Philippines gets $43 million grant to halt species loss

Pia Lee-Brago - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines is one of the grant recipients for the $43 million (about P2.24 billion) in financing from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) for developing countries to fast-track halting of species loss, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) announced.

With global biodiversity loss at dangerous levels, 139 countries have received a lifeline to fast-track efforts to conserve, protect and restore species and ecosystems as soon as a new global accord currently under negotiation is approved.

The new financing from the GEF, totalling $43 million, will give developing countries the means to quickly put the anticipated Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework into practice and make headway toward the goal of halting and reversing species loss this decade.

Supported with technical expertise from the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and UNEP, the participating countries will be eligible for new grants of $300,000 for work to analyse and align their national policies, targets, finance and monitoring systems to take effective action on global threats to biodiversity.

“As we celebrate the International Day for Biological Diversity, this commitment shows that the world is united in recognizing the urgent need to end the destruction of nature and the loss of the services it provides,” Elizabeth Mrema, executive secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity said last Friday.

“This early action will prepare Parties to mobilize for the action that all sectors of society will take to make these aspirations a reality in the 10 years ahead,” Mrema said.

The GEF Early Action Grants will provide immediate financial and technical support to developing country governments, drawing from enabling activity resources in the biodiversity focal area in the GEF’s seventh funding cycle, known as GEF-7.

The support is designed to help accelerate implementation of the Global Biodiversity framework once it is formally agreed at the 2022 UN Biodiversity Conference (COP 15).

Biodiversity protection also represents the biggest share of the GEF-8 programming period, which will run from July 2022 to June 2026.

ASEAN members that are also grant recipient countries include Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.

The Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, a 10-year plan to halt the increase in the rate of extinctions and bring 30 percent of land and sea areas under protection, is expected to be agreed by the 196 Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity when they meet in Kunming City, China later this year.

Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, CEO and chairman of the GEF, said it was critically important for all countries to be ready to act quickly once the new framework is approved.

“Setting our aspirations is only a first step, and this coming decade requires us to sprint,” Rodriguez said. “Recognizing the intense pressures on developing countries as well as their unprecedented commitment to change the trajectory of biodiversity loss, the GEF is making these Early Action Grants available even before the new global accord is agreed.”

He said countries can use this “fast track” financial approach to update their biodiversity strategies and build capacities to deliver in the GBF.

“We stand ready to continue to help stewards of globally important biodiversity elevate nature in their planning and quickly scale up efforts that together can turn international goals into reality,” he added.

“The Global Biodiversity Framework represents a critical opportunity to set our planet on a new course,” UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen said. “But the global pandemic has left us with no time to waste. This joint initiative to accelerate preparedness by national actors shows that together, we are ready to put nature at the heart of decision-making about our shared future.”

UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner stated the need to create a planetary safety net by putting nature at the heart of global, national and local economies and development frameworks.

“Nature underpins half the world’s jobs and livelihoods, is the foundation for national food and water security, and is essential for tackling our climate crisis. Investing in early actions on nature is a triple win for people and the planet,” Steiner said.

The Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework is currently in its final negotiation stages, with the fourth and final meeting of the Open-Ended Working Group on the Framework to be held on June 21 to 26 in Nairobi, Kenya.



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