Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, the chair and CEO of the GEF convened a Technical Advisory Group (TAG) meeting in preparation for the next phase of the GEF (July 2022 to June 2026).
The TAG, from 8 to 11 February, brought together more than 400 global experts, and representatives from GEF agencies, multilateral environmental agreements, the GEF secretariat, and STAP. The meeting was held virtually because of the global pandemic; this made it possible to bring together experts from the west coast of the US to the eastern coast of Australia, and many points in between.
The TAG was facilitated by Rosina Bierbaum, the chair of STAP. In her opening remarks Dr. Bierbaum noted that, in its 30th year, the centrality of the GEF to positive global environmental change was underscored by the World Economic forum's COVID-19 risk outlook which said, “the risk of neglecting climate and biodiversity protection in the face of COVID-19 would not only be a setback on the sustainability agenda but create greater risk of future pandemics.” She also noted that the 2021 Davos conference had concluded that the top five most likely risks were: extreme weather events, climate action failure, human environmental disruption, infectious diseases, and biodiversity loss – all of which were in the purview of the GEF.
STAP Panel Members were fully engaged in the TAG throughout the four days, and discussed much of STAP’s recent work, including on nature-based solutions, behavioral change, the circular economy, and land degradation neutrality.
In closing, Dr Bierbaum said, “The biggest single issue that has suffused all four days of our deliberations this week was the COVID-19 pandemic. It is the most recent crystallizing crisis, but it is certainly not the last surprise that will occur in the current short decade that will include GEF-8 and GEF-9. We must be on cleaner, greener, bluer, more equitable paths in this decade or else we will reach tipping points in many dimensions – ecologically, economically, and socially.”
The TAG is the start of an 18-month process to replenish the GEF which culminate at the GEF quadrennial in May 2022. The first replenishment meeting will be held in April.