The United States has committed $600.8 million over the next four years to support the eighth replenishment of the Global Environment Facility (GEF-8), which is Washington’s largest GEF pledge ever.
“The US pledge aligns with continuing U.S. priorities and supports the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to addressing climate change, conserving global carbon sinks and other critical ecosystems, and restoring the health of our ocean,” the Americans said, in a statement released by the US Embassy in the Philippines.
The US joined 28 other donors in collectively pledging more than $5 billion to support GEF-8, a nearly 30 percent increase over GEF-7.
The statement came after President Rodrigo Duterte blamed climate change for the great destruction wrought by Typhoon Agaton, the first storm on the country this year, and hoped the government succeeding him after the May 9 elections could do better in preparing Filipinos for natural disasters.
The US funding commitment for GEF is intended to help protect tropical rainforests and other critical carbon sinks; address ocean plastics pollution; combat wildlife trafficking and illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing; and reduce hazardous transboundary pollutants such as PCBs and mercury that can affect Americans’ health.
“In its Fiscal Year 2023 Budget, the Administration has requested $150.2 million for the GEF, as the first of four planned installments for the U.S. contribution to GEF-8,” the embassy statement said.
Duterte expressed hopes the next administration would be able to come up with better preparation or efforts to prevent loss of lives due to destruction wrought by storms and other calamities.
“Unless there’s a radical change in the weather patterns, we will have it hard here in the Philippines… The damage we take is great, but our contribution to climate change is small,” the President added in expressing sorrow over the lives lost to landslides after the storm.
During his speech before the 76th United Nations General Assembly in September last year, Duterte urged wealthy countries to fulfill their financial commitment to support developing nations’ efforts to tackle climate change, saying “this a moral obligation that cannot be avoided.”
“Developed countries must fulfill their longstanding commitment to climate financing, technology transfer, and capacity-building in the developing world,” the President said in his taped speech before the 76th UN General Assembly.
“Our world’s transition to a green economy must not be at the expense of developing countries’ economic vitality. It simply cannot be – or it would be another travesty of justice,” he added.
Duterte lamented that some countries are more vulnerable to climate change, but the “the greatest injustice here is that those who suffer the most are those the least responsible for this existential crisis.”
“But here we are now at a critical tipping point, where failure to act leads to cataclysmic consequences for the whole of humankind,” he added.
Duterte then appealed for urgent climate action, especially from those that “can truly tip the balance.”
The GEF is one of the world’s largest dedicated funders of projects and programs to improve the global environment. The United States supported the establishment of the GEF in 1991 and has contributed to all seven replenishments.
Since its launch in 1991, the GEF has provided nearly $22 billion in grants and mobilized another $119 billion in co-financing to safeguard the global environment.
The GEF is the world’s primary multilateral source of biodiversity finance and is the only multilateral environmental fund whose mandate is to achieve global environmental benefits across a diverse set of focal areas that also includes chemicals and waste, climate change mitigation, land degradation (including desertification and deforestation), and international waters.
The GEF Partnership spans 184 member governments, 18 implementing agencies, more than 500 civil society organizations, international bodies and funds, and businesses from every major sector.