ISLAMABAD: The governing body of Global Environment Facility (GEF) has approved a new project in Pakistan to turn waste from the banana value chain into sustainable bio-based textiles.
The project was announced during a session of the GEF council in Brazil. Pakistan will receive a grant of $3.73 million over six years.
Funding from GEF will valorise waste from banana production in Sindh. It joins 25 other FAO-led initiatives selected as part of the next GEF cycle at the June council, which together will receive $174.7m in GEF funding and leverage an estimated $1.2 billion in co-financing.
The “Bananas in Pakistan’s Bio-economy: Transforming Waste into Textile” project is part of the GEF’s plan for eliminating hazardous chemicals from the supply chains integrated programme. It focuses specifically on the fashion and construction sectors.
The programme aims to stimulate innovations in new materials, technologies, and practices; create markets and demand such innovations; and embed the principle of “green by design”.
Welcoming the funding, Lev Neretin, who leads the FAO programme priority area on bio-economy for Sustainable Food and Agriculture, said: “This GEF grant is a recognition of the strong foundations in sustainable bio-economy that FAO has laid over many years.
FAO members endorsed bio-economy as a strategic priority for the next decade, and we are now moving into a new phase of more concerted action on the ground.“
It is estimated about two-thirds of biomass produced during banana production is wasted. The new project in Pakistan aims to turn waste into value-added products, bolstering food security and rural livelihoods while developing alternative, bio-based textiles that require fewer chemicals and are much kinder to the environment.
Florence Rolle, the FAO representative in Pakistan, also celebrated the award of the GEF grant. “Turning non-edible waste from the banana value chain into sustainably produced fabrics is a win-win situation,” she remarked.
“It extracts more value from the inputs used to produce the banana plants and from banana residues, while at the same
time offering extra income opportunities and teaching new skills to rural populations, in particular women.
“Pakistan is showing how to lead in sustainable bio-economy innovation, and this grant from the GEF will be a catalyst for more sustainable agri-food system transformation down the line,” she said.
The GEF Council’s support for the record work programme addressing the root causes of environmental damage came amid momentum for environmental diplomacy, following recent breakthrough deals on biodiversity and the high seas, and progress on plastics and other issues.
Published in Dawn, June 29th, 2023