Monique Barbut, CEO and Chairwoman of the Global Environment Facility -- the largest funder of projects to improve the global environment and one of the funders of Development Markektplace 2008 -- talked about GEF's role in the grant competition.
Q. GEF deals with multimillion-dollar programs. DM2008's projects are in the $200,000 or less range. Why are they important to GEF?
A. GEF is mostly doing big programs with governments. We want to show that we can also address biodviersity, climate change, and all the other global environmental questions with more decentralized and more market-type approaches with small enterprises. The themes this year are totally appropriate – agricultural markets, land tenure, biodiversity, and climate change -- so it was a perfect fit for us.
Q. How can a relatively small number of projects at the village-level make an impact on poverty that’s measured in the billions of people?
A. The interest in these projects is what it brings in replicability. Only an institution like the World Bank can do a $1 billion project. A $200,000 project can be financed by many private and smaller banking systems. By giving the example, we show there are routes that many institutions can take. Also, some say our programs don’t touch the people directly. For these smaller projects, it’s the know-how of the people we’ll be helping. The full value is the human capacity of people – and this is good, especially because of the cost and it's replicable. We have to be humble enough to understand that there is a lot more we can be doing. We have to set the example.
Q. We hear a lot about climate change and its impact on agriculture. What's the GEF doing and how does DM2008 fit in?
A. Climate change and agriculture is a fundamental subject we’re dealing with. In Africa today we see more and more crops do not resist the rising of temperature and desertification. So adopting agricultural methods to climate change we have invest in both large-scale programs and smaller ones like those that are featured in Development Marketplace 2008.