GEF: Virtual Leaders’ Climate Summit announced at GEF Assembly



Sixth GEF Assembly opens with strong support for transformation agenda



Around fifty heads of government will hold the world's first-ever virtual summit to renew political momentum in tackling climate change, Hilda Heine, the President of the Marshall Islands announced at the opening of the Global Environment Facility's (GEF) Assembly on June 27 in Da Nang, Viet Nam, to international acclaim.



The carbon-free summit, on November 22nd, will bring together leaders of the 48-nation Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF), which represents many of the countries most threatened by climate change. President Emmanuel Macron of France, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. of California and Naoko Ishii, CEO and Chairperson of the GEF, were among leading international figures who immediately welcomed it.



The announcement was one of the highlights of an opening session which heard from heads of government and UN bodies, and top business leaders, and scientists.



President Heine – whose low-lying country will soon assume the chairmanship of the CVF – said that the summit “will be convened entirely online as a 'Virtual Summit', showcasing our intentions to work in new and innovative ways, and to build broader coalitions across society for the change we need”.



She added that her country – which played a leading role at the 2015 Paris climate summit – had committed to reduce its emissions by 32 per cent from 2010 levels, and would bring forward a “new and more ambitious target” for 2030, “even though our contribution to global warming is infinitesimal”. It had also taken strong action to protect the ocean on which it relies.          



President Heine told the 1,200 delegates, including representatives from all of the GEF’s 183 member countries, that the Marshall Islands was grappling with “an existential threat in the face of the growing environmental crisis”. But she added that the Assembly was “an engine room of hope” and was “at the forefront of efforts to help overcome this crisis, adding that the GEFs expenditure over the years “constitutes perhaps the most impressive single contribution to safeguarding the environment”.          



She explained: “Thousands of protected areas have been created, the integrity of hundreds of millions of hectares of land safeguarded, and support was made possible to critical watersheds around the world.          



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