By Vishal Gulati
Playing a crucial role to mitigate climate change and other environmental challenges across the globe, India on Tuesday announced it will increase for the next four years the money it pays to the Global Environment Facility (GEF), a mechanism to provide grants for environment projects.
India too is one of the eight beneficiary nations to get funding of the equal amount by the GEF to tackle unsustainable fisheries in the Bay of Bengal.
India's representative to GEF Council, Aparna Subramani, made the announcement to increase the money it pays to the GEF at its meeting in Da Nang.
Subramani, who represents India in the World Bank and a representative of Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka, besides her home country in the GEF Council, told the gathering that India has decided to increase its commitments from $12 million to $15 million to the GEF's new four-year investment cycle, known as GEF-7.
GEF CEO and Chairperson Naoko Ishii, who opened the GEF council meeting on June 24, thanked India for increasing its financial support, which will go to other developing countries to deal with urgent environmental crises.
Subramani also said at the council meeting that NGOs getting money for GEF projects should not remain the same over years. This point was immediately supported by the delegate from Argentina.
The GEF Council is meeting two months after governments, in a demonstration of confidence, approved a $4.1 billion replenishment of GEF-7.
GEF, established on the eve of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit to help tackle the planet's most pressing environmental problems, has provided $17.9 billion in grants and mobilised an additional $93.2 billion in financing for more than 4,500 projects in 170 countries.
India, among the world's most vulnerable countries to climate change, is both a donor and a recipient of GEF, an international partnership of 183 countries.
The GEF Council will be followed by the sixth GEF Assembly (June 27-28), which meets every four years, and is expecting 1,200 participants, including heads of state, environment ministers, UN, NGO and business leaders.
Speaking at a session on the sidelines of the GEF Council, Nikunja K. Sundaray, Joint Secretary in the Indian Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, said the implantation of the next phase of the Bay of Bengal Large Marine Ecosystem (BOBLME) programme with a funding of $15 million will result in additional benefits for India too.
"This will contribute to major global environment and socio-economic benefits with regard to transboundary ecosystem management, biodiversity conservation and sustainable development," Sundaray told IANS.
The GEF says the BOBLME progarmme will help conserving a region rich in marine resources on which some 450 million people depend.
The "Sustainable Management of the Bay of Bengal Large Marine Ecosystem Programme', with funding through the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), will address the three major pressures facing shared ocean ecosystems - unsustainable fishing, pollution and the destruction of habitat, while improving livelihoods and increasing resilience.
The beneficiaries other than India are Bangladesh, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Maldives, Malaysia and Thailand.