$20-mn project to protect environment


Washington : The World Bank and the Conservation International (CI) have signed an agreement to spend around $20 million to protect some of the world’s most unique and threatened flora and fauna, including island ecosystems and temperate forests.

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The fund will be provided by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), which helps in funding projects and programmes in developing countries to protect global environment, BuaNews agency reported Monday.

Speaking about the new initiative, Monique Barbut, chief executive officer and chairperson of the GEF, said, “The world’s irreplaceable habitats, which if lost locally will be gone globally, are mostly found in the biodiversity hotspots.”

This initiative, she said, is aggressively building the local institutions and the capacity of developing countries to manage and benefit from these high priority places.

The funds will be made available as grants for projects undertaken by non-governmental, community, and private sector organisations through the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), which is administered by CI, Barbut said.

In its seven-year history, CEPF funding has enabled the protection of lands equal to an area the size of Portugal, and the new funding brings the total GEF commitment to the CEPF to $45 million, she added.

The money is pooled with contributions from CI and other global leaders in the partnership to create a biodiversity fund that unites expertise and resources to safeguard the hotspots.

Biodiversity hotspots where projects will be funded include fragile island ecosystems in the remote Pacific island nations of Micronesia, Polynesia and Fiji, and the diverse landscapes of the Caribbean Islands and Mediterranean Basin.

Other partners of the project are the French Development Agency, the government of Japan, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the World Bank.

“These new funds will help us continue to find solutions that allow poor people in these hotspots to have a better way of life while at the same time conserving the biodiversity on which their long-term survival depends,” said Warren Evans, World Bank’s Director of Environment.

The forests along the east coast of southern Africa, which harbour the largest diversity of tree species of any temperate forest on the planet, will also benefit from the initiative.

“This new funding represents a significant opportunity to scale up conservation efforts and make a difference where it matters most,” said Jorgen Thomsen, CEPF executive director and CI senior vice president.

CEPF support to more than 1.200 civil society groups in Africa, Asia, and Latin America has enabled these partners to help protect more than 10 million hectares of the most important sites for conservation and to influence policies in dozens of countries.