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New pledges for multibillion-dollar environment fund a boost for World Summit on Sustainable Development

The agreement by donor countries in Washington DC yesterday to increase their support to a multibillion-dollar environment fund, the Global Environment Facility (GEF), is an important boost for the World Summit on Sustainable Development the head of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) said today.

PARIS/NAIROBI, 8 August 2002 - The agreement by donor countries in Washington DC yesterday to increase their support to a multibillion-dollar environment fund, the Global Environment Facility (GEF), is an important boost for the World Summit on Sustainable Development the head of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) said today.

Speaking to journalists in Paris, Klaus Toepfer, UNEP's Executive Director, welcomed the news that thirty-two governments have agreed on a US$2.92 billion replenishment of the GEF to fund its operations over the next four years, 2002 - 2006. He congratulated Mohammed T El-Ashry, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the GEF and all the negotiators involved.

Mr Toepfer said the agreement, the highest replenishment ever for the GEF, (which has proved itself an invaluable weapon in the fight against poverty and environmental degradation), was a positive signal for success at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg later this month.

"The World Summit on Sustainable Development will be a crucial test of the world's ability and its enthusiasm for tackling the very pressing problems facing people and the planet today," Mr Toepfer said. "The pledges for the GEF replenishment show that in one critical area we are starting to move from words to implementation."

"Richer nations, meeting in Monterrey, Mexico, earlier this year, committed themselves to a significant increase in aid to poorer ones. This marks a reversal of years of decline in official overseas development aid that had fallen to 0.22 per cent of rich countries' national wealth," Toepfer continued. "The Monterrey pledges combined with yesterday's pledges in Washington are a real turnaround, and a good start. Now these pledges need to be turned into concrete actions at Johannesburg in areas such as water, energy and biodiversity," he said.

The GEF has, over the past 10 years, committed more than US$ 4 billion and mobilized some US$ 11 billion for more than 1,000 projects in 160 countries.

Successes include helping developing countries to cope with the impacts of global warming to ones that are assisting poorer nations to conserve wildlife, monitor and improve the health of international waters and overcome land degradation.

The GEF was officially established in October 1991, for a three-year pilot phase. Core contributions to the Trust Fund for the pilot phase amounted to US$ 841.64 million. Additional contributions to the GEF Pilot Phase, provided under co-financing arrangements, amounted to US$ 223.79 million.

In 1994, in the first replenishment of the restructured GEF, thirty-four nations pledged US$ 2.023 billion. In 1998, thirty-six donors agreed to a second replenishment of the GEF to the amount of US$2.75 billion involving new pledges of a further US$ 1.991 billion. On 7 August 2002, agreement was reached among 32 donor nations on the third replenishment of the GEF to the amount of US$ 2.92 billion, including US$ 2.2 billion in new funding.

Currently, UNEP runs a portfolio of GEF projects and other activities valued at approximately 0.5 billion dollars (See below for more details).

For more information please contact: Robert Bisset, UNEP Press Office and Europe Spokesperson on mobile: 33 - 6 - 2272 5842, E-mail:

Note to Editors:
The Global Environment Facility was established for a pilot-phase in 1991 in the run up to the Rio Earth Summit of 1992. It has three implementing agencies. These are UNEP, the United Nations Development Programme and the World Bank.


As of 1st March 2002 the UNEP portfolio of GEF activities is valued at US$ 511 million. This includes ongoing activities valued at US$ 375 million comprising 21 full scale projects, 33 medium sized projects, 154 enabling activities and 34 projects in "PDF phase". In addition, UNEP is co-implementing with partner agencies 12 full-size projects and 4 medium-sized projects. This portfolio involves the participation of some 144 countries worldwide.

The UNEP portfolio of projects in GEF is based on the four main pillars of UNEP intervention that were established during GEF Phases I and II:

· Enabling activities;
· Environmental assessment, analysis and research;
· Development and demonstration of tools and methodologies for improving environmental management;
· Strengthening the enabling environment so that countries can more effectively implement commitments made as Parties to various environmental conventions (including assistance under the GEF Capacity Development Initiative); and
· Management of transboundary ecosystems (shared water bodies, terrestrial ecosystems, etc).

Highlights of UNEP intervention in GEF

POPs: UNEP is actively assisting more than 30 countries prepare national implementation plans for Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) through GEF enabling activities. UNEP has consolidated a portfolio of activities relating to persistent toxic substances ranging from strategic activities such as the assessment of national management needs, to more focused activities dealing with DDT phase out and reduction of pesticide use in intensive agriculture.

BIOSAFETY: UNEP succeeded in ensuring the early start of the operations of its GEF project on the Development of National Biosafety Frameworks aimed at assisting 100 countries to prepare for the entry into force of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. 8 countries have begun implementing these frameworks.

CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION: UNEP, the Global Change System for Analysis Research and Training (START), the Third World Academy of Sciences and the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change have embarked on a project targeted towards developing capacity for assessing the impacts of climate change. Financing from the GEF has been directed towards developing science capacity and assessment techniques and information targeted at the most vulnerable regions and sectors where the capacity is needed. UNEP is now working to assist Least Developed Countries (LDCs) prepare their NAPAs - national plans for adaptation to climate change.

SUPPORT TO AFRICA: Being the only GEF partner located in Africa, UNEP, was instrumental in preparing, a couple of days after the OAU Summit of Lusaka, a GEF operation aimed at assisting African countries to implement the environment component of the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) adopted by African Heads of State. This unique GEF activity may assist in the design of a programmatic approach for addressing global environmental challenges facing the African continent.

LAND DEGRADATION: Being one of the major environmental threats facing the world community and, in particular, Africa, UNEP has assisted countries with the assistance of GEF financing, to address land degradation in the context of integrated land and water management.

ASSESSMENTS AND ANALYSIS: The Global International Waters Assessment (GIWA), is well under identifying the possible target areas and activities needed to protect transboundary water systems and the water supplies. With a consolidated portfolio of strategic assessments in the other GEF focal areas, namely:
- the regionally based assessment of persistent toxic substances,
- the millennium ecosystem assessment;
- a facility for developing solar and wind resource assessments in pilot sites across the world;
- a preparatory phase for a global drylands land degradation assessment,

UNEP will be able to assist countries in identifying those environmental issues that require priority interventions.

CIVIL SOCIETY INVOLVEMENT: UNEP has utilized the avenue of medium sized projects to provide GEF funding for projects led or partnered by NGOs, community based organizations and scientific organizations. To date, some 42 medium sized projects have been approved through UNEP with GEF financing.

UNEP News Release 2002/55

Thursday 08 Aug 2002
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