This article was originally published on The Economist Group’s World Ocean Initiative.


“Naoko Ishii, chief executive and chair of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) calls for a fundamental rethink in our relationship with the environment to support a sustainable economy and social well-being.

How does the GEF achieve maximum value and benefit for sustainable development?

Our annual budget of US$1bn may sound like a lot, but it is a small amount of money given the scale of the global sustainability crisis. The challenge is how we place that “drop in the ocean” in the right place to maximise its impact. I believe working with committed businesses and governments is the best way to do this.

The annual global risks report for the World Economic Forum in Davos found that the five most likely risks facing the global economy are environmental—the first time this has happened. At Davos, I saw more and more companies seriously committed to doing things differently to mitigate these risks.

The health of the global environment is worsening and political leaders seem unable—and some even unwilling—to take the action needed, especially to cut carbon emissions. In the crucial year of 2020, how can we increase countries’ ambition and make better progress on sustainable development?

With the UN ocean conference in Lisbon, the biodiversity convention in Kunming, and the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow, 2020 is a “super-year” of environmental events. This is a great opportunity to understand the root cause of the environmental crisis. It’s not just a carbon issue, fundamentally it’s a collision between nature and human activities—climate change is just one aspect.

We need to change our economic system so that we can continue to prosper within planetary boundaries. The real challenge is how to open up people’s minds to recognise this. The year 2020 will be a great opportunity to do this. Although the final outcome of COP25 was a disappointment, it showed that people are demanding action on climate change. Businesses increasingly understand that their bottom lines are threatened by environmental challenges. A coalition of governments, citizens and businesses can achieve the paradigm shift in our economy.”

Read on at: The Economist Group’s World Ocean Initiative.