Editor's note: This story is part of the publication produced for the 25th Anniversary of the Global Environment Facility. The publication is a compilation of contributions from across the GEF partnership; it includes stories and guest articles that have being submitted by countries, partner organizations and dignitaries from around the world.
The Latin America and the Caribbean region hosts many of the world’s most unique and significant ecosystems, which accounts for 40% of global biodiversity. In recent decades, due to unsustainable practices, the region has faced a severe loss and degradation of its natural capital which has also resulted in GHG emissions, adding to emissions from other sources.
For over a decade, GEF-funded projects have been assisting IDB member countries reduce their natural capital loss and decrease GHG emissions. Since its accreditation, the IDB has approved over $300 million dollars with GEF financing for a wide diversity of projects ranging from natural habitat protection and management, solar power generation, efficiency in transport logistics, promotion of payments for environmental services, energy efficiency in social housing and public lighting, as well as wastewater treatment financing mechanisms.
Some of IDB’s recent projects demonstrate an ample diversity of expected environmental benefits in key economic sectors including urban development, transport, agriculture, forestry, energy and biotechnology. These projects are being developed in alignment with the IDB’s country strategies and intend to combine environmental benefits with quality of life improvements.
A recent example includes the Sustainable Energy Facility (SEF), where GEF financing is blended with an IDB loan, targeting the Eastern Caribbean countries. This project aims to diversify the energy matrix and reduce the cost of power generation throughout the region by promoting the implementation of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies to reduce the region’s dependency on liquid fossil fuels.
In Brazil, a project for the recovery and preservation of the threatened Atlantic Forest ecosystem in Paraiba do Sul basin aims to promote the generation of carbon sequestration and biodiversity benefits by reconnecting forest fragments, improving ecosystem resilience, and building conservation capacity. The project, co-financed by an IDB loan of over $140 million, is generating capacity building for carbon stocks and biodiversity assessment and increasing effectiveness and financial sustainability of conservation units along the basin’s Serra do Mar Corridor, as well as promoting sustainable economic activities in their buffer zones.
The IDB has been one of GEF’s most important partners for implementing non-grant projects. Our GEF-financed private sector initiatives include risk reducing financing to promote climate-smart agriculture practices among private sector firms and a risk mitigation instrument for investing in the restoration of degraded lands, which aims to catalyze $120 million in private sector investments resulting in the restoration of 45,000 hectares and the sequestration of $4.5 million tons of CO2 equivalent. The goals of these investments are to have a positive impact on reduced deforestation and land degradation, by reducing pressure on natural resources, while providing reflows of funds to the GEF.
The IDB recognizes the importance of GEF contributions towards the sustainable development of our region and congratulates the GEF family on its 25th anniversary for all the magnificent efforts applied during the past quarter of a century. We expect to continue to strengthen the strategic partnership with the GEF, and implement a common agenda to generate long-term global environmental benefits as well as improve the quality of life in Latin America and the Caribbean.