News and Updates

Workshop on Adaptation and Vulnerability

[S]cientifically and politically, adaptation to the impacts of climate change has emerged as one of the most urgent critically and contemporary societal issues. Adaptation is now recognised as an integral part of the response to the impact of climate change, because current agreements to limit emissions, even if implemented, will not stabilise atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. It is a process that needs to be incorporated in overall development planning, including the design and implementation of projects and programmes across all sectors. Furthermore, vulnerability reduction and by extension adaptation is neither a one-off intervention or stand-alone activity.

May 2002


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Sustainable Forest Management Workshop

[S]ustainable Forest Management Workshop was held in November 2010.

November 2010



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STAP Meeting March 2013

stapmeeting2013[T]he meeting focused heavily on presenting an overview of the draft GEF 6 Focal Area Strategies as well as potential innovative technologies and approaches that might be incorporated into GEF programs and projects. Apart from presentations from the GEF Secretariat and other members of the GEF fraternity, the STAP meeting also welcomed noted experts from academia and other global think-tanks.


STAP Panel

Annette Cowie, Director, Rural Climate Solutions, University of New England and NSW Department of Primary Industries, STAP Land Degradation Panel Member | Presentation: Enhancing the GEF's Contribution to Sustainable Development

GEF Secretariat

Bob Dixon, Climate Change & Chemicals | Presentation: Towards GEF-6, Climate & Chemicals Strategy

Claus Astrup, Front Office | Presentation: GEF 2020 Strategy

Gustavo Fonseca, Natural Resources Management | Presentation: The Dawn of the Anthropocene

Evaluation Office

Aaron Zazueta, Chief Evaluation Officer and Team Leader | Presentation: Fifth Overall Performance Study (OPS5)Evaluation of STAP for OPS5

Specially Invited Experts

Joseph Alcamo, UNEP | Presentation: The Post Rio+20 Agenda, Three Actions Bringing Global Benefits

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, Member of Yale faculty since 2007 | Presentation: Sustainability and Transformative Innovation: Catalytic. Nexus.

Pavan Sukhdev, Yale University (visiting fellow), Former Head of UNEP’s Green Economy Initiative and author of Corporation 2020 | Presentation: How Can GEF Engineer Change?

Washington DC | 20-22 March, 2013

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Expert Workshop: The Political Economy of Regionalism and International Waters

This Expert Workshop is designed to allow for a discussion on the extent and the manner in which regionalization processes influence GEF interventions and how GEF interventions can be better positioned in these processes for mutual benefit.



Fredrik Söderbaum - The Political Economy of Regionalism and International Waters

Phera Ramoeli - Overview of the SADC Transboundary Water Management: River Basin Management

Hashali Hamukuaya - Science to Governance in the BCLME: 20 Years of Institutional and Capacity Building for Integrated Transboundary LME Management

Canisius Kanangire - The Role of LVBC in the EAC Developmental and Integration Agenda

Peter Kanyi Maina - The Role of NELSAP In Regional Integration

Tuğba Evrim Maden - Turkey and the Implementation of the EU Aquis in the Context of Transboundary River Basins

Cletus Springer - Lessons from the Regionalization of Water Programs in the Americas

Robin Mahon - The Importance of Regional Cooperation and Governance Arrangements for Small Island Developing States

Douglas Taylor - Regional Collaboration Lessons Learned

To find more information on this event, 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.




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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Reducing the Long Term Costs of Low Greenhouse Gas-Emitting Energy Technologies

[T]here are two main problems. First, the technologies promoted to date have been regarded as too risky, because they are large scale and capital intensive, produce power which costs more (a financial risk) and also carry higher technological risks. And second, the need to reconcile the global, long-term benefit of lower greenhouse gas emissions with sufficient local benefits, i.e. more reliable generation of electricity at affordable prices.

STAP believes that promoting low greenhouse gas emitting technologies should remain fundamental to the GEF's work.

March 2004


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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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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
| 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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IWC7 Roundtable: The Political Economy of Regionalism and International Waters

The Roundtable will connect the debate about the role of GEF and its projects within a regional political economy. The political economy of regions determines the behavior of individuals, markets and the public authority and is of importance for all GEF operations. The findings of the June 2013 GEF/STAP workshop held in Washington DC, hosted by the Organization of American States: ‘The Political Economy of Regionalism and International Waters’ will be presented and discussed. That workshop considered a draft Issues/Research Paper and representatives of regional organizations agreed that GEF should consider regional processes more systematically regarding project design baseline assessment, regional capacity building and principles for strengthening dialogue at regional level.

Goals and Program

Key Messages


Jakob Granit - The Political Economy of Regionalism: The Relevance for Transboundary Waters and the Global Environment Facility

Robin Mahon - Facilitating Regional Governance Arrangements in the Wider Caribbean Region

Anya Thomas - A Single Space for Transactions in the Caribbean

Max Campos - OAS: Perspectives from a Multipurpose Regional Organization on the Environment and Overarching Goals Related to Peace Justice and Security

To find more information on this event, click 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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