The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has welcomed the decision of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to approve three FAO-led projects in five countries, totaling $18 million in funding.
The three new projects – in Nigeria, Venezuela and a regional initiative encompassing Malawi, Mozambique, and Uganda – will improve the management of protected areas, protect biodiversity in lowland forests, and build water security and resilience.
“Resilient and productive land and aquatic ecosystems are the foundation of sustainable agri-food systems transformation,” said FAO Deputy Director-General Maria Helena Semedo. “The approval of these three projects strengthens our ability to help countries move on a path of sustainability that leaves no one behind”.
The biodiversity conservation project in Venezuela will address key barriers to the sustainable use of biodiversity in order to support the effective management of five existing Protected Areas in the Caroni River Basin in the Guiana Massif, one of the most pristine and biodiverse areas on the planet.
The regional project across Malawi, Mozambique, and Uganda will bring the sustainable management of groundwater to the forefront of water security for resilient livelihoods, ecosystems, and investments in Africa. It supports the African Ministers’ Council on Water through their Pan-African Groundwater Program.
The project in Nigeria will improve the conservation, sustainable use, and restoration of a lowland forest landscape to protect globally significant biodiversity and strengthen the sustainable livelihoods of local communities. The project will improve the management of a severely threatened, 1-million-hectare landscape encompassing 12 forest reserves and the Okomu national park. One of the aims is to replicate successes across the full Nigerian lowland forests eco-region.
The three projects, approved on Tuesday at the 62nd Council Meeting of the GEF, held in McLean, Virginia, United States of America, will improve management for conservation and the sustainable use of over 8.3 million hectares of protected areas, bring 10 000 hectares of land under improved management, and restore another 24 000 hectares of forest and natural grasslands. They will also mitigate 4.3 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions, and directly support nearly 92,000 people, including indigenous peoples and local communities.
The approval of these three projects marks the end of the GEF’s 2018-2022 funding cycle, the most productive four-year period in the FAO-GEF partnership to date, with over $600 million in grant financing secured for member countries. These grants support 96 countries in tackling the most pressing issues at the intersection of agrifood systems and the environment.
The past four years of investments from the FAO-GEF partnership will support member countries to improve the management of 150 million hectares of landscapes and seascapes, restore nearly 4 million hectares of land, and change over 2 million tons of overly exploited fisheries to sustainable levels . The investments will also mitigate over 570 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions. More than 13 million women, men, and children will directly benefit from the investments.
The GEF is a partnership of 18 agencies, including FAO, and 184 countries that address the world’s most challenging environmental issues related to biodiversity, climate change, land degradation, chemicals, and international waters. It provides grants to countries to meet these challenges while contributing to key development goals, such as food security.