Life support systems under siege

OUR PLANET 9.4 - Fresh Water

Life support systems under siege


outlines UNDP's role as implementing
agency for the GEF

the sea

Clean and productive environments, sustainable resource consumption and stable climate patterns are not the heritage of any one country or of any one generation. They are the life support systems of the entire planet. Sadly, they are under siege by rich and poor nations alike.The six-year-old GEF partnership of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Bank and UNEP, has launched hundreds of innovative projects for the preservation of our global environment. These projects are located in developing countries but they are for the good of all nations, contributing to cleaner oceans, a greater respect for our ecosystems and biodiversity, and a greater understanding of humankind's individual and collective responsibilities.

Environmental challenges

As GEF implementing agency, UNDP is dedicated to building the human and institutional capacities that developing countries need to face the environmental challenges ahead. We are fully committed to the efforts of the GEF tripartite partnership to build a sustainable relationship between human development and the global environment.

In this International Year of the Ocean, efforts to safeguard our oceans and coastal zones are reflected in 39 GEF projects focused exclusively on international waters, and numerous biodiversity projects that directly benefit coastal areas. UNDP is the implementing agency for 19 GEF international waters projects.

Marine ecosystems

A highlight of our tripartite endeavours is a joint $19 million project to implement a Strategic Action Programme for the protection of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden marine ecosystem. This project demonstrates a holistic approach to environmental and transboundary management of Red Sea resources under the auspices of the Red Sea Convention, integrating poverty eradication and environmental aspects.It addresses maritime transport and ports management, marine protected areas, integrated coastal zone management, living marine resources, public awareness and capacity-building at regional level, monitoring and evaluation. As in all its GEF projects, UNDP's role will be to enhance the human capacity to utilize the information, knowledge, and technology necessary to halt environmental degradation while simultaneously generating sustainable, income-producing options for the poor and marginalized.

The UNDP-GEF portfolio

In addition to its regular projects, the UNDP-GEF portfolio includes over one hundred 'enabling activities' to assist country efforts to meet the obligations established by the Convention on Biological Diversity and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Enabling activities also help countries integrate global environmental assessments into their national development strategies. UNDP itself is integrating global environmental perspectives into all its programmes. UNDP Bureaux and Country Office staff are also actively seeking out opportunities to combine resources managed by UNDP with those provided by the GEF, bilateral agencies, and others, for global environmental preservation efforts.

This first GEF Assembly provides an unprecedented opportunity for dialogue on the successes and shortcomings of the GEF's first six years. I look forward to participating in that dialogue with the hope that together we can take the actions necessary to improve the Facility and carry its work forward into the 21st century.

James Gustave Speth is the Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme

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