We are at a defining moment in time.
The recent IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C confirmed unequivocally that we are already seeing negative impacts of climate change: sea level rise and more extreme droughts and storms. The negative impacts often hit the poor and vulnerable the most—exactly those who have contributed the least to the problem in the first place.
The IPCC Report also illustrates that unfortunately we are not even close to being on track to limit warming to 1.5° C. Neither are we on track to deliver on the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement.
However, the IPCC Report also provides hope by illustrating that it is possible for us to limit warming to 1.5°C.
We must recognize that doing so will require an urgent and unprecedented transformation in all aspects of our economies between now and 2030, a transformation that enables us to cut current greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030.
The challenge is compounded by the fact that in the same timespan we will see another one billion people added to the global population, more than 1.5 billion additional middle-class consumers, and a 50% increase in global economic output.
Our only chance is to shift the world to a different investment and growth path. We need a new growth story for the 21st century, and for that we must fundamentally transform our food, urban, and energy systems, and move to a circular economy.
To help catalyze this transformation, the strategy for our new four-year investment cycle (known as GEF-7) is explicitly focused on these key systems. The single largest program in GEF-7 focuses on food and land-use transformation, where there is enormous potential for both climate mitigation and adaptation, as well as for safeguarding other elements of the global commons, like land, water, forests, and biodiversity.
We are also enhancing our support for sustainable cities, recognizing that urban planning decisions today have huge implications for low-carbon and resilient development tomorrow. More broadly, we will deploy the GEF’s scarce financial resources where they can be most helpful all stakeholders—governments, businesses, communities, researchers—to accelerate climate action.
Only by building the broadest possible coalition can we hope to achieve our ambitions to safeguard the global commons.
Naoko Ishii, CEO and Chairperson, Global Environment Facility