18 June 2019
GEF Council Endorses Projects, Guidelines to Combat Land Degradation
Photo courtesy of Graciela Metternicht
story highlights

The Work Program signals the GEF's shift from a country or sector focus towards landscape-wide transformative programmes.

In his address to the Council, Ibrahim Thiaw, UNCCD Executive Secretary, cited findings that show a “three to one” return on GEF investments in land-related projects.

Draft Guidelines on implementing land degradation neutrality projects developed by the GEF's Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel will be presented to UNCCD COP 14 for approval.

13 June 2019: A significant proportion of the USD 865.9 million allocated to the Work Program of the seventh replenishment of the Global Environment Facility Trust Fund (GEF-7) is targeted at land-related projects. Approved by the 56th meeting of the GEF Council, the Work Program signals GEF’s shift from focusing on a country or sector towards landscape-wide transformative programmes.

Over half of the approved GEF-7 funding was assigned to the four Impact Programs (IPs); food systems, land use, and restoration; Amazon forests; Congo Basin forests; and dryland landscapes. Among other objectives, the IPs aim to address common drivers of environmental degradation, deliver multiple benefits across all the GEF-7 focal areas, and enhance synergies in the implementation of various multilateral environment agreements for which GEF serves as a financial mechanism.

Three of the approved IP projects address, respectively: links between land degradation and agri-food systems in Moldova (co-implemented by the World Bank); restoration of degraded forest landscapes in the Western Andes region of Ecuador (co-implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN – FAO); and sustainable land management of grazing rangelands of the Limpopo and Northern Cape regions of South Africa (co-implemented by the International Union for Conservation of Nature – IUCN).

In addition, all six of the Multi-Focal Area Projects in GEF-7 address sustainable land management and restoration of degraded landscapes across diverse land use systems. Co-implemented by FAO, IUCN, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the projects aim to promote: sustainable rangeland management and biodiversity conservation in vulnerable landscapes of eastern Afghanistan; sustainable agricultural production, supply chains and public-private finance in agroecological landscapes of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka states in India; and an enabling territorial governance framework in Northern Honduras to strengthen connectivity, reduction of threats, and effective management of protected areas and biological corridors.

Other projects address: community-based sustainable management of dryland forest landscapes in the North West Province of Zambia; integrated landscape management and improved land use practices in targeted watersheds of the Dominican Republic; and biodiversity conservation, restoration of degraded lands and improved livelihoods of rural communities in targeted productive landscapes of Trinidad and Tobago.

The Chair of the GEF Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel (STAP), Rosina Bierbaum, reported on developments under the Land Degradation focal area, and the Impact Programs on Drylands, Food Systems, Land Use and Restoration, and Sustainable Forest Management. Discussing the Panel’s contribution to implementation of the land degradation neutrality (LDN) target, Bierbaum shared the draft STAP Guidelines on LDN that will be presented for approval by the 14th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 14) to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in September 2019. Organized around five modules, the LDN Guidelines explain how the concept of land degradation neutrality can serve as an overarching framework for achieving multiple targets under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in a balanced way. Bierbaum said the Guidelines will provide practical assistance to those developing LDN projects through a focus on the foundations necessary to achieve LDN through enabling policies, integrated land use planning, and preparatory assessments.

Also on land-related projects, UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw remarked in his address to the Council that GEF investments in land-related projects show a three-to-one return. He said strengthening links to other global instruments, such as the upcoming Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Climate Change and Land, can contribute to integrated land management at the local level.

Since its creation in 1991, the GEF Trust Fund has been replenished by USD 2.75 billion (GEF-1), USD 3 billion (GEF-2), USD 3.13 billion (GEF-3), USD 3.13 billion (GEF-4), USD 4.34 billion (GEF-5), USD 4.43 billion (GEF-6), and USD 4.1 billion (GEF-7). The 56th meeting of the GEF Council convened from 11-13 June 2019, in Washington DC, US. [GEF-7 Work Program] [IISD Coverage of 56th GEF Council] [GEF Story on Adoption of First GEF-7 Work Program]

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