Message from the GEF Chairperson and CEO

The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) brings together global partners that have diverse but complementary perspectives, priorities, and objectives, and that are united by a common belief: biodiversity is indispensable for sustainable development and human well-being.

At least 40 percent of the world’s economy and 80 percent of the needs of the poor are derived from biological resources. Biodiversity supports agriculture-maintaining pollinators, water resources, and fertile soils. It delivers key ingredients for medicines and mitigates climate change by sequestering carbon and buffering people from the effects of extreme weather. And it can become a renewable source of energy and a supplier of indispensable material goods.

For these reasons and many more, our organizations embraced CEPF’s mission to ensure that the world’s biodiversity hotspots have a future beyond our generation and that of our sons and daughters. Accordingly, we joined forces to provide substantive financial commitments over the years. And the good news is that these commitments are paying off.

From its inception in 2000 through 2015, CEPF provided more than US$192 million in funding to civil society organizations working in 92 developing countries spanning 23 of the 36 global biodiversity hotspots. These projects have provided direct benefits to more than 2,300 communities, including women’s and youth groups, through jobs, training in sustainable livelihoods, acquisition of land rights, and other economically beneficial activities.

One example from Africa is the work of the Association de Gestion Intégrée des Ressources in Morocco in the Bou Areg Laguna of Morocco, an area that was facing mounting environmental issues. With a grant from CEPF, this innovative NGO reversed the course of unsustainable development while raising the income of local fishermen through the protection of a strategic section of the lagoon that acts as a nursery for many important commercial fish species. Shifting continents, CEPF has enabled the use of carbon credits to finance the costs of farmers in the Dominican Republic who are committed to shaded cocoa production grown alongside native trees. This initiative is also connecting local farmers with chocolate companies in major markets, ensuring that premiums are secured for their organic cocoa beans. (See articles on Enhancing community benefits from biodiversity and Innovating with the private sector to fight climate change.)

Some may think that relatively small projects such as these can be very attractive but achieve limited impact. However, each CEPF-funded project is part of a much larger strategy that targets an entire biodiversity hotspot through well-designed ecosystem profiles—which are, in essence, investment strategies that serve to guide not only CEPF but also a multitude of donors coordinated for maximum impact. CEPF projects emerge as bright spots that serve as scalable models capable of replication across much larger swaths of nature and communities.

I am proud of the CEPF partnership and convinced of its capacity to make a significant difference to the fate of the world’s top-priority biodiversity hotspots. Equally important, CEPF is going about its business of protecting nature while building solid institutional capacity of local organizations and communities in ways that address the needs of both nature and people.

The Aichi Biodiversity Targets, Sustainable Development Goals, and the Paris climate agreement hold the promise of a fresh start for our planet.

For the CEPF partnership to continue to flourish, I invite other like-minded institutions to join forces with us to help ensure that Earth’s rich biodiversity and other global environmental commons are safeguarded now and for generations to come.

– Naoko Ishii,
CEO and Chairperson of the Global Environment Facility

Photo Credits

Naoko Ishii, Chairperson and CEO, the Global Environment Facility. © GEF