International business leaders to provide expertise and support toward market-based environmental innovation in developing countries

Washington, DC, April 8, 2009 – The GEF Earth Fund Board, a private sector advisory group to the GEF Council designed to help international financial institutions strengthen the engagement of business in delivering global environmental benefits to the world’s most vulnerable, met today for the first time.

The members, which include top leaders from the banking, manufacturing and commodities sectors will be giving strategic guidance to the Global Environmental Facility, the world’s largest multilateral environmental fund on innovative financial investments aimed at building sustainable development.

The GEF is working with IFC, part of the World Bank Group, to help move this agenda forward; the two parties have already designated $50 million and $10 million to the fund, respectively with more investment expected in the coming months. Since it was first launched last year, the fund has attracted several partners and is expected to grow to as much as $150 million in its first round of financing through additional contributions from private sector companies, foundations, civil society, and other development agencies.

To maximize its impact, the fund will use a wide array of financial instruments, including grants, soft loans, and equity participation that reward environmental innovation in areas of strategic importance to the GEF, such as clean energies, water treatment, and second generation biofuels .

The inaugural members of the board include: Claude Jouven, former CEO of the French subsidiary of Citicorp, and now a board member of the Social Investment Forum, an organization that engages financial institutions in sustainable development practices; Hassan Lamrani Karim, the CEO of Safari Group, one of North Africa’s largest corporate conglomerates, and Yue Zhang, CEO of the Broad Air Conditioning Co. a Chinese-based energy manufacturing firm that is a leading exporter to over 40 countries.

About the GEF
The GEF unites 178 countries in partnership with international institutions, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and the private sector to address global environmental issues while supporting national sustainable development initiatives. Today the GEF is the largest funder of projects to improve the global environment. The GEF provides grants for projects related to biodiversity, climate change, international waters, land degradation, the ozone layer, and persistent organic pollutants.

Since 1991, GEF has achieved a strong track record with developing countries and countries with economies in transition, providing $8.3 billion in grants and leveraging $33.7 billion in co-financing for over 2,200 projects in over 165 countries. For more information, visit  

About IFC
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, creates opportunity for people to escape poverty and improve their lives. We foster sustainable economic growth in developing countries by supporting private sector development, mobilizing private capital, and providing advisory and risk mitigation services to businesses and governments. Our new investments totaled $16.2 billion in fiscal 2008, a 34 percent increase over the previous year. For more information, visit

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