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GEF: strengthening the global environmental fund as a pacemaker

Federal Office for the Environment FOEN

Bern, October 16, 2002 - The second general assembly of the member states of the Global Environment Fund (GEF) opened today in Beijing. SAEFL director Philippe Roch pointed out the crucial role of the GEF in the implementation of international environmental agreements. The pacemaker function of the fund must be strengthened and the private sector more involved in the activities of the GEF.

The Global Environment Fund is playing a crucial role in the implementation of important decisions taken at the Johannesburg Environment Summit and the multilateral environmental agreements, said BUWAL Director Philippe Roch today to the representatives of the 171 GEF member states in Beijing. Together with a six-person delegation, he will represent Switzerland at the second general assembly from October 16 to 18.

Since the GEF was founded, $ 4 billion has been invested in over 1,000 projects, triggering additional investments of $ 11 billion. In the next phase of the GEF, it is important to strengthen this pacemaker function of the fund, said Philippe Roch. The efficiency and sustainability of the GEF interventions should be improved; Increased state and private commitment is required in all areas. Regarding the participation of the private sector in the fund, he emphasized: "The GEF should not shrink from the removal of unnecessary procedural barriers for participations from the private sector".

«In all areas of the GEF we need more holistic approaches and greater coherence in order to ensure that GEF project activities support one another and lead to both sustainable and measurable successes». The BUWAL director cited water as a good example: “Here it is not enough to concentrate solely on the aspects of distribution. If we fail to protect forests and wetlands and treat our soils carefully, the water will become increasingly scarce and increasingly polluted ».

The head of the Swiss delegation welcomed the addition of two new priority areas, the Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) and the Desertification Convention. He called for an overarching strategy for chemicals to be started immediately.

The Global Environment Fund has recently been replenished for the third time. Switzerland is expected to contribute CHF 99 million. The Federal Council will soon be discussing a corresponding dispatch.

Now that the fund has been replenished and its structure improved, the GEF can be expected to act as a catalyst even more than before, said Philippe Roch. However, there were some difficult moments leading up to the replenishment, he noted. A lot of persuasion was necessary, especially with the USA, before the country made more resources available to the fund than before.

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Federal Office for the Environment FOEN