Reports and Publications

Earth Observation and the GEF

In the 28 years since the Global Environment Facility (GEF) was created, a digital revolution has taken place. Data from satellite remote sensing and other Earth observation technology have become much more regular, widespread, less costly and accessible. Together with scientific and technological advances such as cloud computing, machine learning, and data sharing, these data offer more opportunity to observe, monitor, and predict environmental and social phenomena with greater efficiency and precision.

Many GEF projects and programs are using Earth observation data to design, implement, monitor, and evaluate interventions. However, the uptake and use of Earth observation technology by GEF agencies is uneven. Since 2017, the Project Information Form (PIF) requires project proponents to provide a map and geo-coordinates of the project’s location.  A PIF map could benefit from being integrated with information derived from Earth observation, but there remains limited guidance on how this information should be provided.

The STAP document provides a summary of a more detailed technical primer currently under development to encourage greater use of Earth observation data and technologies in GEF projects. This will provide: a detailed explanation of Earch observation, including information on data sources and platforms; GEF and non-GEF case studies to illustrate how these data and tools can be used; guidance on how to meet the requirement to provide a project map and geo-coordinates; and recommendations to encourage the use of Earth observation by the GEF.

Published Date:
12/2019

Harnessing Blockchain Technology for the Delivery of Global Environmental Benefits

Blockchain has been identified as a technology that can be used to address several sustainable development challenges, including for solving environmental challenges. STAP's paper on Novel Entities identified it as an important technology that can be beneficial to the work of the GEF. In this paper, STAP explores further how blockchain can contribute to achieving the objectives of the focal areas and Impact Programs of the GEF. The paper is based on a review of the relevant literature, and a STAP workshop that brought together experts on the environmental applictation of blockchain and members of the GEF Partnership. The paper explains what blockchain is and how blockchain could be used to deliver environmental benefits - particularly for the GEF. It also points out some of the challenges and barriers to using the technology and concludes with recommendations to the GEF.

 

 

Published Date:
12/2019

Theory of Change Primer

This primer provides a synthesis of guidance specifically aimed at carrying out Theory of Change in processes in a GEF context. The document is part of a growing suite of STAP documents intended to support the design of interventions within GEF's goal to apply leading practices to deliver transformational change. The primer provides a brief overview of the origin of Theory of Change; defines what is a Theory of Change; explains why developing and carrying out a Theory of Changes is necessary; describes when to do a Theory of Change; and, provides a succinct guide on how to do a Theory of Change. The primer also makes a distinction between Theory of Changes for projects and programs - given their distinct cycles. In addition, the document provides, examples of Theory of Change, and sources of further information. The primer is accompanied by a short literature review and annotated bibliography. The primer and its supplement are listed below.

Published Date:
12/2019

Multi-stakeholder dialogue for transformative change

November 2019, STAP and The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation held a workshop in November on multi-stakeholder dialogue and transformational change in social-ecological systems at the Moore Foundation headquarters in Palo Alto, California. The GEF and the Moore Foundation have shared programming interests, on biodiversity conservation in the Amazon, and on reducing the loss and degradation of forest ecosystems from the production of agricultural commodities. At the core of the GEF and the Moore Foundation’s work is creating the conditions to maximize impact through scaling, creating enduring change, and transforming social-ecological systems to maintain their resilience. 

The workshop considered three topics: 

•             What is the evidence regarding the role of multi-stakeholder dialogue (MSD) in influencing transformation in social-ecological systems?

•             What lessons can be derived from past experiences regarding strategies to build and sustain such multi-stakeholder dialogue processes?

•             What implications does this have for GEF programming?

The Meridian Institute undertook a background literature review examining these quesitons, with particular emphasis on the role and potential of multi-stakeholder dialogues processes at the regional and global scale. This literature review and Meridian's draft workshop summary are listed below.

 

 

Published Date:
12/2019

Achieving enduring outcomes from GEF investment

Investment in GEF-7 is increasingly seeking greater integration and more innovation, and for investments to be scaled to deliver transformational change and consequently much more impact. The GEF needs to be confident that global environmental benefits will endure. 

The extensive literature on achieving project outcomes and impact increasingly emphasises success factors focused specifically on durability. The simple logic chain here is that engaging key stakeholders and incentivising them will build stakeholder trust and motivation; building the capacity of stakeholders and institutions as part of incentivising them as well as emphasising diversity of inputs will help ensure enduring capacity and financing; emphasising diversity and adaptability along with a good application of systems thinking and learning will build resilience in the outcomes.

In an earlier paper, STAP made recommendations on how to improve integration in the design of GEF projects. There are common elements in this paper on durability which builds on and extends those recommendations, and other previous STAP analysis, to show how to embed the requirement to consider long-term durability more explicitly in project outcomes and impacts.

This paper also sets out principles for securing durability in project outcomes and impacts built round four themes: engaging the right stakeholders; building the incentives for these key actors to act; incorporating adequate diversity and flexibility in project design and implementation; and underpinning it all with a systems-thinking approach. Enduring transformational change will require consideration of new stakeholders, new partnerships, and multi-stakeholder platforms.

 

Appendix to STAP paper, "Achieving enduring outcomes from GEF investment": a short literature review

This appendix reviews literature on sustainability and durability in project outcomes, coupled with scaling of impact and sustainability of projects in the face of future change.  About 100 sources were reviewed, including mostly peer-reviewed literature but also assessments of project portfolios by a range of development funders and foundations.  This appendix summarizes key findings from this literature outside the GEF family of reports from STAP and the IEO.  The main text draws selectively on this appendix, and also links it to findings framed by GEF publications.

Published Date:
06/2019

Guidelines for Land Degradation Neutrality

In 2015 the UNCCD introduced the new concept of Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN), which was later adopted as a target of Goal 15 of the SDGs, Life on Land: 120 countries have committed to pursue voluntary LDN targets.

The objectives of LDN are to: maintain or improve the sustainable delivery of ecosystem services; maintain or improve productivity, in order to enhance food security; increase resilience of the land and populations dependent on the land; seek synergies with other social, economic and environmental objectives; and reinforce responsible and inclusive governance of land.

The fundamental aim of LDN is to preserve the land resource base, by ensuring no net loss of healthy and productive land, at national level. This goal is to be achieved through a combination of measures that avoid, reduce and reverse land degradation. Achieving LDN requires estimating the likely cumulative impacts of land use and land management decisions, and counterbalancing anticipated losses through strategically-planned rehabilitation or restoration of degraded land, within the same land type.

These guidelines offer practical help to those developing projects which contribute to Land Degradation Neutrality.

Each of the five modules presents key concepts, principles, and practical steps for implementation.

The complete guidelines were presented in September 2019 at the UNCCD COP 14 in Delhi.

Published Date:
06/2019

Local commons for global benefits: indigenous and community-based management of wild species, forests and drylands

A large proportion – up to half – of the world’s land area is used or communally-managed by indigenous people and local communities (IPLCs). This includes a large share of the planet’s remaining high-quality, high-biodiversity ecosystems. These lands are critical for achieving global environmental benefits related to biodiversity, climate change mitigation, and addressing land degradation through the management and conservation of wild species, forests, and drylands – here collectively referred to as “wild resources”.

However, governance over much of these lands is weak. Communities have no legally recognized tenure – a fundamental basis for robust governance – over around 80% of this area. At the same time, central governments often lack the capacity and resources to effectively manage these vast and often remote lands. This creates de facto “open access” areas susceptible to uncontrolled and destructive exploitation, which may be via mining, logging, agricultural encroachment, hunting, or wildlife trafficking.

Strengthening community rights to manage land and resources is showing promise as an approach to deliver on biodiversity, climate change mitigation, and land degradation objectives. Clear principles and fundamental design characteristics have emerged from extensive research to guide interventions to support and establish robust governance of local “commons” – and interventions often fail when these are not followed.

There is a clear need and opportunity for the GEF to stimulate transformational change through restoring, strengthening, or establishing sound and inclusive community-based governance of traditional “commons”, promoting achievement of global environmental benefits.

Published Date:
06/2019

STAP guidance on climate risk screening

GEF investments are increasingly exposed to risks associated with climate change and natural disasters. At the same time, GEF funding contributes to the resilience of human and natural systems in the face of these risks. The need to systematically identify and address climate and disaster-related risks across GEF investments was identified by STAP and recognized by the GEF Council in 2010 (GEF/C.39/Inf.18, Enhancing Resilience to Reduce Climate Risks: Scientific Rationale for the Sustained Delivery of Global Environmental Benefits in GEF Focal Areas). The GEF Council asked STAP to examine the effects of climate change on GEF projects. More recently, the UNFCCC COP requested the GEF to “to take into consideration climate risks in all its programs and operations, as appropriate, keeping in mind lessons learned and best practices” (2016).

In December 2018, the GEF Council approved a new Environmental and Social Safeguards policy. On climate change and disaster risks, the new policy states that, “short- and long-term risks posed by climate change and other natural hazards are considered systematically in the screening, assessment and planning processes…. based on established methodologies, and significant risks and potential impacts are addressed throughout the design and implementation of projects and programs”.

This STAP guidance proposes a common standard for climate risk screening of GEF projects based on the scientific literature and builds on earlier work undertaken over the last several years in response to the Council’s request that STAP examine the effects of climate change on GEF projects.  At a minimum, each agency should use a risk screening process that includes four steps (hazard identification, assessment of vulnerability and exposure, risk classification, risk mitigation plan), ranks risks according to a clearly defined scale, and uses the best available data.

Published Date:
06/2019

Innovation and the GEF

The GEF was created to be innovative in its design, governance, and operation. Determining how the GEF would be "innovative" in technology, promoting policies, sector transformation, and business models, has been a central debate ever since. The GEF has evolved in many ways -- expanding its scope, adding more agency partners, testing new modalities, and more. Nevertheless, the world in which it operates has changed even more dramatically.

The GEF invests about $1 billion each year. Public expenditure will never be enough to solve major environmental problems. This means doing much more with the funds available: finding ways to leverage more investment for each GEF dollar, identifying creative uses of emerging technologies, and engaging a wider range of partners to promote policy and institutional reform.

All of the GEF agencies have extensive experience in supporting technological, institutional, and business innovations. The incentives for greater innovation in the GEF are clear: increased environmental effectiveness (to achieve deeper and wider changes), economic efficiency (to achieve more benefits for the same amount of investment), and the longevity of results (to secure self-sustaining mechanisms with durable outcomes).

This paper reviews the GEF's experience with innovation in technology, finance, business models, policy, and institutional change, and makes a number of recommendations in each of these contexts. In addition, it makes a number of cross-cutting recommendations on: defining a risk appetite; responsibility for innovation; cultivating innovation in design; and encouraging adaptive implementation and the exchange of lessons.

Published Date:
02/2019

Novel entities

A valuable lesson from past ‘innovative’ or ‘novel’ solutions to human challenges is the later realization that some choices led to unintended harm to the Earth’s system. For instance, chlorofluorocarbons -  introduced for use in the manufacture of aerosol sprays, blowing agents, solvents, and as replacements for toxic refrigerants -  were later discovered to deplete stratospheric ozone. Similarly, several chemicals intended to improve agriculture and industrial processes, such as dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) and polychlorinated biphenyl (PCBs), were later found to be persistent pollutants that harm the ecosystem and human health. One of the challenges for the GEF is deciding which new technologies offer solutions that can increase global environmental benefits while minimizing  potential adverse  impacts, how these technologies relate to its mission, in what time frame, and what strategies will capture the most benefits. STAP therefore, commissioned a study to identify new and upcoming technological advances relevant to GEF’s work and to develop an approach for responding to them. These so-called ‘novel entities,’ are defined as “things created and introduced into the environment by human beings that could have positive or negative disruptive effects on the Earth’s system.”

Published Date:
12/2018

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