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Forests are integral to our lives in complex ways that we are only beginning to understand. From reducing stress to carbon sequestering and climate regulation, they play a large role in our health and our planet’s health.

On International Women’s Day, GEF is celebrating women’s unique role in and contribution to safeguarding the global environment.

Addressing inequalities in areas like control over natural resources and participation in decision-making contribute to greater gender equality, help women play more substantial roles in environmental sustainability, and ultimately strengthen environmental projects.

“My sister is the one who got the finance degree and worked on Wall Street. When I finished school, I moved to Borneo to save the rainforests and orangutans.”

I was joking at a recent meeting on financing of commodities supply chains organized by the GEF’s Good Growth Partnership (GGP). It was a gathering on sustainable forestry and other topics well within my area of technical expertise but the finance terminology being thrown around made me feel out of my depth.  

Lowland and swamp forests, forest savannas, and the mighty Congo river make up the 500 million acres of the Congo Basin, the second largest tropical rainforest on the planet. When standing below the trees, the vaulted canopy of leaves blocks out most of the sunlight and traps moisture making a trek along the forest floor dark as night, and very wet.

The world’s first-ever Virtual Climate Summit will take place tomorrow, November 22, to renew political momentum in tackling climate change.

Our actions today have never had a bigger impact on our future than they do now. Under this premise the Our Ocean Conference 2018 was held in Bali this week to further global action on maintaining the sustainability of our oceans. Millions of people depend on ocean for their lives and livelihoods. But the future of the planet itself is also directly dependent on its health, which is showing unprecedented strain from the impact of human activities.

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) faces a demanding yet seemingly attainable task: to help countries foster a transformation in how individuals, communities, and businesses use and protect the natural word. But nothing less will suffice if we are to meet pressing environmental challenges and safeguard the global commons.

Today, on World Food Day, the global community is mobilizing to reach a Zero Hunger world. With a changing climate, inequality, and rapid population growth the challenges we face on the way seem insurmountable. However, with governments, private sector and individuals working together, we can achieve a world with enough food and water for everyone in a way that does not pollute rivers, turn forests into grazing fields, increase CO2 emissions, and cause species to go extinct.

Burkina Faso, a landlocked country in the West African Sahel, includes sparse and dry forests, woodlands, wooded and shrub savannas, and a large desert area to the North. The country relies heavily on agriculture, yet faces shrinking arable land and increasing soil degradation. Enhancing factors such as climate change and rising demand for land and natural resources in general are creating a downward cycle from which forest degradation appears as one of the particularly challenging consequences.

This autumn, the IPCC will publish its much-awaited special report on global warming of 1.5 degrees centigrade. For the first time, the world will have a clear scientific view of the rate and scale of emissions reduction is required if we are to avoid runaway climate change. It is expected to set out the systemic change needed to avoid the associated sea level rise, extreme weather, shocks to our food supplies and water, and setbacks in living standards if we fail to constrain atmospheric pollution.

Cities are one of the systems that need to be transformed.