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UN official welcomes new pledges to global environment fund

UN official welcomes new pledges to global environment fund

A senior United Nations official today hailed the decision by donor countries to up their support for a multibillion-dollar environment fund, calling it an "important boost" for the World Summit on Sustainable Development, which opens in Johannesburg, South Africa, later this month.

Speaking to journalists in Paris, Klaus Toepfer, the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), welcomed the fact that 32 Governments have agreed on a $2.92 billion replenishment of the Global Environment Facility (GEF), as the fund is known.

Mr. Toepfer said the replenishment boded well for success at the Johannesburg meeting. "The World Summit on Sustainable Development will be a crucial test of the world's enthusiasm for tackling the very pressing problems facing people and the planet today," he observed. "The pledges for the GEF replenishment show that in one critical area we are starting to move from words to implementation."

Over the past 10 years, the GEF has committed more than $4 billion and mobilized some $11 billion for more than 1,000 projects in 160 countries, according to UNEP. Among other initiatives, the Facility has helped developing countries to cope with the impacts of global warming, conserve wildlife, monitor and improve the state of international waters, and overcome land degradation.