July 12 2016.
Naoko Ishii, GEF CEO and Chairperson, wrapped up a five-day visit to China today that culminated with the 5th GEF China Project Management Meeting in Beijing. Addressing the meeting, a national dialogue for stakeholders involved in GEF projects and programs in China, Ishii highlighted the long and productive relationship.
“China is very important to the GEF. China is a founding member, the largest recipient of GEF financing, and an important and active donor. Perhaps most importantly, China is a trusted and valued partner,” said Ishii. “The relationship between China and the GEF has been a long and fruitful one – more than $1 billion in 20 years – and many of the GEF-financed activities in China are the stars in the GEF portfolio – innovative, risk taking and aiming for scale-up.”
“I am very proud of what the GEF has done in China, and in many ways GEF’s projects in China can be considered the jewels of the GEF’s global portfolio,” she said.
In addition to being the year when the GEF celebrates its 25th anniversary, 2016 is also the first year of implementation of the two major global agreements that were reached last year: the Sustainable Development Goals that were adopted in September in New York, and the Paris Climate Agreement in December.
These agreements are built on the recognition that the health of the global commons—our oceans, forests, land, biodiversity, and our climate system—are fundamental to our future development prospects.
In her speech to the national dialogue meeting, Ishii said, “At this critical juncture for the world, the GEF and China need to work together to push this important agenda forward.
In a message celebrating the GEF’s 25th Anniversary, Shi Yaobin, China’s Vice Minister in the Ministry of Finance, wrote: “The GEF has to date supported 148 projects and provided over $1.14 billion as new and additional grants in China. Projects have covered a wide range of activities and scope including new concepts and ideas, capacity building, new institutional and legal system development, advanced technology transfer, and scaling up.”
“Standing at a new starting point, the international community is working on a forward-looking and ambitious agenda on Sustainable Development”, he continued. "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 climate to oceans, water, land biodiversity and forests.”
In 2015, the GEF-China partnership opened a new chapter when FECO, an institution affiliated to the Ministry of Environmental Protection of China (MEP), became a GEF project agency. FECO, China’s Foreign Economic Cooperation Office, was established in 1989 to manage projects funds in cooperation with international organizations and implement multilateral environmental agreements. By 2015, FECO had executed 38 national projects, a quarter of the country's total, receiving $270 million in grants from the GEF and leveraging over $1 billion in additional resources.
More recently, in GEF-6, China was a key catalyst for the GEF’s Sustainable Cities Program. Cities are not only important players for global sustainability, they are also great vehicles for global knowledge sharing. In particular, Chinese cities have extensive experiences and knowledge to share and exchange with the rest of the world. The Sustainable Cities program today includes more than 25 cities in 11 countries, in which China is the largest partner.
“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,” said Vice-Minister Yaobin. “We are ready to continue to work with the GEF in a joint effort to pursue sustainable development at a higher level,” he said.
During her visit to China, the GEF CEO toured the Cishui river project in Guizhou province. She also spoke at various events covering topics from green bonds and sustainable infrastructure to south-south cooperation on climate change, and attended the Eco Forum Global Annual Conference in Guiyang.