By Mrs. Irena Majcen, Minister for the Environment and Spatial Planning, Republic of Slovenia
Like the GEF, Slovenia is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. As in our own lives, the occasion of this important anniversary is one where doing some evaluation, inventory or review of the past and making plans for the future - or for the next 25 years – cannot be avoided.
At first, Slovenia was a beneficiary of GEF funds: we are proud of the environmental projects we accomplished together. As the nation progressed step by step in its statehood and economic development, it turned from being a beneficiary to a contributing country after 10 years of GEF membership. We are happy that, as a result, we can help other countries in the way that we were ourselves once assisted.
Slovenia is not a big country in the size of its territory or population but it has a big heart. At the right moment its people knew what they had to do to make a better future - and were able to do it in the right way. Its contribution cannot be at the same level as those of bigger, richer countries. But I am convinced that we have to preserve the variety of donors within GEF because it is important not just that we collect enough resources but that as many countries as possible who qualify for donor status take up the challenge and provide an opportunity to other nations for sustainable development. This at the same time enables their people to express their solidarity and enable them better to understand how – now more than ever before our world is interconnected and interdependent. We cannot have clean air, a healthy environment and sustainable development in one part of our planet while neglecting all the rest.
Such is the mission and role of the GEF: to collect proper funds for sustainable development and a clean environment globally because we all have only this one planet Earth and it is our duty to preserve it for generations to come.