How the GEF is targeting biodiversity and habitat loss
There are now more than 8 billion people on Earth – more than twice as many as in 1970.
As people have used more and more land and sea resources for food and shelter, millions of hectares of forest and natural ecosystems have been destroyed and wildlife populations have collapsed – by 69 percent on average over the same period.
These trends underscore a critical reality: halting biodiversity loss will require significant and wide-ranging changes.
“Protecting wild species is not just about the care of individual animals. We need to work purposefully across governments and industries to sustain diverse ecosystems and to lessen our footprint on the natural world,” said Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, Chairperson and CEO of the Global Environment Facility.
“The GEF has been working for decades with biodiversity at the core of our efforts to address environmental challenges of all types – from land degradation to chemical pollution to climate change. A healthy planet is a biodiverse planet, and this is our moment to make investments supported by coherent policies that take us in that direction.”
Established on the eve of the 1992 Earth Summit, the GEF is the world’s largest funder of efforts to ensure the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. Most of its record $5.33 billion replenishment for the 2022-2026 period will support efforts to conserve natural ecosystems and biodiversity through systemically addressing the drivers of environmental degradation.
Biodiversity was already the largest focal area in the GEF portfolio, but the proportion of funds dedicated to biodiversity for the next four years has risen to 60 percent, factoring in programs and projects that offer indirect support for the goals of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.
In the GEF-8 funding period, biodiversity financing will flow to projects in developing countries focused on improving the conservation, sustainable use, and restoration of natural ecosystems.
Much of this support will go to initiatives targeting the drivers of biodiversity loss across landscapes and seascapes, and that mainstream biodiversity concerns into policies, plans, and public and private sector investments. It will be delivered in part through 11 integrated programs providing countries with support across diverse areas including food systems, forest management, wildlife conservation, ecosystem restoration, green infrastructure, pollution management, sustainable cities, and specific challenges faced by Small Island Developing States and coastal ecosystems.
Additional, targeted support is also being provided by the GEF for developing countries as they prepare to implement a new post-2020 global biodiversity framework, expected to be finalized at the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP15) of the Convention on Biological Diversity in Montreal. The GEF is the financial mechanism for the Convention on Biological Diversity.
This has included early action grants to help countries begin revisions of national biodiversity strategies, assess policy and monitoring frameworks, and identify finance needs. In addition, the GEF has initiated support to help developing countries develop biodiversity finance plans, including through the mobilization of domestic resources.
Beyond the new global biodiversity framework, over the coming years the GEF will also continue to support countries’ implementation of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-sharing.
It will also focus on the development of innovative and blended finance solutions for nature, building on past efforts including the launch of the Wildlife Conservation Bond, the Seychelles’ sovereign blue bond, and the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures.
Another cross-cutting priority will be ensuring strong engagement with civil society, Indigenous Peoples and local communities, and youth advocates who are playing an increasingly prominent leadership role internationally as well as in national and local initiatives. One example is through the GEF-funded Inclusive Conservation Initiative which is supporting the stewardship of more than 9 million hectares in areas of high biodiversity importance.
The GEF Small Grants Programme will play an essential additional role by providing financial and technical backing to grassroots projects that benefit both nature and local communities.
The SGP encourages community-based protection of threatened ecosystems through grants to civil society organizations that manage public and private protected areas and wildlife corridors, forest landscapes, integrated river basins, and large marine ecosystems. Grants also support improvements in the sustainability of farms and fisheries through regenerative and biodiversity-friendly practices.
For more details on the Global Environment Facility’s support and priorities regarding biodiversity, please see this information document prepared for the Convention on Biological Diversity.