The Global Environment Facility (GEF) faces a demanding yet seemingly attainable task: to help countries foster a transformation in how individuals, communities, and businesses use and protect the natural word. But nothing less will suffice if we are to meet pressing environmental challenges and safeguard the global commons.
Since its inception the GEF has organized its efforts within several largely independent focal areas, including biodiversity, climate change mitigation, and sustainable land management. But it has become increasingly clear that not only are those challenges closely intertwined, they are also linked in numerous and complex ways to questions of economics, governance, health, equity, and many others.
While some problems can be best addressed with a relatively narrow focus — for example, improving protected area management and infrastructure to ensure the conservation of biodiversity and other natural assets — many others cannot. We have no realistic hope of improving the lives of people, especially those who are poor and often hence most directly dependent on natural resources, unless we consider how ecological factors shape their health, access to energy, and the availability of productive land.