains that have an outsized impact on the global environment, like soybeans, cattle, palm oil, rice and others.

FOLUR recognizes that to be successful all stakeholders need to be engaged, including local and national governments, science and planners, and not least the private sector from small-scale local producers to global market leaders.

Without such action we will not be able to respond to challenges laid bare in today’s IPBES report.