BY OJO SAMSON AYOMIDE
Canada is set to, once again, show its leadership in advancing environmental action at home and around the world by bringing diverse partners together to find solutions for a healthy planet. This is coming as the world experiences the triple crises of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution.
Even as the World Environment Day on Monday 5 June, Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of International Development and Minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada, announced that Canada will host the Seventh Assembly of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) in Vancouver, British Columbia, from August 22 to 26, 2023.
After welcoming the world to Montréal, Quebec, for the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15) in December 2022—a conference marked by historic progress on protecting nature globally and agreeing to biodiversity financing—Canada continues its leadership as the host of the GEF Assembly this summer.
The GEF Assembly, which meets every 4 years, is the global body that coordinates financing for international efforts to address climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution, and strains on land and ocean health. This meeting will bring together environmental leaders from 185 countries, including government ministers and representatives of international organizations, businesses, academia and civil society, as well as facilitating engagement with and input from Indigenous Peoples, women and young people.
This meeting comes at a time of significant diplomatic momentum with the historic Global Biodiversity Framework deal reached at COP15 and the high seas treaty agreed on in New York City, New York, in March 2023.
This momentum will continue to build at the GEF Assembly, during which a key expected outcome is the launch of the new Global Biodiversity Framework Fund—a critically needed source of funding for the protection of endangered species and their ecosystems. Its establishment could open new avenues for private sector and philanthropic support for nature. The GEF, based in Washington, D.C., was selected to manage this new fund at COP15.
Canada is a founding member of the GEF—Canada’s primary mechanism for helping developing countries address climate change. At COP15, Canada announced it would provide $219 million between 2022 and 2026 to the GEF’s eighth replenishment to support developing countries’ efforts to address global environmental challenges and meet their commitments under international environmental conventions. Canada also committed $350 million in new and additional funding to support developing countries in conserving biodiversity and to support the implementation of the Global Biodiversity Framework.
In June 2021, Canada also doubled its climate finance commitment to $5.3 billion over 5 years (2021 to 2026) to support developing countries’ transition to low-carbon, climate-resilient, nature-positive and inclusive sustainable development.
“On the momentous occasion of World Environment Day’s 50th anniversary, I am honoured to announce that Canada will be hosting the GEF Assembly in Vancouver. Canada believes in the power of collaboration and inclusivity as the only way to build a more resilient future for everyone. Protecting our world’s nature, rivers, lakes, oceans and wildlife will ensure a healthy planet and healthy people. We look forward to working with international partners, Indigenous Peoples and youth to find innovative solutions to our shared environmental challenges and provide support to developing countries in their climate adaptation efforts,” says Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of International Development and Minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada
Carlos Manuel Rodríguez, CEO and Chairperson of the Global Environment Facility said: “We are delighted to be holding the Seventh GEF Assembly in Canada, whose steady leadership in environmental diplomacy has yielded enormous benefits around the world. This gathering of the GEF’s member governments and diverse partners gives us a unique chance to build on recent breakthroughs, including long-sought agreements on biodiversity and the high seas, and ensure that the urgent environmental challenges we face are addressed in an inclusive and integrated way.”
“Indigenous ecological knowledge continues to prove its significant role in understanding our environment and planning for the future of our planet. Musqueam has long embraced the responsibility of environmental stewardship, as many Indigenous Peoples have around the world for generations. We are pleased to welcome international environmental leaders to our ancestral territory this summer for the Seventh Assembly of the Global Environment Facility, and we look forward to seeing how Indigenous knowledge is honoured and incorporated into these global discussions,” said Chief Wayne Sparrow, Musqueam Indian Band
“We look forward to welcoming those from around the world for this important gathering. Indigenous Peoples have been on the front lines of the climate crisis, using our Indigenous ways of knowing to help influence policy and climate action. We look forward to these important discussions and sharing both our experiences and solutions, as we seek to help heal our fragile ecosystem so that future generations may benefit from the choices we make today,” Wilson Williams (Sxwíxwtn), Spokesperson for the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) submitted.
Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada, Steven Guilbeault, believes “this conference will serve as a platform to unite and inspire global leaders, experts and stakeholders. It provides an important opportunity for Canada to build on the momentum gained at COP15, where a historic agreement was reached to safeguard nature and halt and reverse biodiversity loss. Together, we will explore strategies, share best practices and forge partnerships to tackle the pressing environmental challenges we face and to promote the use of nature-based solutions in support of the poorest and most vulnerable countries impacted by climate change. By harnessing our collective strengths and empowering diverse voices, we can make a profound and lasting impact on our planet.”
The GEF is a family of funds dedicated to confronting biodiversity loss, climate change, pollution, and strains on land and ocean health. Its grants, blended financing and policy support help developing countries address their biggest environmental priorities and adhere to international environmental conventions.
Since its founding in 1991, the GEF has supported national parks and terrestrial and marine protected areas that, when combined, amount to more than twice the size of Canada. In collaboration with other funders, including members of the Blue Nature Alliance, the GEF is now working to restore a combined ocean area the size of South America.
In the past year alone, GEF funding has supported protected areas three times the size of Costa Rica, restored land the size of 900,000 football fields, averted an amount of carbon dioxide equivalent to that produced by 30 million cars driving for 1 year, and disposed of enough chemicals of global concern to fill more than 4 cargo ships.
The Sixth GEF Assembly was held in Vietnam in 2018. The Seventh GEF Assembly was delayed by 1 year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Source: GEF Communications