FAO secures GEF $70m for projects in 28 countries

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has helped 28 countries unlock $70 million in financing from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to address urban sustainability, groundwater management, biodiversity loss, climate change and land degradation.

Speaking on the fund, the FAO Deputy Director-General Maria Helena Semedo after the projects were greenlighted by the Councils for the GEF Trust Fund and the Least Developed Countries Fund on Friday said “These initiatives will help to increase the resilience of those on the front lines of climate change, biodiversity loss, and land degradation

“These integrated agrifood system solutions will help countries and communities address complex environmental challenges and make a real difference to lives, livelihoods and our planet.

The projects will contribute to the implementation of key FAO strategies in areas including climate change, biodiversity and integrated land and water resources management, Semedo noted.

Among the 28 countries, three projects in Algeria, Chile, and Zimbabwe are advancing FAO’s work on urban agrifood systems, including the FAO Green Cities Initiative, by joining GEF’s Sustainable Cities Integrated Program.

The program unites 20 countries and nine agencies, including FAO, to catalyze transformation towards nature-positive, climate-resilient, and carbon-neutral urban developments.

FAO will help Algeria integrate ecosystem-based solutions, such as green spaces and circular waste management approaches, into its New Cities Presidential Initiative. The project aims to restore 17,500 hectares of green spaces and urban and peri-urban forests, improve practices on over 21,000 hectares of landscapes, mitigate more than 715,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, and directly benefit 1,090,000 people.

Chile will receive FAO support to enhance ecosystem-based solutions and green infrastructure networks for biodiversity and climate change mitigation and adaptation in four cities. It aims to improve practices on over 1,325,000 hectares of landscapes, mitigate over 14,900 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, and directly benefit nearly 732,000 people.

The Organization will help Zimbabwe address ecosystem degradation and pollution in its two most populous cities through enhanced data analysis, urban agroforestry and greening, ecosystem restoration, and public-private partnerships. It aims to restore 300 hectares of forests and wetlands, improve practices on 136 hectares of landscapes, mitigate over 24,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, and directly benefit 6,000 people.

Seven countries in Central America – Belize, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama – will collaborate to scale up a source-to-sea management approach to holistically manage inland resources and coastal ecosystems.

The project will enhance the biodiversity, water security, and Blue Economy of 12 large watersheds and the Caribbean and Pacific large marine ecosystems that flank the countries. The project aims to improve the management of over 1.8 million hectares of protected areas on land and sea, restore 300 hectares of wetlands, improve practices on over 353,000 hectares of landscapes, and directly benefit 350,000 people.

Fourteen Caribbean states – Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago – will upscale sustainable soil management in the second phase of the SOILCARE initiative. By supporting countries to achieve land degradation neutrality targets, the project will help the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) manage land resources for more productive and climate-resilient agrifood systems and livelihoods. The project aims to restore 28,000 hectares of agricultural lands, improve management of nearly 70,000 hectares of land, and directly benefit at least 6,900 farmers.

In Mauritania, the approved project will restore, promote inclusive use, and improve the integrated management of landscapes for agriculture, livestock and forestry to combat desertification, improve climate change mitigation and adaptation, and enhance biodiversity in the Gum Arabic belt. The project aims to restore 80,000 hectares of forest land, including 40,000 hectares of pasture and 300 km of livestock corridors, and mitigate 313,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions. The project also targets 60,000 direct beneficiaries.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, FAO and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) will implement a project to advance land degradation neutrality and improve the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity by enhancing the management of important spaces for biodiversity and developing integrated spatial land use plans. The project aims to improve management over 193,000 hectares of biodiversity conservation spaces, including protected areas, key biodiversity areas, and high conservation value forests. The project will also restore 1,500 ha of degraded agricultural lands, mitigate over 2 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, and directly benefit 100,000 people.

Through the GEF’s Least Developed Countries Fund, FAO will support Angola and Tanzania to adapt to climate change through community-based approaches.

In Angola, the project will enhance the resilience of livelihoods, food security and nutrition to climate change through sustainable land and forest management, strengthened agrifood value chains, and land tenure for smallholder farmers. The project aims to improve the management of 250,000 hectares of land for climate resilience, directly benefit 180,000 people and train 100,000 people.

In Tanzania, the project will address the country’s rapidly expanding livestock sector and increased land degradation and water stress in drylands through sustainable land management and strengthened climate data systems. The project aims to improve the management of 20,000 hectares of land for climate resilience, directly benefit approximately 1.5 million people and train or raise the awareness of 175,000 people on climate change adaptation.