UN calls for backing of multibillion-dollar environmental fund

17 June 2002 – The head of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) today urged governments to "swiftly and significantly" replenish a multibillion-dollar fund that has proven to be an invaluable weapon in the fight against poverty and environmental degradation.

UNEP Executive Director Klaus Toepfer, speaking in Stockholm at the 30th anniversary celebrations of the conference that led to the creation of the UN agency, called on heads of State to make the replenishment of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) a top priority and a key outcome of the upcoming World Summit on Sustainable Development.

The GEF was established for a pilot phase in 1991 in the run-up to the Rio Earth Summit of 1992 to focus on biodiversity, climate change, international waters, land degradation, the ozone layer and, more recently, issues like the phasing out persistent organic pollutants (POPs), according to UNEP.

During its pilot phase the Facility was given $1.2 billion, and subsequently was replenished twice, for $2.02 billion and $2.75 billion, before it was re-structured in 1994. The third replenishment is due this year.

The GEF has proven its worth and the funds, given to it by developed nations, have been very well spent, Mr. Toepfer said, noting that 16 independent auditors recently concluded that the Facility was an innovative, unique and successfully run body for sustainable development.

"The GEF is not a new funding arm but an established one," he said. "It has been agreed that it is now due for re-vitalization so it can continue its excellent work. Let's now do this and give it the financial resources needed to carry on with its important activities."

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