News and Updates

STAP Evidence Contributes to Decision on Marine and Coastal Biodiversity

cop-logo_1The evidence presented by STAP contributes to the CBD COP-11 decision on marine and coastal biodiversity

[T]wo reports prepared by STAP in collaboration with the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) were presented to the 11th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the CBD held in Hyderabad, India on 8-19 October 2012. These reports - Marine Spatial Planning in the Context of the Convention on Biological Diversity: A study carried out in response to CBD COP 10 decision X/29 andImpacts of Marine Debris on Biodiversity: Current Status and Potential Solutions,played an important role in informing CBD COP Decision XI/18 addressing impacts of marine debris on marine and coastal biodiversity (Section I, para 25-27) and marine spatial planning (Section III), respectively.

COP-11 decision on marine spatial planning requests CBD Parties and other partners to support further efforts on advancing marine spatial planning through development of guidance and information sharing as well as capacity building. CBD COP-11 recognizes firmly marine spatial planning as a useful tool in enhancing marine and coastal area management, including identification of ecologically or biologically significant marine areas, marine protected areas and other marine and coastal biodiversity spatial conservation measures.

The COP-11 decision on marine debris is the first time CBD acknowledges the global importance of the impacts of marine debris on marine and coastal biodiversity at the highest level. After the Convention on Migratory Species and itsCOP decision on marine debris, CBD calls on CBD parties and other partners to further their work to better understand these impacts, prepare practical guidance on preventing and mitigating impacts of marine debris on ecosystems, and enhance regional capacity building efforts to prevent and reduce sources of marine debris.

Prepared By: Lev Neretin

Hyderabad | 8-19 October 2012

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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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Climate Resilience

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

November 2010



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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 (


Background Note ||

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Sustainable Forest Management Workshop

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

November 2010



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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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