News and Updates
Non-Combustion Technologies for the Destruction POPs Stockpiles
STAP at the UNCCD 3rd Scientific Conference 9-12 March in Cancún, México
Monique Barbut, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), welcomed participants to a STAP side event on the “Resilience Adaptation Transformation Assessment Framework” at the UNCCD’s 3rd Scientific Conference in Cancún, México. At the side event, STAP and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia, presented an approach for analyzing the current state, and future desired states, of a socio-ecological system (e.g. agro-ecosystems), and identifying options to enhance resilience, adapt, or transform. The approach could complement the UNCCD progress indicators and be shared with the UNFCCC and the CBD as a measure of land-based adaptation and ecosystem resilience, respectively, and thus strengthen the linkages between the Conventions, and enhance the recognition of the central role of the land in supporting sustainable development.
Annette Cowie (STAP) moderated a panel that included Deborah O’Connell (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, CSIRO), Fareeha Iqbal (Global Environment Facility, GEF), Sandy Andelman (Conservation International, CI)), Tomasz Chruszczow (Chair of the Scientific and Technological Advice, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, SBSTA/UNFCCC), and Jeffrey Herrick (United States Department of Agriculture, USDA).
The presentations, the main report and accompanying case studies on the Resilience Adaptation Transformation Assessment Framework can be accessed below.
Annette Cowie (STAP) also organized a second side event on the “Use of satellite data to measure and monitor land degradation at multiple scales”. Current satellite data products and associated methods were presented that have been used, and, or, that are being proposed, to assess land degradation and desertification within the context of the needs of the UNCCD and the GEF. The session also sought to better understand the needs of countries and project developers that use satellite-based data products currently, or plan to in the future, to map changes in land cover and analyze the causes and consequences of land degradation at the national and sub-national level.
The panelists included Compton Tucker (National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA), Sandy Andelman (Conservation International, CI), Michel Cherlet (European Commission, Joint Research Centre, JRC), and Marc Paganini (European Space Agency, ESA). Their presentations can be downloaded through the links below. The side event also was informed by a STAP review on the use of normalized difference vegetation index for global assessment of land degradation status and trend. The report was commissioned in 2014, and a short version of the paper will be published in SpringerBrief by 2016.
- Compton Tucker, Land degradation mapping
- Sandy Andelman (CI), Vital Signs
- Michel Cherlet (JRC), Remote sensing products and global datasets
- Marc Paganini (ESA), Data and products developed by ESA to measure and monitor land degradation and potential applications at regional and national levels
A STAP commissioned study on a "Review of the use of normalized difference vegetation index for global assessment of land degradation, status and trend" by Genesis T. Yengoh, David Dent, Lennart Olsson, Anna E. Tengberg, Compton J. Tucker, may be found at this link.
For further information about the side events please contact Guadalupe Durón (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Green Chemistry and Bio-based Chemicals Workshop
[O]n March 19 2013, the GEF and the STAP co-organized a workshop to explore the technologies, business models, and the potential for future GEF projects and programs in the area of green chemistry and bio-based chemicals. “Green chemistry, also known as sustainable chemistry, is the design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the use or generation of hazardous substances. Green chemistry applies across the life cycle of a chemical product, including its design, manufacture, and use.” (US EPA definition). Many of green chemistry developments utilize the principle of “cradle to cradle” and avoid waste generation “benign by design”. Green chemistry field is dynamic and accelerating area for innovation. Some of green chemistry developments, however, if commercialized and broadly adopted could have a significant potential in many industries reducing their environmental footprint. Among relevant categories of green chemistry applications are bio-based alternatives substituting fossil-based chemicals, environmentally sound approaches to water purification; biodegradable polymers including biodegradable plastics; environmentally friendly refrigerants; bio-based batteries; substitution of hazardous chemicals in consumer products including toys and electronics and many others.
More than 30 participants from the GEF family, the US government, academia, private sector, and NGOs attended the workshop. Participants discussed the benefits and challenges supporting green chemistry applications including in the GEF context. They largely agreed on several areas for potential future work in the GEF, including:
- Promote awareness of green chemistry among recipient countries and GEF agencies as a foundation for new projects. It was proposed to ask STAP to develop a paper for the GEF Council on “what, where and how” green chemistry applications could support GEF recipient countries in protection of global commons;
- Support projects that reduce risks of innovative green chemistry technologies and make them ready for scaling–up – to overcome “valley of death” between R&D and pilot demonstrations. Demonstrating “success” in early applications will help catalyze future investments;
- Identify, support and promote tools such as public procurement and certification/standards (e.g., GreenScreen for Safer Chemicals, Roadmap to Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals in apparel industry, Plastics Scorecard and others) that can be expanded to GEF recipient countries;
- Promote studies of countries and sectors that establish baselines and opportunities for green chemistry applications assessing maturity of potential “leapfrog” technologies, institutional readiness and other factors.
- Support existing institutions and partnerships such as UNEP/UNIDO Cleaner Production Centers Programme and Green Industry Platform as important vehicles for promoting and supporting green chemistry applications;
- Identify key cross-cutting multi-focal area green chemistry concepts that are candidates for GEF-6 and could be included in strategic documents.
Agenda for the workshop can be downloaded here along with the presentations below.
1. Paul Anastas Director, Center for Green Chemistry and Green Engineering
Teresa and H. John Heinz III Professor in the Practice of Chemistry for the Environment, School of Forestry &
Environmental Studies, Yale University | Green Chemistry: Environmental and health protection through innovation
2. Mark Rossi Research Fellow at the Lowell Center for Sustainable Production, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Co-Chair
| Environmental & Economic Benefits of Green Chemistry (from the perspective of “downstream users”)
3. Stephen Gatto Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Myriant | Commercializing Bio-Based Chemicals
4. David Anton Chief Technology Officer, Codexis | Codexis Corporate Presentation to GEF
6. Heinz Leuenberger Director of the Environmental Management Branch, UNIDO | Green Industries
Prepared By: Margarita Dyubanova
Washington DC | 19 March 2013
Expert Workshop: Role of Regional Organizations in the International Waters Focal Area
STAP/GEF Technical Workshop
Hosted by the Organization of American States
A two day expert workshop (June 11th – June 12th), co-organized by members of the STAP, OAS, UNEP and the GEF Secretariat, provided a platform to discuss the preliminary findings of the upcoming report – The Political Economy of Regionalism and International Waters. The report explores the increasing influence of regional political and economic organizations such as – the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), East African Community (EAC), Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Organization of American States (OAS), Central American Integration System (SICA), the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and others – in various projects and programs developed by the International Waters focal area of the GEF. These regional organizations together form regional governance frameworks and networks which are aimed at improving cooperation, trade and exchange within these emerging regional structures. Such systems of integration could benefit GEF interventions through stronger channels of formal and informal cooperation at regional level
The workshop took on a two pronged approach addressing the extent and manner in which regionalization processes influence GEF interventions and how GEF interventions can be better positioned in these processes for mutual benefit. The first day commenced with information sessions where members from various regional organizations across the world presented on different aspects of regional integration. The following day comprised of a detailed and comprehensive discussion in plenary – including representatives from regional organizations around the world, the co-authors of the report, and other experts from STAP and the GEF. The discussion was divided according to the following sub categories – The Political Economy Context, Regionalism and the Governance Systems. Overall, discussions from the workshop called for a more practical application of the theoretical analysis, addressed the difficulties in making overall regional decisions due to the varying political and economic structures within a region itself and explored the structuring and evaluation mechanisms of effective governance frameworks.
The Presentations from the Workshop are listed below
- Ivan Zavadsky – International Waters Focal Area Coordinator, GEF Secretariat | GEF IS Strategy for the 6th replenishment period
- Phera Ramoeli – Senior Program Officer at Southern African Development Community Secretariat, Botswana | Experience from SADC and the transboundary river basin commissions
- Hamukaya Hashali – Executive Secretary at the Benguela Current Commission, Namibia | Science to Governance in the BCLME: Two decades of institutional and capacity building for integrated transboundary LME management
- Cansius Kabungo Kanagire – Executive Secretary of the Lake Victoria Basin Commission, Rwanda | The role of LVBC in the EAC developmental and integration agenda
- Peter Kanyi Maina – Senior Economist/M&E/ NBI/ NELSAP, Rwanda | The role of NELSAP in regional integration
- Tuğba Evrim Madem – ORSAM, Water Research Programme, Turkey | Turkey and the implementation of the EU aquis in the context of transboundary river basins
- Martha Jarosewich – Holder –The World Bank, Central Asia Energy Water Development Program, USA) | Lessons from the Regionalization of Water Programs in the Americas
- Cletus Springer – Director, Department of Sustainable Development, OAS, USA | Lessons from the Regionalization of Water Programs in the Americas
- Robin Mahon – Director of the Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies, University of West Indies, Barbados | The importance of regional cooperation and governance arrangements for Small Island Developing States
Prepared By: Francisna Fernando
The 6th Biennial International Waters Conference
Dead Zones Need Immediate Attention
Lack of oxygen in coastal waters will create major social and economic problems if not addressed faster, a new report says
[T]he growing problem of dead zones in the world’s coastal waters requires a faster response from the Global Environment Facility, according to a report by a scientific and technical advisory panel.
Authors of the report, Hypoxia and Nutrient Reduction in the Coastal Zone: Advice for Prevention, Remediation and Research, examined data about oceans where oxygen was drastically reduced and where it was completely depleted, creating areas commonly known as dead zones.
The study found that one of the most efficient ways to reduce oxygen depletion was to stem the flow of nutrients from fertilizers, municipal sewage or livestock waste into coastal waters. The report recommended that the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and its partners “urgently increase their support to nutrient reduction projects, building on GEF’s experience and leadership.”
“If the problem is managed at either the local or regional level, the problems can be reversed,” said Robert Diaz, an author of the report who has studied global dead zones for about 20 years.
The report was released at the Sixth GEF Biennial International Waters Conference held in Dubrovnik.
The four-day conference was organized by GEF and the United Nations Development Programme in cooperation with the Croatian government. It convened about 300 participants involved in GEF’s International Waters (IW) portfolio of projects.
The new study was unveiled and the advisory document was launched as part of the conference. It was undertaken by the Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel (STAP), which is administered by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and advises GEF.
“This advice from STAP is well timed to inform the GEF council that this issue is a critical one to address for our planet,” said GEF Senior Advisor Alfred M. Duda.
Even before the report was commissioned and issued, GEF was “a world leader in supporting measures to reduce nutrient pollution that contributes to coastal dead zones,” Duda said.
GEF regional projects have brought together 45 countries in East Asia, the Mediterranean and the Danube-Black Sea to reduce coastal pollution, he said.
“GEF has responded with 23 national projects on agriculture, municipal sewage, and industrial nutrient reduction in its international waters area, with $144 million in grants and $1.94 billion in co-financing,” Duda said.
One of the main goals of the study was to underscore the importance of hypoxia zones, or water areas with a depleted oxygen levels, said Thomas Hammond, STAP secretary.
Zones without any oxygen at all are anoxic zones, popularly referred to as dead zones. The number of hypoxic zones has doubled in each of the last five decades, the report said. There are now more than 500 in the world.
Hypoxia occurs when waters are overloaded with too many nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorous and silicon. Often these arrive in the coastal waters from farm fertilizers, municipal waste systems and livestock waste.
The oxygen depletion creates many social and environmental difficulties. It reduces fisheries production, kills marine life, threatens human health and makes the coast a less pleasant place to visit, which harms the tourism industry.
Hypoxic areas also emit potent greenhouse gasses including nitrous oxide and methane, the study said.
“Left unremediated, coastal hypoxia leads to serious and mounting social, economic and ecological costs,” the report said.
The launch of the study included a presentation of work by others scientists working on the problem and suggesting solutions.
The STAP report studied coastal areas that are part of GEF transboundary projects. It made suggestions on how the independent financial organization should proceed. Recommendations to prevent and remediate hypoxia included:
- Urgently increase support to nutrient reduction projects.
- Establish principles to support tests of management responses to permanent and seasonal hypoxic zones.
- Develop a toolkit for evaluating hypoxia that can be used to evaluate new projects. It could be similar to the current Persistent Organic Pollutants Toolkit and should be available on GEF’s IW:Learn website.
- Tools to address hypoxia and nutrient reduction that have already developed by GEF’s Large Marine Ecosystem projects should be included in its International Waters Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis and Strategic Action Programs.
- All Large Marine Ecosystem (LME) projects should examine hypoxia in their areas and establish a monitoring, prevention and remediation program if one does not already exists.
- Hypoxia research proposals should be developed to learn more about the problem and to guide GEF responses. They should also address the associated problem of disruption of the global nitrogen cycle.
The best chance of stemming the problem should be focused at the source of the pollution, the study said.
Problems also occur when coastal water layers become stratified and do not mix preventing oxygenation of the layers. These issues are harder to fix, the study said.
The problem can be tackled, but there is no “silver bullet,” Hammond said.
“You have work with multiple jurisdictions, multiple actors, particularly the private sector,” he said. “GEF is extremely well positioned to lead the way on this because of its multilateral configuration and focus on local action to deliver global benefits.”
Prepared By: Lev Neretin | 13 December 2011
The Second Session of the Plenary of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES-2)
[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
To find a full list of working documents and information documents of IPBES-2, please click here.
STAP presents at the GEF International Waters Science Conference 2012 (IWSC 2012)
[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
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.
Think Beyond Plastic: Addressing Drivers of Marine Plastics Pollution by Harnessing Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Market Power
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.
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.
[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.