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Asha Bobb-Semple is an Analyst with the Global Environment Facility’s land degradation focal area, and works with cross-cutting global programs related to food systems, commodities, land use, and drylands. In an interview, she reflected on her career path that has led her from Jamaica’s watersheds to the landscapes of Central Asia in support of a better tomorrow. 

When did you first become interested in environmental issues?

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Milena Gonzalez Vasquez is a Global Environment Facility Climate Change Specialist. In an interview, she shared how her background in engineering prepared her for a career helping countries transform their energy systems, protect their forests, and find other solutions to avert a climate change crisis.

What is your role at the GEF?

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As Manager of the Global Environment Facility’s Programs Unit, Claude Gascon oversees a team of experts working to help developing countries tackle biodiversity loss, climate change, chemicals and waste management, land degradation, ocean pollution, and the drivers of these overlapping threats. In an interview, he shared how a fascination and love for nature led him to this international role and reflected on what makes the GEF special as a place to work.

What is your role at the GEF?

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Clara Baringo Fonseca is a biologist and Senior Analyst for the GEF-supported Brazilian Biodiversity Information System (Sistema de Informação sobre a Biodiversidade Brasileira – SiBBr). In an interview, she reflected on the power of data to inform decision-making about biodiversity protection and the value of field work to connect with and learn from traditional communities.

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Over Naoko Ishii’s eight years as CEO and Chairperson, the Global Environment Facility has dramatically shifted its focus to tackle the root causes of environmental degradation instead of just their symptoms.

As the former Japanese Deputy Finance Minister nears the end of her tenure, several of the GEF’s key partners came together to discuss how the international community can learn from and build on this drive for systems change at a critical time for a world in crisis.

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Elodia Castillo Vásquez is the Mayor of the Mayan town of Ch'orti, in Guatemala, where the community is working with support from the GEF Small Grants Programme to safeguard water sources, plant trees, improve soil quality, and help natural ecosystems regenerate. In an interview, she reflected on the links between social justice and environmental stewardship, and shared how the sustainable management of natural resources is helping bolster livelihoods in her community.

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As a child in East Germany, Ulrich Apel collected pictures of landscapes around the world, never expecting to spend his career working to restore and protect them. In an interview, he shared lessons from his efforts to reverse land degradation and empower local communities through the GEF’s Drylands Impact Program.

When did you start to become interested in global environmental issues?

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Faris Khader is a UNDP Regional Technical Specialist for Climate Change, based in Addis Ababa. In an interview, he shared lessons and insights from his work expanding access to off-grid renewable energy through the GEF-supported Africa Mini-grids Program. 

What are mini-grids and why are they important?

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Desertification, land degradation, and drought affect soils, vegetation, and water, increase greenhouse gas emissions, and threaten vulnerable populations due to less agricultural productivity and food production. The Global Environment Facility and its partners have been helping countries across sub-Saharan Africa tackle these interwoven challenges in an integrated way through the Resilient Food Systems program, with the goal of promoting greater resilience and more sustainable agricultural and food production.

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Alejandro Anganuzzi is Global Coordinator of the Common Oceans ABNJ Tuna Project, an FAO-managed and GEF-supported Common Oceans program, which aims to promote sustainable decision-making around both fisheries and conservation in areas beyond national jurisdiction.

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