Adaptation
Building resilience
to climate change
 
Mitigation
Moving towards
low carbon societies
 
REDD+
Reducing Emissions
from Deforestation
and forest Degradation
Finance
New finance models
for the green economy
 
 
 

Innovation and Impact

NAOKO ISHII
CEO and Chairperson of the Global Environment Facility

Countries gathering in Doha for the conference of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) are dealing with serious problems affecting real people in communities worldwide.

At the Global Environment Facility (GEF), we are investing money and effort to address climate change – both to mitigate human contributions to it and to adapt to effects already upon us.

Mitigation involves reducing the production of greenhouse gases, and finding alternative ways of doing things that benefit, or at least do not harm the environment - such as, for example, through increasing the use of clean forms of energy, like solar and wind power, and energy efficiency.

Adaptation involves bolstering the resilience of people coping with global warming and preparing for impending change. Irrigation techniques and new crop varieties, for example, help farmers in marginal lands along the borders of desert regions cope with increasingly variable and erratic rainfall. In coastal areas, meanwhile, the GEF is supporting a major global coordinating effort to address threats to coral reefs – the rainforests of the sea.

An effective response to climate change means bringing locally successful strategies - and new ones under development – to a global scale. The GEF - with its 182 member nations and its partners in the international community - is directly engaged in supporting these strategies. It is also involved, with the UNFCCC, in establishing the Green Climate Fund aimed at enabling a scaled-up approach.

My vision for the organisation - and a GEF Strategy 2020 now under development - seeks to put the GEF partnership on a course towards greater impact. We must aim to engage all key actors, from local communities to national governments, the private sector, civil society organisations and indigenous people in findings and implementing solutions. My vision embraces four specific roles:

The GEF is, and must remain, an innovator: It should use its resources and network to introduce innovation in the design of programmes and policies to encourage early adoption and scaling up. The GEF must always operate from a position of technical excellence and worldclass experience, especially over energy, where new options for power generation and new energy efficiency technologies as already delivering significant results.

The GEF is and must remain, a champion of the Global Commons: There can be no separation between development and environment. Healthy ecosystems are essential for human health, food, energy and water, and ultimately sustainable development. I will ensure that the GEF uses its convening power to bring key players on board and create the context within which good decisions can be made to confront destructive trends and promote lasting change based on mutual trust;

The GEF is, and must remain, the partner of choice for environmental benefits: its success will depend on its ability to forge productive, trusting and catalytic partnerships with its member countries, the private sector, civil society, the scientific community, and its agencies. We must ensure that transaction costs within the GEF network do not reach a point where it is no longer attractive;

The GEF is, and must remain a catalyst, in the evolving architecture of environmental finance: Public and private sectors must identify new ways of working together to bring transformational change to the global environment In Tunisia, for example, the GEF supports a programme to establish energy services companies as vehicles for a sustainable energy efficiency market. The project has generated more than $150 million of energy-efficient investment, far exceeding its original $25 million target. It is also credited with reducing annual CO2 emissions by some 130,000 tonnes, equivalent to removing 25,400 cars from the road. This exemplifies my goal of giving the international community a seamless menu of options for identifying relevant technologies, testing and proving them, and scaling them up with large scale investments.

GEF investment in early stage renewable energy technology shows how these roles can lead to significant benefits of scale. It has supported manufacture and deployment of wind turbines, including on the world's largest international cooperative effort in clean energy, the China Renewable Energy Scale-up Program, coordinated by the World Bank.

We have established – in partnership with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and UNEP - a pilot Asia-Pacific Climate Technology Network and Finance Centre. This unique approach eases technology transfer for both mitigation and adaptation and promotes public-private investment partnerships. The project, for example, is helping pool venture capital risk by investing in a number of different early-stage companies with new climate technologies.

ADB's Asia Sustainable Transport and Urban Development Program supports Asian cities in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and gaining local co-benefits through integrating low-carbon and climate resilient transit systems and low-carbon urban development. It is introducing sustainable transport options in Ulan Bator, Dhaka, and cities in China.

Projects we support provide us with useful examples of what can work when scaled up. We manage two funds mandated to support climate change adaptation finance in the poorest and most vulnerable countries: the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) and Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF). LDCF finances adaptation actions addressing, amongst others, agriculture and food security, water resources and coastal zone management, early warning and disaster risk, health, and fragile ecosystems. SCCF supports adaptation and technology transfer in developing countries.

In Niger, where land degradation, water scarcity, and at-risk livestock pose a deadly threat to rural communities, LDCF supports climate-resilient farming through distributing seeds of droughtresilient crops and appropriate water-harvesting techniques. In Bangladesh, a combination of smart planning and coastal afforestation programmes lessen the risks of floods, droughts, cyclones, and erosion. Adaptation in such vulnerable small island states as Samoa has included installing automated weather stations and developing crop suitability maps and other tools to help increase food and water security, reduce damage from weather-related disasters, and cope with the threat of disease.

SCCF supports innovative and cost-efficient projects on water resources management, land management, agriculture, health, infrastructure development, fragile eco-systems( including mountainous ones), and integrated coastal zone management. One project is on track to become the first regional network of glacier monitoring stations in the Andes, benefiting Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia.

We are hard at work developing and funding these projects. And we are learning from them - the key to developing strategies and projects that meet a global threat on a global scale.