More ‘Dirty’ Energy Is ‘Mission’ Failure: GEF

Naoko Ishii, the newly appointed chief executive and chair of the Global Environment Facility, likes to cite the 1:10 rule when asked about the impact of the grants that GEF provides. “$1 billion from us leads to $10 billion impact, as co-financiers step in,” she said in an interview from her office in Washington, a city she moved to after resigning as the Japanese government’s deputy vice-minister of finance.

In the two months that she has been at the helm, she has seen a GEF-backed geothermal plant “for the first time” in Kenya, developed a liking for renewable energy, articulated a new role for GEF and successfully managed the transition from being a donor government representative on the design committee of the proposed $100 billion Global Climate Fund to an aide to that fund.

GEF was set up 20 years ago as a pilot program of the World Bank to promote sustainable development. It has since provided some $10.5 billion in grants to various projects, of which $1.2 billion has been pumped into 250 renewable energy projects in more than 100 countries.

Q: After your Kenya visit, do you think there is a case for increasing renewable energy investments in the region?

A: The Kenya plant is one of GEF’s successful investments. There is interest now in geothermal in other African countries like Rwanda, Zambia, Tanzania and Morocco

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