GEF Science Panel joins the community of transboundary waters practitioners at the 8th GEF biennial international waters conference in Sri Lanka

(Negombo, Sri Lanka) May 15th 2016: The Eighth GEF Biennial International Waters Conference (IWC-8) concludedon May 15th 2016 in Negombo, western Sri Lanka. Participants coming from over 80 countries met at the IWC8 to share lessons from 70 active GEF projects that addressed the conference theme of Scaling Up Investments from Source to Sea in the Context of Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The gathering was also an opportunity to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the GEFpartnership and its support for sustainable management of transboundary water systems.  STAP was a member of the Conference Steering Committee and co-organized two events at ICW-8 in addition to contributing to lively dialogues and discussions over the course of the five day conference. Attendees deliberated on a range of issues including:  the water-energy-food nexus;  the linkage of data management to policy; approaches to private sector engagement; gender mainstreaming; catalyzing sectoral transformation; strengthening transboundary water governance, including links to regional investments; and scaling-up project demonstrations for larger impact.

In partnership with the Source-to-Sea Platform (S2S), Jakob Granit, STAP Panelist and soon to be Director-General for the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management, presented conclusions and recommendations of a new STAP-commissioned research paper. This paper presents a conceptual framework to enhance the understanding of source-to-sea systems that can guide the design of future GEF or other initiatives aimed at supporting “green” and “blue” growth. The research paper builds on the experiences from the GEF International Waters portfolio and includes taxonomy of key flows of water, sediment, biota and materials, and pollutants; identifies the elements to guide analysis and planning, and presents a common framework for elaborating a cause and effect framework (or theory of change). Birgitta Liss Lymer from the Stockholm International Water Institute and S2S Platform Coordinator moderated the session“Governance and management of resources in a source-to-sea continuum – challenges and opportunities”. Attendees highlighted the importance of assuring political will and providing incentives for collaboration between upstream and downstream stakeholders, improving information and data access, integrating blue and green development agenda in source-to-sea management frameworks, addressing power differentials among collaborators and stakeholders, and, ultimately, strengthening governance, institutional frameworks and mechanisms with mandates across all geographical segments in a source-to-sea continuum.

Additional information: Press-release of the S2S Platform with further details is available here. STAP Information Paper for the 50th GEF Council “A Conceptual Framework for Governing and Managing Key Flows in a Source-to-Sea Continuum: Summary and Recommendations for the GEF Partnership” is available to download.

The results of STAP’s ongoing work on governance of areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ) was presented jointly at a workshop entitled “Open Oceans” by Dr. Henrik Ringbom, Professor at the Scandinavian Institute of Maritime Law and one of the co-authors of the upcoming STAP Advisory Document and Jakob Granit. The workshop was led by the UN Food and Agriculture Program (FAO)and addressed the three crucial elements for sustainable management and conservation in the ABNJ; governance, capacity building and the impacts of fishing on biodiversity. Panelists also discussed progress made in the implementation of the ongoing GEF-supported Common Oceans ABNJ Program:. At the meeting, STAP experts emphasized that in order to effectively manage multiple uses of ABNJ, the existing legal and management gaps and opportunities should be addressed and adapted to changing conditions in the future. Among them are lack and inadequacy of the existing rules and often lack of enforcement as well as institutional governance gaps and the absence of universally agreed governance principles in the ABNJ. Many of these issues are being currently discussed by the UN parties at the Preparatory Committee established by the UN General Assembly Resolution 69/292 “Development of an International Legally Binding Instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biological Diversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction”.

Further information about the event is available at the Common Oceans Program website.

Videos, photographs, presentations, synopses, various inputs including participant list, posters, submitted films and other ICW8 materials will be available at the IW:LEARN website soon.