TIME named the Global Environment Facility CEO and Chairperson Carlos Manuel Rodríguez to the inaugural TIME100 Climate list, recognizing the 100 most innovative leaders driving business climate action.
Rodríguez is currently head of the GEF, the largest multilateral source of environmental funding for developing countries and host of the new Global Biodiversity Framework Fund. A noted environmental lawyer and conservationist, Rodríguez pioneered many innovative policies that helped Costa Rica double its forest cover, reach 100 percent renewable energy in electricity generation, and embed nature conservation principles across the public and private sectors.
To assemble the list, TIME's editors and reporters fielded nominations and recommendations from industry leaders and partner organizations like Global Optimism and The B Team, as well as TIMECO2’s Advisory Council. Candidates were then assessed on a variety of factors, including recency of action, measurable results, and influence.
The GEF CEO told TIME that moving the needle on a global scale required more than dedicated financing for environmental initiatives – countries also need to stop funding activities that harm nature. “There is not a single country that invests more in protecting nature than it spends on activities that destroy it. This has to change. Governments should phase out all subsidies, incentives, and policies that financially support carbon emissions coming from different sectors. Once this is done, it is time to make plans to decarbonize, identify climate adaptation needs, and align the full range of public and private investments with the Paris Agreement,” he said.
He also stressed the strong positive potential from investing in nature. “The best climate technology is nature itself. Scientific evidence tells us that intact forests, wetlands, mangroves, and green corridors are powerful tools to mitigate climate change impacts. Cities from Asunción to Kigali to Chennai are infusing nature in their urban planning with extremely positive benefits. Regenerative agriculture practices such as planting cover crops and reducing tilling can likewise reduce emissions, support habitat and species diversity, prevent erosion, and improve water quality. Nature is a tremendous force for good when we create the conditions for it to thrive. For me this is the biggest source of hope there is,” he said.
About the Global Environment Facility
The Global Environment Facility (GEF) is a family of funds with 186 member countries dedicated to confronting biodiversity loss, climate change, pollution, and strains on land and ocean health. Its grants, blended financing, and policy support help developing countries address their biggest environmental priorities and adhere to international environmental conventions. Over the past three decades, the GEF has provided more than $23 billion and mobilized $129 billion in co-financing for more than 5,000 national and regional projects.