The Global Environment Facility’s governing board has approved plans to establish a “game-changing” new fund to finance the implementation of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, which aims to put nature on a recovery path by the end of this decade.
The GEF Council decision, taken during a meeting in Brazil, clears the way for the launch of the Global Biodiversity Framework Fund at the Seventh GEF Assembly, to take place in Vancouver, Canada, in August.
“The creation of this biodiversity fund is a game-changer for countries’ ability to protect, restore, and ensure the sustainable use of nature,” said Carlos Manuel Rodríguez, GEF CEO and Chairperson and former Environment and Energy Minister of Costa Rica. “I am thrilled to see this rapid progress just six months after the historic agreement for biodiversity reached in Montreal. I thank the GEF Council for its vision and commitment, which we will continue to build on at the GEF Assembly and beyond.”
“This is a tremendous result for the planet and for our children and grandchildren, whose future depends on us reversing the course of environmental damage and also supporting each other along the way,” said Tom Bui, GEF Council Member from Canada and Co-Chair of the Brasilia meetings. “This agreement extends the positive momentum in international environmental diplomacy we saw in Montreal six months ago, and sets us up for a successful launch of the fund in Vancouver.”
The Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework was a breakthrough deal reached in December 2022 during the Convention on Biological Diversity COP15 summit in Montreal. It set new goals on the conservation, restoration, and sustainable use of biodiversity and ecosystems by 2030.
To implement the agreement, countries will need to translate the plan into national targets and strategies, integrate biodiversity across their decision-making, and take concrete action to deliver results. This requires financing for budget-stressed developing countries, many of which are some of the most highly biodiverse in the world.
That direct support will be provided through the new fund, which will be set up to draw in capital from governments, the private sector, and philanthropic organizations.
David Cooper, Acting Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, described the GEF Council support as “a landmark event” that will breathe life into the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework and its transformative goals.
“Achieving the goals and targets of the Framework is hugely ambitious. But it is also necessary. It’s necessary to maintain the web of life on planet Earth. It’s also an essential part of climate action. And it’s a fundamental prerequisite to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” Cooper said. “The new fund will provide an opportunity to receive funding from all sources and to quickly disburse them through streamlined procedures, and with enhanced access for Indigenous Peoples and local communities.”
The GEF, which is the financial mechanism for the Convention on Biological Diversity, has already provided early action grants to support national planning around the new agreement’s goals and targets. In addition to housing the new Global Biodiversity Framework Fund, it will continue to support biodiversity initiatives through the projects and programs it supports through its other trust funds. Biodiversity is the largest component of the GEF-8 funding cycle, which runs from 2022 to 2026.
Earlier in the week, the GEF Council approved a record work program providing $1.4 billion in direct support for developing countries’ efforts to protect and ensure the sustainable use of biodiversity, in line with commitments made in Montreal.
The six new Integrated Programs included in the work program will support progress on 19 of the 23 targets of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, and make advances on all of its goals relating to halting and reversing nature loss.
The Integrated Programs, designed to target environmental threats in a holistic manner, will work to reduce the impact of climate change on at-risk species and habitats, and will support the sustainable management of agriculture, aquaculture, fisheries, and forests.
The GEF Assembly, a once-every-four-year gathering of the full partnership, will take place Aug. 22-26. It is set to include environment and finance ministers from around the world, in addition to leaders from civil society, science, the private sector, and local communities. The Global Biodiversity Framework Fund is set to be launched during this gathering, as a reflection of the broad, whole-of-government, whole-of-society approach needed to ensure this effort is a success.
During the Brasilia meeting, Council members also agreed to broaden the GEF’s remit to make it part of the financial mechanism supporting the new Agreement under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction – known by the acronym BBNJ.
Following this decision, the GEF will support countries’ ratification and early action on the new agreement about biodiversity on the high seas, which was adopted last week in New York – another important example of progress in environmental diplomacy. This work spans the GEF’s international waters and biodiversity focal areas.
“This is a very significant step forward for the last frontier of nature: the high seas, whose biodiversity needs to be a priority for all of us. The GEF is ready to help countries work together to conserve and ensure the sustainable use of life in areas beyond national jurisdiction,” Rodríguez said. “This work is critical to meeting the Global Biodiversity Framework goals, including the effective conservation and management of 30 percent of marine areas by 2030. I am grateful to the positive spirit shown by countries and by the GEF Council as we seek to safeguard our ocean for the future.”
The GEF is already a financial mechanism to the Convention on Biological Diversity, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, UN Convention to Combat Desertification, and Minamata Convention on Mercury.