By Caroline Leclerc, GEF Council Member, Canada
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the GEF, an important milestone in sustainable development, which follows on the significant achievements of 2015, specifically the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Climate Agreement. The GEF’s anniversary is an opportunity to reflect on the GEF’s critical role in tackling the planet’s most pressing environmental issues, and progress to date advancing sustainable development. Our collective success is due, in part, to the GEF’s success.
On its anniversary, it is important we celebrate the GEF’s solid track record in achieving results, bringing together a diverse range of partners and mobilizing resources. To date, the GEF has created or effectively managed over 3,300 protected areas covering 860 million hectares; protected 46 river and lake basins, 8 ground water basins, and 23 of the planet's 64 large marine ecosystems; reduced 2.7 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions; and, brought 103 million hectares under sustainable land management, benefiting more than 50 million smallholders. The GEF is indeed an invaluable asset to addressing key global environmental issues.
Still, much more needs to be done to protect the environment, and we must take action now. Together we must increase our efforts to: improve the health and economic well-being of global citizens, including women and youth; reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase climate resilience; and, enhance biodiversity and ecosystem preservation. These are priorities for Canada, and they are critical to eradicating poverty and ensuring prosperity for all, especially women and girls.
Canada is committed to the global effort to combat climate change, and is providing an historic $2.65 billion in climate finance to support investments in developing countries. This includes a doubling of our support to the GEF’s Least Developed Countries Fund, to help address the urgent and immediate adaptation needs of the poorest and most vulnerable.
Canada and the GEF share a close, long-term partnership. Canada is amongst its largest donors, with a commitment of US$875 million to date. A number of Canadians have also served the GEF in various capacities, including Mr. Leonard Good, the former President of the Canadian International Development Agency, who served as CEO and Chairperson from 2003 to 2006.
Going forward, Canada will continue to do its part, in partnership with the GEF and others, to tackle global environmental challenges, including through the implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals.