Celebrating International Year of Forests
GEF Joins Global Campaign Celebrating International Year of Forests
GEF largest provider of grants to
developing countries for forest management and conservation
New York/Washington DC, February 2, 2011 - The Global Environment Facility (GEF), in partnership with a network of public and private funders today helped launch a new United Nations effort celebrating the importance of forests in promoting and protecting sustainable development.
The International Year of Forests initiative will highlight ways the GEF and other stakeholders connected with the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) work with countries to manage, conserve and restore local resources for long lasting environmental and economic benefits.
The GEF has a unique and pivotal role in forest financing: the GEF serves as the financial mechanism of the three Rio conventions that all emphasize the importance of forests. This means the GEF receives guidance, mobilizes resources, and reports back to these international conventions on how resources are being used.
“The GEF continues to be the largest provider of grants to developing countries for forest management and conservation, and now we have additional partners with whom to collaborate as we move forward,” said Mrs. Monique Barbut, Chairperson and CEO of the GEF. "At the GEF, we want to address what are still huge financing gaps head on, particularly by supporting countries with low forest cover to enhance their forest stocks,” she said in remarks before the UNFF.
Barbut noted that the most exciting new opportunity to direct financial resources to forests comes from fast start financing affiliated with an international program called REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries).
Some $5 billion have been pledged for this fast start financing, she said, of which two-thirds are expected to come from bilateral funding (2010-12). Half of the multilateral support is expected to come from the GEF.
According to a report commissioned by the REDD+ Partnership, the GEF is also the only multilateral institution providing funding for all three phases of REDD+ – meaning readiness, implementation and performance-based action, and to more countries - 40 at this stage - than any other mechanism, including all bilateral sources.
As the latest funding cycle of the GEF progresses, more countries will start receiving forest funding by working through a range of GEF implementing entities, Barbut said, with an emphasis on supporting countries with low forest cover to enhance their forest stocks. According to the Global Partnership on Forest Restoration, there are more than 1 billion hectares of lost and degraded forests, where a people-centered approach to forest restoration would be suitable.
To help set in motion a more harmonized approach, the GEF will be working closely with the Forum and its partners with the hope that recognizing 2011 as the International Year of Forests will catalyze a comprehensive and lasting framework for conserving and managing forests – for biodiversity, for climate change mitigation, for the promotion of ecosystem-based adaptation to climate change, and for poverty reduction.