Collaboration makes a difference
JAMES D. WOLFENSOHN
describes how GEF-funded demonstrations
should act as beacons for environmentally
The World Bank's contribution to the GEF, the principal international funding mechanism for the global environment, extends far beyond funding. The Bank's partnership with the GEF helps to combine global environmental protection with economic development. Through GEF-funded demonstration and learning, the Bank can transform development practices and ensure that non-GEF funds complement the Facility's environmental objectives.As one of three partners in the
GEF alliance, the Bank is currently implementing GEF projects worth about $1 billion. For fiscal year 1997, Bank management approved 69 projects in more than 50 countries, totalling GEF grant commitments of $675 million with co-financing of an additional $2.85 billion.
Our mutually supportive relationship with the GEF is perhaps best illustrated through project examples. The GEF has provided a grant of $32.8 million in China toward an initiative that is helping to cut greenhouse gases by adapting high efficiency foreign technologies to local conditions for coal-fired industrial boilers. The Bank is also active in GEF-supported projects promoting sustainable use and pollution mitigation in the Black Sea Basin. GEF/World Bank projects totalling over $200 million target the phase-out of ozone depleting substances in nine Eastern European countries.
GEF-supported programmes often involve inter-agency collaboration and coordination of project activities across national frontiers. One such initiative has brought together the World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme and UNEP to support the Central American countries in their efforts to establish and protect the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor. This corridor, also known as the Paseo Pantera, or Path of the Jaguar, is a corridor of diverse terrain stretching from Mexico to Colombia. It is home to hundreds of thousands of people, and is the natural habitat of jaguars, the rare harpy eagles, and many other animals and plants. In Honduras, Bank funding is targeted at sustainable forestry and agriculture; in Nicaragua the focus is on intensifying farming in non-Corridor areas; and, in Panama, the Bank is supporting farming in non-Corridor areas, as well as land-use planning. In turn, GEF national project activities are focusing on establishing and protecting the Corridor through the joint efforts of local groups. Other donors are also pitching in, including The Netherlands, the Nordic countries, the United States of America and Canada.
These collaborative initiatives to protect our global commons will
make a difference to future generations and will forge a path we want our children to follow. They are compelling examples of why the GEF deserves continuing support.
James D. Wolfensohn is President of the World Bank.