Subject: Protect the Global Environment Facility
Dear Members of Congress,
As a constituent, I am writing to urge your support for funding the U.S. contribution to the Global Environment Facility (GEF) at $140 million within Title V of the FY18 State, Foreign Operations and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. This modest enhancement of $4 million over the FY18 Senate State, Foreign Operations and Related Agencies Appropriations bill would allow the U.S. to fulfill its commitment to support the important work of the GEF.
The GEF is an independent international financial institution that provides grants to support sustainable use of natural capital and improved management of natural resources. For 25 years, with nearly $16.4 billion in investments, the GEF has leveraged $88 billion in co-financing from private, philanthropic and public sectors. Through its strategic investments, the GEF works with governments, civil society, the private sector and other partners to tackle the planet's biggest environmental issues. With nearly 4,400 projects in 183 countries, the GEF is the largest single financier of conservation. GEF funding also helps reduce poverty, strengthen governance, and achieve greater equality between women and men.
The GEF supports U.S. national security goals abroad. Illegal wildlife trafficking is a transnational organized crime worth billions of dollars annually and is used as a source of financing for extremist groups that threaten U.S. security interests, including groups with ties to terrorism in Africa. For this reason, the President included fighting wildlife trafficking in his Executive Order on transnational organized crime earlier this year. Wildlife trafficking is driving species such as rhinos and elephants toward extinction while undermining rule of law and good governance, robbing communities of their natural capital, and depleting wildlife resources that might otherwise serve as a foundation for sustainable development. The GEF is working with both supply and demand countries to strengthen national legislation, enhance wildlife law enforcement and improve monitoring to reduce poaching and the illegal trade in wildlife parts and products.
Funding for the GEF is also a cost-effective way to support U.S. economic interests. Illegal logging in foreign countries, for example, costs the U.S. timber industry more than $1 billion annually in lost export opportunities and depressed prices for American lumber and wood products. The GEF works with the U.S. Forest Service, as well as other donor countries, to reduce illegal logging in places such as the Amazon and Congo Basins, key sources of illegal timber that floods global markets.
U.S. support for this important institution is under threat. I urge you to support fully funding the GEF in Title V of the FY18 State, Foreign Operations and Related Agencies Appropriations Act at $140 million. Thank you for considering my request.
[First Name] [Last Name]