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Sustaining Water Ecosystems

April 16, 2003—The Global Environment Facility (GEF) recently announced it was contributing another $400 million to address critical global water problems over the next four years, which brought its total investment for water issues to more than $1.37 billion by 2007.

This contribution coincided with the Third World Water Forum, which brought to the forefront global water issues as well as actions that countries and institutions must take to attain the global targets set at last year’s World Summit on Sustainable Development.

"Degradation of our land and water presents an enormously complex challenge," said Mohamed T. El-Ashry, CEO and Chairman of the Global Environment Facility.

"GEF’s contribution will fund projects in developing countries that seek to sustain our planet’s water ecosystems while yielding national, regional, and global benefits."

The GEF investment comes at a time when much of the world's population already lacks access to safe drinking water as well as basic sanitation.

Projections are that by 2025 more than half the people on our planet will be living with water scarcity.

In addition, freshwater resources are in critically short supply and are of poor quality in many parts of the world. Coastal and ocean waters, and vital resources such as fisheries and coral reefs, are similarly threatened.

Keeping the Promise on Water, a new publication by the GEF, emphasizes the need for increased cooperation among countries to sustainably manage our planet’s water ecosystems. Other recommendations include the need for integrated management of land and water resources, as well as the protection of aquatic biodiversity for sustainable use. The publication is available on the GEF Web site,

GEF works with 139 countries on projects to strengthen the integrated management of land and water resources that are so critical to ecosystem health, poverty reduction, and sustainable development. A total of $974 million committed by GEF over the past twelve years has leveraged $2.1 billion in cofinancing from other sources for water-related projects.

"We expect that GEF’s contributions to water-related projects over the next four years will leverage significant investments from other sources, including governments and the private sector," said El-Ashry.

The Global Environment Facility is an international financial organization with 174 member countries that acts as a major catalyst for improving the global environment. Since its creation in 1991, the GEF has allocated $4.5 billion in grants and leveraged an additional $12 billion in co-financing from other sources to support more than 1,000 projects in 140 developing nations and countries with economies in transition.

GEF is the official financing "engine" for the international agreements on biodiversity, climate change, and persistent organic pollutants, while supporting efforts to control land degradation and improve international waters.


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