Biodiversity In Action, GEF photo exhibit at the U.S. Senate

September 10, 2009

10 SEPTEMBER 2009 | Washington DC – On September 9, 2009 a congressional reception opened the photo exhibit “Biodiversity In Action” organized by the GEF and the ICCF at the US Senate Russell Rotonda, on display until Friday September 11, in Washington DC.

The event featured US Senator Sam Brownback, David Barron, President of ICCF (International Conservation Caucus Foundation) and Monique Barbut, GEF CEO, all of them standing by the common goal of protecting biodiversity

The exhibit presents stunning photographs of GEF-funded environmental projects around the world that aim to protect the Earth’s biological diversity and improve the livelihood of those who depend on it. "In highlighting the work of the GEF before our U.S. Congressional audience, the International Conservation Caucus Foundation illustrates the unparalleled leverage that American investment achieves in global conservation by partnering with other nations through the GEF partnership. ICCF firmly believes in market principles including that of seeking a sound return on investment. GEF offers us a far greater "bang for the buck" than if we were operating alone. Monique Barbut and her professional team are to be congratulated for a job well done”, said David Barron, President of ICCF.

Biodiversity is under heavy threat and its loss is considered one of the most critical current challenges to humankind. Of all environmental ills, biodiversity loss is the only one likely to be irreversible. Most alarming is that current rates of extinction are up to 1,000 times higher than any previous extinction rate in history. Sixty percent of the 24 main ecosystem services are currently being degraded to meet rapidly growing demands for food, fresh water, timber, fiber, and fuel. The impact on human survival may be devastating. For example, fish have provided more than 2.6 billion people with at least 20 percent of their average per capita animal protein intake, yet over 60 percent of all fisheries have already been overexploited, and most of those that remain are on unsustainable paths.

As the financial mechanism for the UN convention on biological diversity, one of our key roles is to catalyze partnerships among governments, civil society, and private sector groups” said Monique Barbut, “Only together can we achieve what this convention sets out to do: that is to dramatically reduce biodiversity loss at the global, regional, and local levels as a way to alleviate poverty to the benefit of all life on Earth.

Five are the projects being presented in the Senate:
• Costa Rica: Creating incentives to refrain from logging—paying for environmental services instead
• Brazil: Protecting the biological treasures of the Amazon—the biggest joint initiative for the conservation of tropical forests in history
• South Africa: Clearing of alien species—creating a floral kingdom
• Jordan: Building alternative businesses for Bedouins— protecting a nature reserve’s endangered resources
• Black Sea and Danube River Basin: Investing in conservation—cleaning up and protecting a dying ecosystem.

These projects provide only a glimpse of the global efforts currently underway to protect biological diversity in the context of local economic development.

As the largest funder of projects to protect the global environment, the GEF has invested in over 1,600 protected areas, covering an area equivalent to Greenland and Mongolia combined. The GEF has provided more than $1.56 billion to fund protected areas, leveraging an additional $4.15 billion in cofinancing from project partners. Using market-based approaches such as payments for ecosystem services, the GEF ensures that efforts to protect the environment support local economic development.