Multi-Focal Area

Financing Innovation: Opportunities for the GEF

Ahead of the GEF’s 7th replenishment cycle, the Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel (STAP) of the GEF is interested in exploring ways that innovation contributes to GEF objectives, and the GEF may promote innovation more effectively.  This review is also timely insofar as the opportunities and challenges related to innovative approaches have changed dramatically since the GEF’s creation, starting as a pilot in 1991 and formalized by an Instrument in 1994.  GEF responsibilities have greatly expanded, many additional agencies have been given access to GEF resources, and much has been learned about what does – and doesn’t work in response to global environmental challenges.  Advances in technologies have created opportunities for new solutions.  Perhaps most dramatically, the world of global finance has expanded enormously, particularly in the form of private investments and support for new technologies.  The deliberations associated with GEF 7 thus call for a fresh look at the role of the GEF in this rapidly evolving financial landscape.  This paper looks specifically at how GEF might identify and support innovative approaches for the GEF in relation to technology, business models, and policy, as well as opportunities associated with more creative use of financial instruments, particularly non-grant support.

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Science of Integration on Natural Resources Management

The Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel of the Global Environment Facility (STAP/GEF) commissioned an analysis of the science of integration in relation to systems thinking literature. The paper seeks to strengthen the GEF’s efforts on integrated programming by assessing key aspects of integration based on systems thinking principles required to design and implement natural resource management projects.  The analysis focuses on a random sample of cross-cutting GEF projects and case studies to identify challenges and opportunities for the GEF to consider in its future integrated efforts.  The paper and accompanying material on the case studies are presented below.

Science of Integrated Approaches to Natural Resources Management, STAP Information Paper - file attached below.

Annex - Case Studies Detailed Analysis - file attached below. 


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Soil conservation in the 21st century: why we need smart agricultural intensification

Gerard Govers, Roel Merckx, Bas van Wesemael, and Kristof Van Oost

Soil erosion severely threatens the soil resource and the sustainability of agriculture. After decades of research, this problem still persists, despite the fact that adequate technical solutions now exist for most situations. This begs the question as to why soil conservation is not more rapidly and more generally implemented. Studies show that the implementation of soil conservation measures depends on a multitude of factors but it is also clear that rapid change in agricultural systems only happens when a clear economic incentive is present for the farmer. Conservation measures are often more or less cost-neutral, which explains why they are often less generally adopted than expected. This needs to be accounted for when developing a strategy on how we may achieve effective soil conservation in the Global South, where agriculture will fundamentally change in the next century. In this paper we argue that smart intensification is a necessary component of such a strategy. Smart intensification will not only allow for soil conservation to be made more economical, but will also allow for significant gains to be made in terms of soil organic carbon storage, water efficiency and biodiversity, while at the same time lowering the overall erosion risk. While smart intensification as such will not lead to adequate soil conservation, it will facilitate it and, at the same time, allow for the farmers of the Global South to be offered a more viable future.

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Guidelines for Embedding Resilience, Adaptation and Transformation (RAPTA) into GEF Projects

The Resilience, Adaptation Pathways and Transformation Assessment (RAPTA) framework is an approach to embed resilience concepts in development projects so they can better achieve their goals, and deliver durable outcomes in the face of socio-economic uncertainty and rapid environmental change. The Resilience Framework guides participatory assessment of current social-ecological systems, and helps identify measures that can improve their condition in the future. It uses an adaptive learning approach which facilitates refi nement of interventions over time, to improve their effectiveness as conditions continue to change.

How can the Resilience Framework be applied?
The Resilience Framework encourages project developers to think about a system’s capacity to cope with both anticipated and unexpected shocks and stresses, and to determine whether incremental adaptation is required, or whether more fundamental transformational change of the system is needed to achieve long-term sustainability. Resilience thinking helps to focus efforts where interventions will be most effective; it considers multiple temporal and spatial scales,
drivers of change, vulnerabilities and possible thresholds or system tipping points. Project developers are encouraged to work with stakeholders to evaluate:
1. Resilience of what? What are the valued products and services delivered by the system?
2. Resilience to what? What hazards or shocks could impact the system’s capacity to deliver those products and services?
3. Key Determinants? What are the controlling variables of resilience in the system?
4. Points of Infl uence? How can the project affect those key determinants?
5. Project Effectiveness? How will the outcomes of the project be monitored, and lessons applied?

The Resilience guidelines comprise seven modules. Each module provides step- by-step guidance to the user. Much of the material will be familiar to experienced project planners. The framework applies adaptive management during implementation, uses results from monitoring and assessment to revise strategies, and tests hypotheses underlying the project design.

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The RAPTA Guidelines

RAPTA is a unique tool to help project designers and planners build the ideas of resilience, adaptation and transformation into their projects from the start, to ensure outcomes that are practicable, valuable and sustainable through time and change. This report offers practical advice to planners, project managers, policy makers, donors, farmers, researchers and other stakeholders on how to do this. This version of the guidelines was developed especially for meeting challenges around the future security of agriculture but applies equally well to planning for climate change adaptation, urban development, disaster management, biodiversity conservation and other vital fields.

RAPTA offers a fresh dimension to the familiar task of project planning and development – one which allows for rapid social, physical and environmental change in an uncertain world – leading to projects which deliver better results, more durably, reliably and consistently. It seeks to accommodate the rate, magnitude and novelty of the changes we face and the fact that, for these challenges, there are no “off the shelf” solutions. It promotes a structured approach to learning that enables constant improvement and adaptation to change.

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STAP guidance on multifocal area projects

STAP developed guidelines for the design of multi-focal area projects based on the principles of resilience. These principles focus on: participation and system thinking (e.g. participation of stakeholders to gain a complete understanding of the problem and responses; slow variables that monitor the interactions between social and ecological dynamics); system structure (e.g. the connectivity of the various elements in a system); experimentation and learning (e.g. encourage experimentation and learning for the purposes of adaptive management, monitoring and iteration). The matrix in the attached paper delves into these elements. 

For further information about the guidelines, please contact Guadalupe Duron (

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Human well-being impacts of terrestrial protected areas

Andrew S Pullin, Mukdarut Bangpan, Sarah Dalrymple, Kelly Dickson, Neal R Haddaway, John R Healey, Hanan Hauari, Neal Hockley, Julia P G Jones, Teri Knight, Carol Vigurs, and Sandy Oliver

Establishing Protected Areas (PAs) is among the most common conservation interventions. Protecting areas from the threats posed by human activity will by definition inhibit some human actions. However, adverse impacts could be balanced by maintaining ecosystem services or introducing new livelihood options. Consequently there is an ongoing debate on whether the net impact of PAs on human well-being at local or regional scales is positive or negative. We report here on a systematic review of evidence for impacts on human well-being arising from the establishment and maintenance of terrestrial PAs.

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