Protecting Primary Forests and Their Ecological Integrity Is Critical to the Climate and Biodiversity Crisis
During the CBD COP 15 on Wednesday, 14 December, Carlos Manuel Rodríguez, CEO and Chair, Global Environment Facility (GEF), facilitated a discussion with countries and institutions involved in the conservation of primary forests and their multiple ecosystem services. The event, held in the GEF Pavilion, included a panel discussion on how conserving primary forests appears the easiest solution to the twin crisis of biodiversity and climate, yet requires additional recognition globally. Panelists explored how to seize the political window and further incentivize global, national, and local actions for conservation. Rodríguez explained that a “huge gap” exists between discussions in the side events and decisions in the negotiations. Highlighting the role of forests to effectively address climate change, he called for increased political coherence in order to shift from perverse to positive incentives for forests.
Cyril Kormos, Founder and Executive Director, Wild Heritage, reiterated the “hyper-concentration” of benefits in forests. Gustavo Manrique Miranda, Minister of Environment, Water and Ecological Transition, Ecuador, shared experiences, identifying the need for employment. Heike Henn, Director, Climate, Energy and Environment, Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), Germany, praised the GEF-8 integrated programming, explaining that investing in the GEF is “putting the money where it works best.”
Valerie Hickey, World Bank, described how the GEF leveraged USD 530 million to unlock USD 2.5 billion from the World Bank in one year alone, saying: “Everyone is talking about the need for a biodiversity fund. We already have one and it is called the GEF, and it is working.”