Global Environment Fund wants to coordinate green supply chains

The Global Environment Facility, which has provided $13.5 billion in grants to developing nations since 1991, wants a wider role in protecting nature by tightening commodity supply chains from farmers to consumers.

Naoko Ishii, chief executive officer of the 183-nation GEF, told Reuters that efforts to safeguard tropical forests from land clearance to make way, for instance, for palm oil plantations were hampered by a lack of oversight.

In that example, reducing forest clearances would have to involve banks to prevent lending to loggers on protected land, as well as small farm owners, governments and big companies such as Nestle SA or Unilever.

“What is missing is maybe somebody that brings every stakeholder together” to tighten loopholes in supply chains, she said during United Nations talks in Lima on a deal to combat global warming.

The GEF, set up in 1991 as a World Bank pilot programme, would be willing to help take on a wider coordinating role, she said.

She said she recently flew over Indonesia and witnessed deforestation to clear land for palm oil plantations or fast-growing trees to produce pulp. “It is devastating to see,” she said.

A problem in international finance, she said, is that natural services, such as pollination by bees, coral reefs that are nurseries for fish or forests that help soak up carbon dioxide, are usually treated as free.

“My next target is how to put economic value to this natural capital and how to link it up to the international institutions, capital markets,” she said.

She said she did not fear that the GEF would be overshadowed in future by the UN’s new Green Climate Fund, which has won almost $10 billion in pledges in recent weeks to help developing nations cope with climate change.

The GEF has a broader role than just climate, she noted. It also makes investments to protect the diversity of plant and animal life by helping setting up parks and other protected areas.

A report by the London-based Overseas Development Institute on Monday, however, said there were too many multilateral climate funds with overlapping mandates.

“The climate finance architecture is too complex,” it said, “with insufficient resources spread thinly across many small funds with overlapping remits.”

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