News and Updates

Welcoming Dr. Rosina Bierbaum

Photo courtesy of IISD Reporting Service/ENB Photo by Franz Dejon Photo courtesy of IISD Reporting Service/ENB
Photo by Franz Dejon

The governing Council of the Global Environment Facility welcomed Dr. Rosina Bierbaum on the 19th of June, 2013.

Dr. Bierbaum is a Professor of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy at the University of Michigan. She served as Dean of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment from 2001 to 2011. In April 2009 President Obama named Dr. Bierbaum to the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) and she has held many leadership posts throughout her career advising the U.S. Congress and the Executive Branch on environmental science and policy.

In 2011, Dr. Bierbaum was named as one of the World Bank’s first Fellows, in the area of climate change adaptation. She was also chosen to co-lead the World Bank’s ground-breaking World Development Report 2010: Development and Climate Change.

To read more, please click here.

Washington DC | 19 June 2013

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Planet under Pressure (PUP)

pup[T]he global gene pool, the atmosphere, the climate system and the oceans beyond national jurisdiction are major examples of global commons. Transboundary ecosystems and water catchments are examples at the regional level. Their sustainable management represents one of the toughest challenges, both for science and for governance. Through two closely interlinked sessions, we will showcase the most recent scientific thinking on global environmental benefits, in terms of their functioning, current status and trends, and then analyse how this science can best inform action to enhance the sustainability of the global commons, particularly those actions mobilized or catalyzed by the Global Environmental Facility. On the basis of the best of cutting edge science, and of failure and success cases, this session will focus on how to strengthen these pathways to face on-going and future complex socio-ecological challenges. The panel discussion will focus on two themes, outlined further below.

The science of global environmental benefits

This will focus on the latest scientific thinking on the global commons, including biodiversity, the oceans, and climate. What are the knowledge gaps, synergies, conflicts, trade-offs in relation to the global commons? What are the drivers behind them? What is the public perception of them? How action at the national jurisdiction can address the major drivers/root causes and solutions of degradation in global commons? What sort of protective measures and institutions could be envisioned that are likely to work, on the basis of previous experiences?

pup2Turning knowledge into action to sustainably manage global environmental benefits

This will focus on how the knowledge base outlined above can best inform action, in particularly that of GEF. The GEF is the world's leading source of funding in support of the global environment. Its mission includes ensuring that support channeled by it are targeted towards achieving global environment benefits, including the preservation of the climate system, the atmosphere, the waters beyond national jurisdiction and the global biodiversity. On the one hand, the best available scientific and technical knowledge and evidence-based research is essential to fully realize this mission. On the other, the results of GEF-supported projects can make an important contribution to science through the generation of data, lessons, and learning. Both pathways are essential, but require different mechanisms, which will be explored in this session.

London | March 2012

Published Date:

First meeting of the ad hoc Advisory Group of Technical Experts for Impact Indicator Refinement - AGTE

[T]he meeting had the following specific objectives:

  • AGTE members are well informed about the progress made in refining the set of impact indicators to date;
  • AGTE members understand the four fundamental issues to be addressed as per decision of the COP;
  • Scope of work and elements to be further elaborated and analyzed under each of the four fundamental issues are identified and agreed upon within the AGTE;
  • Working modalities, allocation of tasks among the AGTE members, schedule and milestone planning are agreed upon by the AGTE members.

For full details that include documentation and presentations, please vist UNCCD's page.

Bonn | 23-24 July 2012

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Recruitment: Biodiversity & Chemical Panel Members

Find this posting in Spanish and French.

Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel (STAP)
Of the Global Environment Facility (GEF)

Recruitment of 2 STAP Panel Members

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) is the world’s largest funding mechanism addressing global environmental challenges in biodiversity conservation, climate change, international waters, safe management of chemicals, and land degradation. The Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel (STAP) of the Global Environment Facility is currently accepting applications for three positions from highly qualified candidates with outstanding academic and technical credentials, and experience in making science relevant for policy and decision-makers, in the areas of Biodiversity and Chemicals and Waste. To review the detailed Terms of Reference for each position, please click on the appropriate link.

STAP is an independent group of seven experts working together to provide objective scientific advice on policies and strategies of the GEF. The Panel implements a results oriented program of work – developed in collaboration with GEF Partners – designed to address important challenges within the GEF Program, and provide operational advice on individual GEF projects.

The successful candidate must have:
Professionalism:
1. An advanced degree, preferably a PhD in a field directly related to the position;
2. Minimum 15 years experience in scientific research with demonstrated success in applying research results to real-world issues;
3. Ability to work cross-sectorally in areas of importance related to their field of expertise;
4. Capable of bridging scientific, technological, and policy issues;
5. Demonstrated capacity to formulate scientific advice that integrates findings from relevant bio-physical sciences as well as socio-economic disciplines (e.g. economics, geography, anthropology, etc.) on policy and project/program issues.
6. Experience working in developing countries and in the context of multi-lateral environmental assistance;
7. Demonstrated ability to manage scientific research undertakings involving multiple stakeholders;
8. Excellent communication skills, orally or written.
9. Understanding of the assigned GEF focal area, its strategic objectives, and linkages with other GEF focal areas is an asset.

Leadership:
1. Extensive access to scientific networks, and demonstrated ability to engage these networks;
2. Demonstrated expertise and leadership in one of the thematic areas noted above, supported by (but not restricted to) the candidate’s peer-reviewed publication record;
3. Knowledge of the scientific processes required for the implementation of relevant conventions in developing countries for which the GEF supports.

A STAP Panel Member is expected to provide 60 to 90 days per year to the work of STAP. Remuneration is based on UN scales for senior consultants. A full description of responsibilities, and application forms, are available below.  Applications along with a cover letter should be sent to Recruitment.STAPGEF@UNEP.org, quoting the relevant vacancy reference number in the subject line of your email. All applications should be sent on or before the deadline of January 31, 2014.

UNEP is an equal opportunity employer. Preference will be given to equally qualified women candidates.

 

Application Form
Position Description - Biodiversity
Position Description - Chemical
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Non-Combustion Technologies for the Destruction POPs Stockpiles

[T]he GEF is seeking to destroy obsolete stockpiles of POPs. Contaminated soils around stocks are also a challenge in many countries. Stockpiles are especially severe in Africa, in Central and Eastern Europe, and in the Newly Independent States, with 47,000 obsolete pesticide stockpiles identified in Africa alone.
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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).

IMG_0981-tn L-R: Deborah O'Connell, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO); Annette Cowie, University of New England, Australia; UNCCD Executive Secretary Monique Barbut; and Tomasz Chruszczow, Chair, Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA), UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Photo courtesy of UNCCD Secretariat.

 

The presentations, the main report and accompanying case studies on the Resilience Adaptation Transformation Assessment Framework can be accessed below.

Presentation by Deborah O’Connell – Resilience Adaptation Transformation Assessment

The Resilience, Adaptation Transformation Assessment Framework: from theory to application by Deborah O’Connell, Brian Walker, Nick Abel, and Nicky Grigg

Resilience assessment desktop case studies in Thailand and Niger by Nicky Grigg, Nick Abel, Deborah O’Connell and Brian Walker

Presentation by Sandy Andelman - Vital Signs

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.

  1. Compton Tucker, Land degradation mapping
  2. Sandy Andelman (CI), Vital Signs
  3. Michel Cherlet (JRC), Remote sensing products and global datasets
  4. 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.

IMG_0749m09-tn Compton "Jim" Tucker (center), National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Goddard Space Flight Center, presenting at the side event on "The use of satellite data to measure and monitor land degradation over time at multiple scales," organized by the Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel of the Global Environment Facility. Thomas Hammond, STAP Secretary on L and Annette Cowie, STAP Panel Member on R. Photo courtesy of UNCCD Secretariat.

 

For further information about the side events please contact Guadalupe Durón (guadalupe.duron@unep.org)

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Green Chemistry and Bio-based Chemicals Workshop

greenchemistry[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
BizNGO
| 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

5. David Rodgers Senior Energy Specialist, GEF | Accessing GEF Funds | GEF Replenishment Process

6. Heinz Leuenberger Director of the Environmental Management Branch, UNIDO | Green Industries


Prepared By: Margarita Dyubanova

Washington DC | 19 March 2013

 

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Expert Workshop: Role of Regional Organizations in the International Waters Focal Area

STAP/GEF Technical Workshop
Hosted by the Organization of American States
Washington, DC

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

IW workshop Participant Photo

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

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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

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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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