News and Updates

Workshop: Soils, Food Security and Global Environment Benefits

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[T]he workshop is a special session of STAP which will highlight the vital linkages between Sustainable Land Management (SLM) and management of land degradation, biodiversity conservation, mitigation of climate change, protection of water bodies and, more widely, human livelihoods and well-being. The objective is to underscore the unique role of SLM within the program of the Global Environment Facility.

The meeting will take place Thursday, 10 October 2013 at The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), which is located at 2033 K Street, NW, Suite 400, from 9 am until 1 pm.

We are pleased to have the following guest speakers join us at the session:

  1. Dr. Diana Wall, Colorado State University and the 2013 Tyler Prize Laureate  | Presentation: Soils, Biodiversity, and Global Environmental Benefits
  2. Dr. Cheryl Palm, Earth Institute at Columbia University | Presentation: Soils and Food Security
  3. Dr. Henry Janzen, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada | Presentation: Soil Organic Carbon Management

Please find the session program for further information about the discussions here. The session will be co-chaired by Dr. Annette Cowie (STAP member for sustainable land management) and Rosina Bierbaum (STAP Chair).

To see the publication of Managing Soil Organic Carbon for Global Benefits, please click here.

To find more information on this event, click here.

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STAP Meeting 2014

STAP Meeting (Open Session), October 27, 2014

The STAP will once more run its Biannual meeting concurrently with the GEF Council meetings. For the Fall 2014 session, the STAP Open Meeting will be held on October 27, 2014 at the World Bank MC Building in Washington DC. The main meeting objectives are as follows:-

  • Finalize the major program activities of STAP in FY15 and GEF-6;
  • Review STAP’s contribution to the IAPs, GEF Knowledge Management;
  • Review of STAP Screening Process in GEF-6.

The meeting Agenda and STAP Provisional Work Programme for GEF-6 can be accessed at the links below.

STAP Contribution to the 47th Meeting of the GEF Council (October 28-30, 2014)

The GEF Council is a high level meeting of representatives from the GEF's 32 constituencies, who act as the GEF's governing board of directors. They are responsible for developing, adopting, and evaluating policies and programs for GEF-financed activities. Council meetings are open to Council Members, Council Alternate Members, and the GEF CEO or his/her representative. The STAP is one of the invitees to this biannual meeting of the GEF partnership, and at each Council Meeting the STAP Chair presents a written and visual report on the activities of the STAP. In addition, the STAP Work Programme, the implementation of the work programme, and any other strategic or policy-related views of the STAP requested by the Council can be presented at the Council Meetings.

The STAP Chair's Report and the STAP Provisional Work Programme for GEF-6 will be the main documents presented to the Council.

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Previous STAP Meeting Dates and Venue Information

Location Date
STAP I Panel Meeting Amsterdam, Netherlands January 21-23, 1998
STAP I Panel Meeting Washington DC, USA June 16-19, 1998
STAP II Panel Meeting Nairobi, Kenya February 10-12, 1999
STAP II Panel Meeting Paris, France June 4, 1999
STAP II Panel Meeting Washington DC, USA September 13-15, 1999
STAP II Panel Meeting Bridgetown, Barbados February 23-25, 2000
STAP II Panel Meeting Bangalore, India June 21-23, 2000
STAP II Panel Meeting Washington DC, USA September 18-22, 2000
STAP II Panel Meeting Washington DC, USA March 13-15, 2001
STAP II Panel Meeting Washington DC, USA October 23-25, 2001
STAP II Panel Meeting Nairobi, Kenya March 27-29, 2002
STAP III Panel Meeting Washington DC, USA September 26-28, 2002
STAP III Panel Meeting Washington DC, USA March 5-7, 2003
STAP III Panel Meeting Washington DC, USA October 6-8, 2003
STAP III Panel Meeting Washington DC, USA March 1-4, 2004
STAP III Panel Meeting Washington DC, USA October 6-8, 2004
STAP III Panel Meeting Washington DC, USA March 7-9, 2005
STAP III Panel Meeting Washington DC, USA April 4-6, 2006
STAP IV Panel Meeting Washington DC, USA October 16-19, 2006
STAP IV Panel Meeting Washington DC, USA February 26-28, 2007
STAP IV Panel Meeting Nairobi, Kenya April 9-12, 2008
STAP IV Panel Meeting Washington DC, USA September 15-17, 2008
STAP IV Panel Meeting Rome, Italy April 28-30, 2009
STAP IV Panel Meeting Washington DC, USA October 13, 2009
STAP IV Panel Meeting Rome, Italy March 8-10, 2010
STAP V Panel Meeting Washington DC, USA October 14-15, 2010
STAP V Panel Meeting Vienna, Austria March 17-18, 2011
STAP V Panel Meeting Washington DC, USA October 13 - 14, 2011
STAP V Panel Meeting London, England March 29 - 30, 2012
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The GEF Council approves initiative to conduct a "GEF 2020" strategic exercise

[T]he Council of the Global Environment Facility approves the initiative of the CEO and Council Chair Dr. Naoko Ishii’s to conduct a “GEF 2020” strategic exercise. The GEF 2020 strategic exercise, Dr. Ishii said, “will seek to answer a range of questions critical to the GEF’s future. It will explore broader and bolder changes in the way we manage the global environment. It will seek to identify what unique role this institution can play in catalyzing transformational change.”

The Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel strongly supports GEF’s future focus on transformational change in delivering global environmental benefits, and will work closely with the GEF CEO, Secretariat, and GEF Partnership in delivering on this challenge. As an important step, at the 43rd GEF Council STAP released an assessment of climate change science that identifies the utmost urgency of action on climate change mitigation and adaptation and identifies the necessary ingredients for the GEF’s transformative action towards a global low-carbon economy.

Washington DC, November 19, 2012

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STAP’s Participation at the UNCCD COP 11

STAP event 2[T]he Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel of the Global Environment Facility (STAP/GEF) led two side events at the 11th Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) held during the first week of the COP – 16th to 20th September 2013 in Windhoek, Namibia. The side events were organized jointly with the GEF.

The side events titled, “Global Environment Facility – Carbon Sequestration – A Valuable Global Benefit of Sustainable Land Management”; and, “The Global Environment Facility’s Carbon Benefits Project – new tools to measure carbon & the GEF’s experience applying the tools”, were held on 16th and 18th September 2013.

To find more information on this event, click here.

The objectives of the side events were as follows:

  1. Demonstrate the importance of the current work of the GEF Land Degradation Focal Area, with special reference to sustainable land management and the potential benefits derived from above- and below-ground sequestration of carbon.
  2. Illustrate our current scientific understanding of the relationship between soil organic carbon management and its importance to sustainable land management.
  3. Demonstrate a set of the carbon tools developed by UNEP-GEF’s Carbon Benefits Project and show how Parties could use the tools to monitor and report on Strategic Objective 3 (to generate global benefits through effective implementation of the UNCCD).
  4.  Contribute towards policies that support UNCCD’s efforts to generate global benefits through sustainable land management.

Gerard Govers, University of Leuven, Belgium, presented the scientific evidence as to how, why, and under what circumstances global benefits could be achieved through sustainable land management. This evidence is elaborated further in the STAP publication “Managing soil organic carbon for global benefits”, published by STAP in August 2013.  At the session, participants demonstrated an interest in understanding further the implications of soil organic carbon management on agricultural productivity and livelihoods. This included the vital effects of soil carbon management on plant available water – an important element for drylands, and areas affected by climate change risks, such as drought.

Eleanor Milne, Colorado State University, featured the simple assessment tool and the detailed assessment tool developed by the UNEP/GEF Carbon Benefits Project (CBP). The second half of the session profiled the GEF Agencies (UNEP, UNDP and IFAD) experiences with the carbon tools in land management projects, and sustainable forest management projects. The outcomes of the session demonstrated the GEF Agencies are testing the tools in land management and sustainable forest management projects, and showing their utility in practical project situations. Similarly, challenges in using the tools also were demonstrated – especially when applied to peatlands, since the values for the parameters in the tools are not well enough understood.   Additionally, the discussions featured how the tools are being used to validate carbon sequestered in projects on payment for ecosystem services. This demonstrated a prospect for using the tools beyond the expected reporting on carbon stock changes from land management projects.

Further information about the side events can be found at this link. The presentations also can be downloaded through here.

At the COP 11, STAP also observed the UNCCD’s Committee on Science and Technology and its discussions. Of interest to STAP for the development of its advice to the GEF, were several agenda items, notably:  “Advice on how best to measure progress on strategic objectives 1, 2 and 3 of The Strategy”. The agenda item featured advice by UNCCD’s Advisory Group of Technical Experts (AGTE) – an ad hoc group consisting of the scientific community and its efforts to refine the impact indicators of the 10-year Strategy. STAP is a member of the AGTE, and advised UNCCD on indicators prior to the establishment of this advisory group.

The AGTE proposal was adopted, with amendments.  STAP’s role in the AGTE was instrumental – above all in identifying an indicator for strategic objective 3: “Total terrestrial system carbon”. Equally, STAP’s advice encouraged the use of the CBP methodology so that countries can estimate carbon stock changes and report on their progress in addressing strategic objective 3: “To generate global benefits through effective implementation of the UNCCD”. STAP’s contributions in the AGTE were made possible through its advisory partnership with the GEF on the land degradation focal area – combined with its thorough scientific understanding of the UNEP/GEF Carbon Benefits Project. Ultimately, this is an example of STAP’s commitment to the GEF as it seeks to strengthen the scientific and technical coherence with the UNCCD to deliver global benefits.

The AGTE’s technical report and its recommendations to the CST and the COP can be accessed below, along with the final decision from these two UNCCD bodies.

Refinement of the Set of Impact Indicators on Strategic Objectives 1, 2 and 3 - Recommendations of the ad hoc Advisory Group of Technical Experts

Advice on How Best to Measure Progress on Strategic Objectives 1, 2 and 3 of The Strategy - Draft Decision Submitted by the Chairperson of the Committee on Science and Technology

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Agro-Ecosytem Resilience Workshop

Identifying Common Indicators: Agro-ecosystem resilience Across the Rio Conventions

group photo_Sydney workshop_croppedThe STAP Agro-Ecosystem Resilience workshop kicked off on November 19, 2014 in Sydney Australia with opening remarks from Monique Barbut – the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). The Executive Secretary urged participants to work collaboratively during the course of the workshop to develop measures of land-based adaptation that can be shared with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

Nearly 50 participants representing a range of expertise covering multiple aspects of both science and policy are discussing a conceptual framework for assessing and identifying indicators of agro-ecosystem resilience that could be aligned with monitoring and reporting needs of the UNCCD, and that could further integrate with the CBD’s efforts on ecosystem resilience and the UNFCCC’s work on climate change adaptation. The discussion will also inform how the GEF can ensure that future projects include elements of the proposed framework to incorporate resilience, and will also provide input into how the GEF can continue to help countries meet their obligations under the three Rio Conventions through harmonized indicators.

The STAP is partnering with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), the Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies (LUCSUS), the GEF, and the Convention Secretariats. The STAP has commissioned two papers that have been the basis of discussion for the workshop. One paper synthesizes the scientific understanding of resilience in interacting social- ecological systems, with a particular focus on agro-ecosystems, and proposes an approach for defining indicators to assess social-ecological resilience of farming systems. The second paper reviews remote sensing based vegetation indices, such as Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), to begin a discussion on the suitability of various vegetation indices for national-level assessment of land degradation.

Information from the workshop discussions will be incorporated into the final papers, which will be available upon request when completed.

Further information about the workshop is available in the background note and the logistics note that are available through the link below, or by contacting Guadalupe Duron (guadalupe.duron@unep.org)

Documents

Background Note ||

Published Date:

Climate Resilience

[C]limate Resilience workshop was held in November 2010.

November 2010

DOWNLOAD Report

DOWNLOAD Decision

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In Memory of Angela Cropper

Angela Cropper

[T]he former Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme and the first Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, Angela Cropper, passed away on November 12, 2012, at the age of 66, after a long struggle with cancer. Among her many contributions and achievements in support of environmental conservation and sustainable development over her career, Angela was a member of the GEF’s Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel as Vice Chair for a time between 2005 and 2007.

Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director and UN Undersecretary General, indicated how much Angela appreciated her time on STAP, as it spoke directly to her desire for substance.

The former Chair of STAP, Yolanda Kakabadse – under whom Angela served – expressed that “as a STAP member her clarity of thought and long term vision made her an invaluable colleague – always concerned about the need to prioritise themes and activities that would benefit the most vulnerable and poor in all regions and societies.”

The current STAP Panel and Chair recognized Angela’s invaluable contributions to the conservation of biodiversity throughout her life; Tom Lovejoy – current Chair of STAP – expressed that “she will be sorely missed” by our community.

Special Advisor to the STAP Chair Dr. Michael Stocking, remarking on Angela’s dedication in all aspects of her life, recalled a STAP workshop hosted by Angela in her native Trinidad on the challenges faced by small island developing states in groundwater management – she was “always gracious” in her work.

Personal remembrances may be posted on the following website.

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STAP Report to 45th Meeting of the GEF Council

[T]he chair of STAP -- Dr. Rosina Bierbaum gave her first presentation to the GEF Council at the 45th Meeting on Wednesday, November 6.

The report has the following highlights:

  • STAP Work Programme Activities and Products
  • Comments on the GEF 2020 Strategy
  • Science in the GEF
© Bowen Cao © Bowen Cao

 

To read the presentation, click here.

To read the detailed content, click here.

To find more information on this event, click here.

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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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