Global Environment Facility approves over $78 million to support FAO-led projects
16 countries will benefit from projects designed to conserve biodiversity, enhance ecosystem services, combat land degradation, & preserve natural resources on land & water
15 December 2020, Rome – The Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has welcomed the recent decision by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Council to approve 13 FAO-led projects in 16 countries, totaling some $78.5 million dollars. The decision came during the 59th GEF Council Meeting & will build upon its June 2020 decision to approve $176 million for FAO-led projects.
The projects address global environmental crises that impact the productivity & sustainability of agricultural systems on land & water across five continents. They will be implemented in partnership with & co-financed by the governments of the countries involved: Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Benin, Brazil, Chile, Fiji, Indonesia, Madagascar, Mexico, Nicaragua, Pakistan, the Philippines, the Solomon Islands, Tajikistan, Vanuatu, & Venezuela.
The approved projects provide pathways for countries to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic while building the long-term resilience against future shocks caused by increasing climate risk & environmental degradation. The projects will assist countries & communities to adopt more sustainable & climate-resilient practices, enact stronger policies to conserve biodiversity & natural resources on land & water, & foster policy coherence & transboundary cooperation.
“There is an urgent need to create pathways for building back better & greener, & the partnership between FAO & the GEF is creating opportunities for countries & communities to build more inclusive, resilient & sustainable agri-food systems for better production, better nutrition, a better environment, & a better life,” said FAO Director-General QU Dongyu.
The approved projects will directly benefit 480,000 people, restore over 340,000 hectares of degraded land, improve the management of nearly 7.4 million hectares of landscapes & 5.2 million hectares of terrestrial & marine protected areas, & mitigate 12.4 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
This builds on the results of the FAO-GEF partnership to date, which has benefitted nearly 5 million people, created 350,000 jobs in rural communities, safeguarded biodiversity in close to 200 vulnerable marine ecosystems, & saved some 1,000 crop varieties, animal species & breeds from extinction.
An example of the latest FAO-led projects to be approved by the GEF Council is the GreenMex project which will mainstream biodiversity conservation, integrated landscape management & ecosystem connectivity into Sembrando Vida, a rural social protection program in Mexico. It will use biodiversity conservation as an enabler for more sustainable livelihoods, economic development & healthier diets.
The approved project in Venezuela will create new green job opportunities through an agro-ecological approach in the coffee & cocoa sectors, while the project in the Philippines will reduce pressures on ecosystems caused by loss in tourism revenues by training vulnerable communities to market & sell sustainably produced goods instead of resorting to illegal fishing & unsustainable land use.
The work program also includes regional projects that will assist countries manage shared natural resources more sustainably. The approved project for the Panj River Basin will develop effective transboundary water management between Tajikistan & Afghanistan to restore degraded lands & improve the management of protected areas & surrounding areas to better conserve biodiversity in both countries. The project in Fiji, Solomon Islands, & Vanuatu will increase climate resilience & enhance water & food security across all three Pacific island states by relieving pressure on over-exploited coastal aquifers through sound groundwater governance frameworks.