All life on Earth depends on clean air and water, biodiversity, healthy forests, land, oceans and a stable climate. These global commons—the ecosystems, biomes and processes that regulate the stability and resilience of the Earth system—are the very foundation of our global economy and modern society.
Today, they are facing an all-toofamiliar tragedy of over-exploitation and rapid degradation. With increasing pressures from humanity, our window of opportunity to act is closing quickly. It is urgent that we bring about transformations in our key economic systems, from energy, cities and food to the “take-make-waste” economy, and leverage evidence and new information technology, political leadership, coalitions for change and innovation.
The necessity of making our societies and economies more sustainable and less inequitable is not just to avoid disaster, but to build lasting prosperity. Operating within planetary boundaries is not just the only way to ensure healthy economies, but has the potential to provide much greater and better-shared growth. That’s the opportunity of the commons.
Storytelling is part of the fabric that holds human societies together – stories connect us to our humanity, providing links to what has been, and a glimpse of what might be to come. Spanning all 25 years of UNDP’s partnership with the GEF, the stories in this anniversary publication represent a small sample of the thousands that could be told. These stories stand as evidence that our work to protect the health of the planet is bringing about real improvements in people’s lives and changes in the way governments, businesses and civil society think about the environment, develop policies and do their work. The storytellers include people from all walks of life, including subsistence farmers, civil society leaders, captains of industry, environmental practitioners, renowned academics and government ministers. The common thread that binds their stories together is the message of transformational impact that promises a brighter future.
Big birthdays are occasions for celebration, and reflection — and reaching 25 years is a particularly important milestone. For a person, it marks the onset of full maturity, a moment at which soberly to confirm the course to an effective and satisfying adult life, while still retaining much of youth’s enthusiasm and willingness to innovate. And it can be much the same for organizations...
A half century after Rachel Carson brought us Silent Spring, a lot of voices in the natural world are still falling silent. But in the world’s high places, there remains an animal rarely seen and almost never heard. This is the story of one of the world’s great cats, noteworthy for the fact that it does not roar. But its conservation story, intricately linked with the landscapes and people, needs to be heard.
Fish provide 4.3 billion people with about 15% of their animal protein and essential nutrients for growth and maternal health. Coastal fisheries – defined as all fisheries within Economic Exclusive Zones (EEZ) – are of global importance as a basis of food, nutrition and livelihoods, particularly in developing countries. In addition to playing a key role in food security, coastal fisheries provide a host of economic benefits.
Since it was founded, the GEF has been a strong partner and supporter of sustainable development for the Small Island Developing States (SIDS). The GEF has supported the development of the green economy in the SIDS because nowhere is the inextricable connection between people’s wellbeing and prosperity and the environment more clear than on small islands.