Efforts to address the environmental implications of our food and fiber production have been taken up a notch as the Global Environment Facility (GEF) approves 26 projects led by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). The approval underscores an urgent push to meet the 2030 Agenda, intertwining the health of the planet with that of its inhabitants.
Maria Helena Semedo, FAO Deputy Director-General, highlighted the importance of the approved projects: “These endeavors will aid countries in the sustainable use and conservation of natural resources, while also offering nutritious diets and green, climate-resilient livelihoods.” Semedo further emphasized the projects’ alignment with the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework and the Paris Agreement, following the green signal from the GEF’s 64th Council Session in Brasilia on June 26.
The projects received a total of $174.7 million in GEF funding and were leveraged by $1.2 billion in co-financing. Thus, the FAO-GEF partnership will have facilitated countries in procuring over $1.4 billion in financing and leveraging more than $9 billion in co-financing. These efforts are critical in transforming agrifood systems into solutions for biodiversity loss, ecosystem degradation, climate change, and pollution across land, freshwater bodies, and oceans.
The approved projects are set to assist countries in the creation or improvement of almost 17.9 million hectares of protected areas on land and sea. Additionally, they aim to enhance the sustainability of fisheries, forestry, and agricultural practices on over 27 million hectares of landscapes and seascapes, restore 820,000 hectares of ecosystems, and mitigate 275 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions. The projects also seek to enhance cooperative management of 4 shared water ecosystems and provide benefits to 1.6 million women and men.
Among these, six projects from the Critical Forest Biomes Integrated Program are to be implemented in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Nicaragua, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Thailand, and Venezuela, aiming to conserve globally important forests and better manage forest resources. Another five projects from the Blue and Green Islands Integrated Program will target the environment-economy nexus in Small Islands Developing States (SIDS), including Cabo Verde, Cuba, Mauritius, Trinidad and Tobago, and Vanuatu.
Moreover, four projects are a part of the Ecosystem Restoration Integrated Program in Cote d’Ivoire, Nepal, Sao Tome and Principe, and Viet Nam. A project in Costa Rica joins the Net Zero Nature Positive Accelerator Integrated Program. The current portfolio of FAO’s global GEF exceeds USD 1.3 billion, serving more than 120 countries. The projects address local priorities, generate global environmental benefits, and drive forward the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).