By Taro Aso, Minister of Finance, Japan
Since 1991, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) has been a definite front-runner in tackling global environmental issues, which need to be urgently addressed for the good of our planet. I would like to express my utmost appreciation of its great achievements throughout its 25 year-long endeavour.
Last December, the Paris Agreement was adopted at COP21 as the first-ever framework to bring all nations, developed and developing, together in a common cause. As it is about to come into effect, the knowledge and experience that the GEF has acquired through its support for developing countries will make a solid contribution to tackling climate change in the international community.
In 2010, the“Aichi Biodiversity Targets” were approved at the 10th Meeting of the Conference of the
Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity held in Japan. The GEF has enhanced its presence in supporting numerous biodiversity projects through providing grants and joint funding with other countries and international organisations. Its activities will greatly enhance efforts toward achieving the Aichi targets.
The GEF has addressed a wide range of areas besides climate change and biodiversity, including international waters, land degradation, chemicals and waste. The GEF 2020 - the new strategy developed under the strong leadership of Dr. Naoko Ishii, CEO and Chairperson of the GEF - demonstrates proactive investments in global environmental conservation, as well as innovative and scalable projects and programmes focusing on the underlying drivers of global environmental degradation and supporting coalitions that bring together partnerships of committed stakeholders, including governments and the private sector.
In particular, three Integrated Approach pilots, launched in line with the GEF 2020, aim to address some of these underlying drivers through a special focus on food security, urbanisation, and deforestation. This innovative approach has attracted considerable attention as an effort to address global issues that require cooperation amongst diversified stakeholders. Japan’s strong wish is that this pioneering initiative will make it possible to meet the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the targets of the Paris Agreement.
Obviously, one of the GEF’s advantages is its experience and expertise in tackling a wide variety of global environment issues. However, its staff members’ dedication and passion are even more important, though it is small compared to other international organisations, and this needs to be emphasized. These qualities allow the GEF to identify the underlying drivers of environmental degradation and to propose innovative and proactive approaches which go beyond short-sighted solutions – and increase its capability, and will enable it to realise even greater achievements in the future.
Last but certainly not least, the GEF's unique role is to tackle the issue of sustainability of the “Global Commons”, our planet’s finite environmental resources. Finding solutions for this crucial issue will enable us to provide a sustainable future for our children. Again, Japan congratulates the GEF on its 25th anniversary and expresses support for its noble mission for our globe.