International business leaders to provide expertise and support toward market-based environmental innovation in developing countries

The GEF Earth Fund Board, a private sector advisory group to the GEF Council designed to help international financial institutions strengthen the engagement of business in delivering global environmental benefits to the world’s most vulnerable, met today for the first time.

The members, which include top leaders from the banking, manufacturing and commodities sectors will be giving strategic guidance to the Global Environmental Facility, the world’s largest multilateral environmental fund on innovative financial investments aimed at building sustainable development.

The GEF is working with IFC, part of the World Bank Group, to help move this agenda forward; the two parties have already designated $50 million and $10 million to the fund, respectively with more investment expected in the coming months. Since it was first launched last year, the fund has attracted several partners and is expected to grow to as much as $150 million in its first round of financing through additional contributions from private sector companies, foundations, civil society, and other development agencies.

To maximize its impact, the fund will use a wide array of financial instruments, including grants, soft loans, and equity participation that reward environmental innovation in areas of strategic importance to the GEF, such as clean energies, water treatment, and second generation biofuels .

The inaugural members of the board include: Claude Jouven, former CEO of the French subsidiary of Citicorp, and now a board member of the Social Investment Forum, an organization that engages financial institutions in sustainable development practices; Hassan Lamrani Karim, the CEO of Safari Group, one of North Africa’s largest corporate conglomerates, and Yue Zhang, CEO of the Broad Air Conditioning Co. a Chinese-based energy manufacturing firm that is a leading exporter to over 40 countries.

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