GEF Fourth Assembly Address by Rebeca Grynspan

May 25, 2010

I am honored to have this opportunity to address this Fourth Assembly of the GEF.

Es un gusto para mi estar aquí en Uruguay, un país con el que me unen estrechos lazos de amistad desde tiempo atrás y que por su nivel de desarrollo humano y sostenido esfuerzo  por la   equidad y la inclusión social  es un referente para todos nosotros.

Ademas Uruguay es un ejemplo de un país que ha aprovechado el GEF para generar transformaciones muy importantes a favor del desarrollo sustentable en el Sistema Nacional de areas protegidas, en la incorporación de energias renovables no tradicionales y en la   lucha contra el cambio climatico a nivel local.

We all know that this is a very exciting time for the GEF partnership – the replenishment currently pledged is the largest ever increase in funding for the GEF. As we prepare to embark on this new chapter of GEF-5, please allow me to share with you three important perspectives from UNDP:

First – we must continue to stress that climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time.  In addressing this challenge, UNDP is convinced that climate change is fundamentally a development issue.    It affects all aspects of life and, if not properly addressed, its impacts could reverse the hard-won human development gains achieved in so many developing countries.

Second – national ownership is critical to effectively addressing climate change, conserving biological diversity, arresting land degradation, and maintaining ecosystem services. Alignment with national and local priorities is also critical for developing the synergies between environment and development finance that are so necessary for poverty reduction and MDG achievement.

Third – climate change brings uncertainty when it comes to future climate conditions and development options. Ecosystem degradation stands to aggravate climate change and increase the vulnerabilities of societies, particularly the poor, to climate change.  The risk of simply reacting to changes in the short-term could result in poor investment decisions whose costs would add to the direct costs of global warming. A significant challenge for decision-makers in the years to come will therefore be to identify development strategies which are effective under a wide range of possible climate outcomes.

Accordingly, a key goal of UNDP, as the UN development network, is to help developing countries mainstream environmental concerns into national development policies and investments, in order to achieve human development in a changing climate.

Although the sums involved in shifting to a low carbon and climate resilient economy and arresting ecosystem degradation, often seem daunting, they are not impossible to achieve. As a GEF agency, and complementary to the other partners’ comparative advantage, UNDP’s in country presence, expertise in capacity building, and extensive experience in accessing public and private financing, has made us a good partner for these collective efforts. By assisting national and local governments to build capacities to formulate, finance, and implement low carbon and climate resilient strategies, we also help them connect the social, economic, ecological, and climate change agendas to tackle challenges that have direct impact on poverty and vulnerabilities.  Part of the success in making that happen has been UNDP’s capacity to mobilize co-financing, which on average has amounted to three times that allocated by the GEF.

Allow me to conclude by emphasising that we at UNDP regard the GEF as a key component of the global environment architecture. Its strength lies in its distinctive quality as a partnership between individual countries, United Nations agencies, multilateral development banks, multilateral environment conventions, and civil society, with the aim of catalysing co-operation for fostering sustainable human development.

The value of that partnership is exemplified by the commitment of all those present here today.

Thank you.

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