News and Updates

STAP presents at the GEF International Waters Science Conference 2012 (IWSC 2012)

Jakob Granit Chair of WG11_1_0STAP presents at the GEF International Waters Science Conference 2012 (IWSC 2012) “Setting the International Waters Science Agenda for the next Decade.”

[T]he IW Science Conference 2012 held on 24-26 September, 2012 in Bangkok, Thailand  aimed to address science needs, highlight science-based results and technological innovations achieved by the projects in the GEF International Waters portfolio over the past 20 years, but also to improve the measurement and delivery of results, inform the portfolio of new developments and emerging issues from relevant fields, enhance the use of science in the GEF IW portfolio and help set the science agenda for the IW portfolio. Over the last three years the GEF UNEP-UNU IW:Science project has uncovered some of the key findings and success factors in enhancing the use of science in GEF IW projects. The IWSC 2012 provided a key forum for bringing these findings to a wider audience.

STAP was helping GEF partners to prepare the conference and provided important input to its discussions. STAP member, Jakob Granit, organized and moderated a critical session at this meeting discussing science-policy interface. The session emphasized that the main objectives of the GEF International Waters focal area – the promotion of collective management for transboundary water systems with the aim of contributing to sustainable use and maintenance of ecosystem services - remains as relevant today as it was when formulated in 1995. The GEF has created well-respected tools to apply science to determine baseline status, project design and management in addressing challenging issues in transboundary waters, but the main cause of the continuing degradation of transboundary water systems remains to be due to governance and not a science deficit. Given the evolution of governance from top-down government-driven towards a ‘network-centric’ world in which civil society, business and government collectively negotiate outcomes and benefits, based on a nexus of drivers including water security, energy security, food security and the provision of ecosystem goods and services, science needs to be relevant for collective action.

Accordingly the role of social sciences should be increased within the GEF to support policy choices for collective action. “Transboundary waters governance and management may link more strongly to the emerging broader regional political and economic frameworks and institutions and it could be argued that leveraging of regional economic institutions is key to ensuring sustainability beyond the catalytic GEF intervention. The TDA/SAP process could be augmented to widen the evidence base underpinning policy impact and post-project up-scaling of GEF results; upstream activities addressing the political economy of cooperation could be included.” – noted Jakob Granit at the IWSC 2012.

Prepared By: Lev Neretin

Bangkok | 24-26 September 2012

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The Second Session of the Plenary of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES-2)

L-R: Sandra Díaz, MEP & STAP member, and Anne Larigauderie, incoming IPBES  Executive Secretary L-R: Sandra Díaz, MEP & STAP member, and Anne Larigauderie, incoming IPBES Executive Secretary

[T]he second session of the Plenary of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES-2) met from 9-14 December 2013 in Antalya, Turkey. Over 400 participants attended the meeting, representing IPBES member and non-member governments, UN agencies and convention secretariats, intergovernmental organizations, nongovernmental organizations, and various stakeholder groups.

Delegates adopted a set of decisions, known as “the Antalya Consensus,” which include: the work programme for 2014- 2018, including fast track, thematic, regional and subregional assessments and activities for building capacities; a conceptual framework that considers different knowledge systems; and rules and procedures for the Platform on, inter alia, the nomination of future Multidisciplinary Expert Panel (MEP) members and procedures for the preparation of the Platform’s deliverables. In addition, delegates agreed to a decision on a collaborative partnership arrangement with four UN agencies. Although some issues remain unresolved, including some of the rules and procedures and issues on communications and stakeholder engagement, many praised the Antalya Consensus as a major step towards operationalizing the Platform. Along these lines, during Friday’s plenary session, it was announced that Anne Larigauderie has been appointed as the first IPBES Executive Secretary.

Relevant Documents Are Available Below

Summary Report

Report Compilation

To find a full list of working documents and information documents of IPBES-2, please click here.

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Think Beyond Plastic: Addressing Drivers of Marine Plastics Pollution by Harnessing Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Market Power

DRussoESm (2)On 27 April, 2015, Daniela Russo, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Think Beyond Plastic, gave an overview of the most recent developments in the rapidly expanding field of material, manufacturing and design innovation across a range of sectors with an emphasis on the substantial contribution of alternatives to help address marine plastics from a range of pollution sources: food packaging and services, medical equipment, personal care products, construction, transportation and agriculture. Many of these disruptive innovations have great potential to transform markets by reducing the flow of plastic waste into the ocean, while enabling new businesses for the green and blue economy models, creating jobs and investment opportunities.  The presentation took place at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) office in Washington D.C., and was followed by a stimulating discussion that included US government officials, and representatives from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and several non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

Plastics production and consumption continues to increase at an exponential rate driven by the growth in consumption rates observed in the rapidly urbanizing countries of Asia and Central Europe. Global plastic production rose to 299 million tonnes in 2013, representing a 3.9% increase over 2012 levels. Around 4 per cent of world oil and gas production is used as feedstock for plastics and an additional 3-4% is used for energy during manufacturing. A major portion of plastics produced each year is used to make disposable packaging or other short-lived products that are discarded soon after use. Existing waste management strategies such as energy recovery and recycling are not adequately coping with increasing levels of plastic production. As a result of this unabated expansion of plastics, marine and freshwater habitats from the equatorial to the polar regions, are contaminated by plastic debris.

Daniella Russo underlined the significant financial and reputational risks of unchecked plastics consumption imposed on many businesses in the future, with the increased sensitization of the public about  the pervasive nature of plastic products, the toxic elements often added as plasticizers to confer appropriate properties to make them fit for purpose, their challenging end-of-life disposal, and the dependence of traditional plastics industries on oil and gas derivatives, Acknowledging the challenge of finding alternatives that offer comparable price, convenience and performance, she emphasized that innovations in materials, manufacturing, design and recycling offer tremendous business opportunities that Think Beyond Plastic is capitalizing on.

The social venture’s approach is to cut across various steps in the production supply chain, from substituting plastic with other materials manufactured from ubiquitous source inputs (such as bagasse and nanocrystalline cellulose), to innovating the design, manufacturing (converting methane to PHB etc.) and recycling of products that require the services traditionally provided by plastic. One of the key aspects of this approach lies in the Innovation Design Criteria matrix, whereby an innovation can only be considered as an alternative to plastic if it achieves both plastic price and performance, and it must be both scalable and sustainably sourced.

Furthermore, Russo explained the instrumental role Think Beyond Plastic plays in creating the right ecosystem for innovation to thrive by removing the main barriers to entrepreneurship, including access to expensive materials and innovation labs. Access to materials and equipment has to be supplemented by an enabling policy, regulatory and financial environment  to support entrepreneurs (e.g., setting of hazardous substance level benchmarks by government, low interest loans by private and development banks, government revolving fund schemes to support innovation, various financial credits etc.) to unlock the potential for lasting solutions to the plastic issue.

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Think Beyond Plastics is a social profit venture that aims to eradicate plastics marine pollution by harnessing the forces of innovation and entrepreneurship in materials, manufacturing, design and recycling. More information about the venture is available here.

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UNCCD Message

[O]n the occasion of the opening of the March 21-22, 2013 STAP Meeting, Washington DC,  the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, Mr. Luc Gnacadja, gave a message by video where, inter alia, he welcomed the GEF 2020 vision and indicated that there is a need to look at Land and its services with greater value, and to recognize the huge global environment benefits to be gained by restoring the ecosystem services of lands. In and amongst several important messages to the meeting, he thanked the STAP for making a strong case for land protections in their crosscutting paper, which in turn has been presented as a background paper to the GEF replenishment process in support of the GEF 2020 vision and the overall GEF-6 strategic approach.

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Mainstreaming Biodiversity in Production Landscapes

[T]he international conservation community has reason to celebrate the setting aside of over 12 percent of the Earth’s land surface for long-term protection. From minute reserves on oceanic islands to extensive mega reserves in tropical savannas and boreal forests, the protected area systems of the world have become the cornerstone of biodiversity conservation. During the past decade, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) has contributed over $1.2 billion, and leveraged $3.1 billion in cofinancing, to supporting this agenda.

What we at the GEF have learned, however, is that protected areas alone cannot ensure that our goal of achieving global biodiversity benefits for the planet and its six billion people will be met. Unless we address the root causes of biodiversity loss and incorporate biodiversity conservation into all development actions—and simultaneously incorporate development goals into our conservation programs— we will not reduce, much less reverse, the current rates of biodiversity loss.

This realization has convinced the GEF Council to approve new strategies within the GEF biodiversity work program. Strategic Priority 2 seeks to “mainstream biodiversity in production landscapes and sectors.” In attempting to position mainstreaming approaches into our work program, however, we found that the concept and its application were poorly understood by many stakeholders. It was, therefore, considered appropriate to refer this topic to the GEF’s Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel (STAP), which was established in 1992 to provide the GEF Council with strategic advice where appropriate.

STAP’s response is presented in this volume, based on a workshop held in Cape Town, South Africa, in September 2004. The workshop brought together experts from around the globe to review the mainstreaming concept, and to develop principles and conditions for its effective application. The workshop also identified areas for GEF interventions to promote the mainstreaming of biodiversity and to propose tools to assess the effectiveness of such interventions.

November 2005

DOWNLOAD Paper

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International Waters Indicator Review Workshop

[T]his Workshop was co-organized by the GEF Secretariat and the Science Panel and held at UNESCO. In addition to the Final Report of the Workshop, presentations made and related papers, you will find links to background documents about the GEF's Resource Allocation Framework (RAF), Terms of Reference for the three Approach Papers and the Agenda and guidance paper for the Workshop.

Paris | 4 December 2008

DOWNLOAD Final Report

DOWNLOAD Agenda

DOWNLOAD Background Briefing

DOWNLOAD TOR for Papers

DOWNLOAD Ground Water Paper

DOWNLOAD Surface Water Paper

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Bridging Science to Policy Gap

Nairobi-20130730-00348-2 Dr. Rosina speaking in Nairobi

Dr. Rosina Bierbaum, STAP Chair, speaks at UNEP/UN Complex in Nairobi, Kenya on "Bridging Science to Policy Gap" on 29th July 2013.

Dr. Bierbaum’s presentation talked about the role of assessments in the science/policy area, and lessons learned from working 20 years in the United States Government. She also elaborated on the ongoing National Climate Assessment in the United States and its implications for adaptation to climate change. The moderated discussion focused on adaptation to climate change as a universal agenda, and the opportunities and challenges for bridging the science to policy gap, and its implications for the development of the GEF-6 programming direction.

The presentation can be downloaded here.

 

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STAP Evidence Contributes to Decision on Marine and Coastal Biodiversity

cop-logo_1The evidence presented by STAP contributes to the CBD COP-11 decision on marine and coastal biodiversity

[T]wo reports prepared by STAP in collaboration with the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) were presented to the 11th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the CBD held in Hyderabad, India on 8-19 October 2012. These reports - Marine Spatial Planning in the Context of the Convention on Biological Diversity: A study carried out in response to CBD COP 10 decision X/29 andImpacts of Marine Debris on Biodiversity: Current Status and Potential Solutions,played an important role in informing CBD COP Decision XI/18 addressing impacts of marine debris on marine and coastal biodiversity (Section I, para 25-27) and marine spatial planning (Section III), respectively.

COP-11 decision on marine spatial planning requests CBD Parties and other partners to support further efforts on advancing marine spatial planning through development of guidance and information sharing as well as capacity building. CBD COP-11 recognizes firmly marine spatial planning as a useful tool in enhancing marine and coastal area management, including identification of ecologically or biologically significant marine areas, marine protected areas and other marine and coastal biodiversity spatial conservation measures.

The COP-11 decision on marine debris is the first time CBD acknowledges the global importance of the impacts of marine debris on marine and coastal biodiversity at the highest level. After the Convention on Migratory Species and itsCOP decision on marine debris, CBD calls on CBD parties and other partners to further their work to better understand these impacts, prepare practical guidance on preventing and mitigating impacts of marine debris on ecosystems, and enhance regional capacity building efforts to prevent and reduce sources of marine debris.

Prepared By: Lev Neretin

Hyderabad | 8-19 October 2012

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The GEF CEO Forum on Innovation Partnership

Rotated ICTpic

[T]he GEF CEO Forum was held on December 18th, 2013 at the Institute for Electronic Government Briefing Center in Washington, DC. The objective of the Forum was to solicit expert perspectives on enhancing the role of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) in facilitating the use of Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) to address global environmental challenges. This exploration is particularly critical as the GEF heads into its Sixth Replenishment (GEF-6).

The following key questions were discussed:

  1. What ICT options can be utilized to characterize drivers of environmental degradation and to devise robust approaches to monitor and address them?
  2. Who can build effective partnerships with the GEF to advance the use of ICT and how can such partnerships be developed?
  3. How can ICT help measuring short term results and long term impacts? What ICT tools can guide priority setting processes?

A select group of experts from various sectors of society were gathered to help answer these questions. In addition to members of the STAP and GEF Secretariat, participants included, inter alia, private sector representatives such as IBM, AECOM, Arup, Hitachi, CISCO and Amazon; public sector and academic representatives such as the White House- Office of Science and Technology/Policy, USEPA, Stanford University, The World Bank, UNDP, and UNIDO; as well as civil society representatives such as World Resources Institute (WRI), Conservation International and The Nature Conservancy (TNC). Participants were given the opportunity to form breakout discussion groups on the topics of Smarter Cities, Food and Agriculture, Forests and Land Use, and Data for Institutional Decision-making. Each working group came back to the Plenary with preliminary ideas for the incorporation of ICT into GEF-6 work within the assigned topic areas.

A summary report of the Forum will be published shortly and made available on this website. In the meantime, background information about the Forum can be found here, and the agenda can be found here.

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M&E Adaptation Workshop

adaptationThe Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel of the Global Environment Facility (STAP/GEF) and the Programme of Research on Climate Change Vulnerability, Impacts and Adaptation (PROVIA) of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) are undertaking a joint activity that will inform the scientific basis for measuring, monitoring and evaluating climate change adaptation. Most of the existing frameworks have been developed from the perspective of project level M&E. However, with increased attention on mainstreaming adaptation into medium to long-term development activities, as reflected in the growing importance of the National Adaptation Plan (NAP) related activities, focus is gradually shifting to programmatic, institutional and systemic interventions that emphasize the creation of policy frameworks and enabling environments. A set of papers have been commissioned on this topic and a workshop was held in Mumbai, India, January 22-24, 2015 to spur fresh thinking with regard to the larger issue of developing measuring, monitoring & evaluating systems at programmatic and national levels.

The workshop summary is available here.

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