Chair's Update - June 2018

Greetings! The next few months will prove to be an exciting time for STAP. First, I am excited to share STAP’s new publications which I will launch at the 54th GEF Council Meeting on 25th June 2018. STAP has been working for the last few months to complete the papers, and I am excited to share them with our GEF colleagues – and the scientific community. The papers cover issues relevant to the GEF’s mission as it embarks on its new programming phase starting in July. The papers are: Integration: to solve complex environmental problems; Managing knowledge for a sustainable future; A future food system for healthy human beings and a healthy planet; Plastics and the circular economy; and Environmental Security. STAP also is finalizing three more papers on local commons for global benefits, novel entities and innovation. I will unveil these reports at the GEF Council meeting in December. In addition to these papers, I will also talk about our screening guidelines for GEF projects when I speak to the Council. I am pleased with our efforts as we now have a standardized approach to screening, and to guiding the project proponents on the scientific and technical issues they could consider for strengthening the project design.

Secondly, I am pleased to have been invited by Dr. Naoko Ishii, the GEF CEO, to address the GEF Assembly at their opening day, 27th June. Together with Johan Rockström, I will deliver the message on science.

A third exciting piece of news is that we will hold our meeting on 23rd June – right before the GEF Council meeting and GEF Assembly. The GEF community is invited to come, and join our discussions on climate screening, environmental security, plastics and the circular economy, food systems, and local commons for global benefits. We expect to be busy during the rest of the week participating in side events, roundtables, and other events. We are having three side events: on environmental security (24th June); on spatial planning for protected areas on 24th June (jointly with Conservation International); and on the outcomes of a GEF project on protected area management (26th June).

Over the next six months, there will be multiple comings and goings from STAP.  I am pleased to welcome Dr. Blake Ratner as our Panel Member for International Waters, who joined STAP in October 2017. Dr. Ratner is the Executive Director of Collaborating for Resilience – a cross-regional initiative working to address environmental resource competition and strengthen governance and livelihood resilience in interconnected resource domains and landscapes. Four additional new faces will join STAP over the coming months as we identify successors for: Dr. Annette Cowie (STAP member for land degradation); Dr. Ralph Sims (STAP member for climate change mitigation); Dr. Brian Child (STAP member for biodiversity); and Dr. Ricardo Barra (STAP member for chemicals and waste). We wish the very best to our STAP colleagues, and I am confident that our paths will continue to cross. The GEF and STAP communities are always within our reach.

As I end this note, I would like to honor the life of a very special member of our community. Our much loved, Emeritus Professor Michael Stocking passed away on 21st May. Many of you may have known, or worked with Michael. He was no stranger to our GEF community, having dedicated 13 years to STAP, serving as STAP Vice-Chair and as an adviser to Tom Lovejoy and me. Michael was instrumental in helping to establish the land degradation focal area by defining the scientific rationale that sustainable land management addresses environmental and development objectives. He began making the case that land delivers multiple benefits at the second GEF Assembly in China in 2002.

We are honored to have worked with Michael, and proud to call him our champion for land. Michael had many things to say about farmers’ knowledge and land’s unequivocal value, including this memorable quote: “The livelihoods of most rural people are directly supported by soil; and all of us, whether in recreation or occupation or subsistence, depend upon soil as the hub of all life-supporting processes.”

Michael served STAP with admirable loyalty and grace, and we will miss him tremendously.

Michael Stocking