The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) welcomes the pledge of $5.25 billion announced for the eighth replenishment of the Global Environment Facility (GEF-8).
The increase in GEF resources comes at a critical moment as many countries around the world are facing multiple challenges – from drought to conflicts, to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, all of which could turn policy attention away from sustainable growth and development approaches. Developing and the least developed countries, in particular, will benefit from the increased allocation by supplementing stretched national budgets to achieve the desired post-COVID-19 recovery.
The announcement also comes a month before the 15th session of the Conference of the Parties to UNCCD, in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, where governments will decide on the priority actions to take in 2022 and 2023.
“Land is where life thrives. We applaud countries’ leadership and commitment to successfully replenish the GEF for next 4 years from July 2022. Today's announcement will ramp up efforts to combat land degradation that would have a positive impact on the restoration of ecosystems,” said UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw.
The restoration by 2030 of the one billion hectares of land pledged would have vast economic, social, and environmental benefits worldwide. In turn, these benefits could improve food security for communities and consumers worldwide.
The Global Mechanism of the UNCCD regularly receives requests from countries for support to develop large-scale projects that can transform livelihoods and landscapes. It continues to provide technical assistance to stakeholders in developing project ideas that are eligible for GEF funding.
The increased GEF-8 allocation for the land focal area may encourage countries with worsening land degradation to take concrete action. About 130 of the 169 UNCCD country parties affected by desertification have shown great interest in restoring degrading land and pursuing sustainable land management.
Since its establishment in 1992, the GEF has played a catalytic role in land restoration and rehabilitation activities. The GEF became a financial mechanism of the UNCCD in 2010. GEF funding has helped countries to create the enabling environment needed to motivate other partners, including the private sector, to invest in large-scale restoration.
This article was originally published by the UNCCD.