The Sixth Assembly of the Global Environment Facility (GEF6) concluded in the central Vietnamese city of Da Nang on Thursday with a call for joint efforts to transform the world’s key economic systems toward a circular and sustainable economy.
“If you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, go together,” said Naoko Ishii, CEO and chairperson of the GEF, as she delivered her remarks at the assembly’s closing session.
“Our only chance to avoid disaster is to transform our key economic systems; our food and land use system, our cities, our energy system, and move on to a circular economy,” she said, stressing that until now, things have not been changing fast enough.
Naoko, who had spent some time working in Vietnam more than 20 years ago, said of how the commitments made by Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc in his opening remarks on Wednesday had “inspired” all delegates to work closely over the two-day meeting to discuss issues vital to the survival of our planet.
In total, 14 round-tables on such issues were held, all of which sharing a similar message: the world must work together and “de-silo ourselves” to get things done, she noted.
‘Inspiration’ was also the recurring theme in the closing remarks by Tran Hong Ha, Vietnamese Minister of Natural Resources and Environment.
“I am inspired by the enthusiasm and commitment made by all of us in joint efforts to address the problems, in particularly those related to emerging issues such as marine plastic waste, biodiversity losses and climate change,” Minister Ha addressed the assembly.
He called for GEF member states to “turn agreements into actions” for a more resilient, sustainable and life-affirming planet for the current and future generations.
Addressing a press conference after the GEF Assembly closure, Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Le Cong Thanh said the transition toward a circular economy would require efforts from all sectors of the society and not just from governing bodies.
“We will continue to do research and learning from advanced economic models in foreign countries for adoption in Vietnam,” Thanh said.
Examples of a circular economy can be as simple as using husks as fuel and making use of the heat from AC inverters to boil water, he said, suggesting Vietnamese people may have been applying the economic theory in their daily lives without even realizing it.
The Global Environment Facility was established on the eve of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit with the aim of helping tackle the planet’s most pressing environmental problems. Vietnam joined the GEF in 1994.
The GEF Assembly is composed of all 183 member countries and territories that meet every three to four years at the ministerial level.
The Sixth GEF Assembly was held over Wednesday and Thursday in Vietnam’s Da Nang, where delegates reviewed its general policies, operations and membership.
During the two-day event, 29 sponsors also pledged to provide a US$4.1 billion donation to environmental protection activities worldwide over the next four years.