|United Nations System-Wide
SECOND REPORT ON INTERNATIONAL SCIENTIFIC ADVISORY PROCESSES ON THE ENVIRONMENT AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT FACILITY
The STAP Secretariat
STAP was established as an advisory body
to the GEF. STAP has five principal areas of work:
Organization and Dynamics
Membership: The Executive Director
of UNEP, in consultation with UNDP, the World Bank and the GEF Secretariat
appoints the members of STAP and also designates a Chairperson and Vice
Chairperson. The members are ordinarily be appointed for a term of three
years. The composition of STAP, including the Roster of Experts, reflects:
Roster of Experts
Significance: For the purposes of conducting mandatory review of all GEF projects, STAP maintains a Roster of Experts. The STAP roster makes a significant contribution to the GEF project review process as it ensures the scientific and technical soundness of GEF projects. It is the operational responsibility of the Implementing Agencies to select an expert from the roster and to provide the person with the necessary information to carry out the review of the project proposal prior to submission for the bilateral review. STAP maintains the quality of the roster through a number of quality control mechanisms including the performance review of the reviewers, standardization of the content of the reviews and conflict of interest provisions.
The present version of the STAP Roster of Experts was published as a hard copy and on diskette in 1996. Simultaneously an Access database containing the CVs was developed and is being maintained by the STAP Secretariat. An addendum was published in 1997. Three years since its establishment, the STAP Roster of Experts is recognized by the Council members, the GEF Secretariat and the Implementing Agencies as a unique tool to ensure the scientific and technical soundness of GEF projects, bringing an independent viewpoint to the project cycle. During those three years, STAP concentrated on further developing the database, refining the operational guidelines, analysing its use by the Implementing Agencies and exploring ways to use the roster to its full potential. In the past year, STAP established a web site with dynamic access to the Roster of Experts database. Through this web site the database is now available on the Internet. The owners of the data can update their CVs on-line on the web and experts who have been selected by STAP to be on the roster can fill out the CV form on-line and send it under password protection. This approach allows a continuously updated roster that can be easily expanded to accommodate the Implementing Agencies' needs for specific expertise.
Experiences with Membership Composition, Structures and Processes
As an Independent Evaluation of the GEF Pilot Phase1 showed, GEF and indeed STAP had substantial problems. These problems included that the criteria set forth to judge whether GEF funds should be allocated were ”arbitrary and not sufficiently spelled out”. Moreover, STAP was judged to be poor in providing analytic frameworks to guide GEF, it lacked influence and communications from Nairobi were poor. However, the original STAP was judged to be effective in prioritizing proposals.
In 1994, GEF and STAP were restructured. STAP was established as an advisory body of GEF to provide objective, strategic, scientific and technical advice on GEF policies, operational strategies and programmes, to conduct selective reviews of projects in certain circumstances and at specific points in the project cycle and to maintain a roster of experts.
Since the inception of GEF in 1991, STAP has been reconstituted three times: (i) GEF pilot phase, (ii) phase 1 of the restructured GEF, and (iii) phase two of the restructured GEF 1998-2002. During the pilot phase, STAP focused primarily on the review of GEF projects. STAP's focus shifted during phase 1 towards the provision of strategic advice marking the period during which the restructured GEF formulated its Operational Strategy and Operational Programmes. During this phase the STAP Roster of Experts was completed and published. One of STAP's major contributions in phase 1 lay in the promotion of the Global International Waters Assessment (GIWA) now in its implementation phase. STAP continuously argued that the lack of an international Waters Assessment comparable to that of the IPCC and the Global Biodiversity Assessment was a serious impediment to the implementation of the International Waters component of the GEF. Building on STAP's work concerning the need and feasibility of such an assessment, UNEP took the lead in formulating an approach for a GIWA in collaboration with the wider scientific community.
In November 1997 the GEF Council reviewed the incorporation of STAP advice into its decisions.
Results of the Review: The review revealed that the Implementing Agencies found STAP work useful, with evidence showing that the work was incorporated into their activities, the experience of which varied by Agency and type of activity. STAP's strategic advice was perceived as most useful when the timing and content most closely matched policy development within the Secretariat. For example, STAP's technical energy-related work, focusing on the strategically important concepts that underlie specific operational programmes helped to push the Secretariat's policy work forward as the portfolios were reviewed against the programmatic objectives set. Another observation made in the report is that when STAP's advice focused on the fast-moving scientific and technical areas where the GEF and its Implementing Agencies do not maintain the requisite skills on a permanent basis, it is particularly helpful and easy to incorporate. STAP's advice has also been most readily incorporated when it was operationally focused. When papers produced by STAP are very general in scope, their practical use was limited.
The agencies agreed that the project reviews by roster experts have added considerable value to project design, review, and approval decisions. It is a requirement that each project proposal explicitly states how the observations and recommendations of the reviewer have been taken into account in the project design.
The experience with selective reviews shows that they can lead to the strengthening of the scientific aspects of the project and to a greater involvement of national scientists.
Strategic Advice: Since the report was considered by the GEF Council, STAP has continued to provide strategic advice to the GEF on a demand-driven basis. STAP's task has been facilitated by the annual provision, during the STAP meeting in fall, by the GEF Secretariat of a detailed assessment and overview of the status of the GEF Operational Programmes, with the view of identifying key scientific and technical issues which should be addressed by STAP in the next year. Advice was given on a number of issues, including POPs, GEF's policy framework on Sustainable Forestry, SIDS, Green Certifiers, Land Degradation Interlinkages (see below) and OTEC.
Aside from canvassing scientific opinions on the scientific and technical issues underpinning the GEF focal areas as a basis of formulating its strategic recommendations, STAP also played an important role in shaping the new Operational Programmes. For example, STAP was invited to participate in the process of preparing an operational Programme on Agro-biodiversity with the view of providing the scientific and technical elements which should underpin such an Operational Programme (OP). STAP's input is the preparation process was structured in two phases: (a) A selective review of the GEF pilot phase project Ethiopia: A Dynamic Farmer-Based Approach to the Conservation of African Plant Genetic Resources, to draw out practical lessons which could assist in the design of the OP. (b) A brainstorming session on Agro-biodiversity to review the various approaches relevant to the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity important to agriculture and to provide guidance to the GEF on the various elements which could be included in the OP. STAP also helped to shape the Transportation and Integrated Ecosystem Operational Programmes.
Both the SIDS and East African Lakes workshops organized by STAP underscored the merit of a programmatic approach now evolving in the GEF, in which science and technology inputs would be brought in on a sustained basis.
One of STAP's strengths is its cross-disciplinarity, as made apparent at the brainstorming on POPs, which highlighted the complexity of assessing the effects of POPs on ecosystems, and which centred on a wide range of issues, including socio-economic aspects, relevant for the understanding the scope of POPs.
As a result of the discussions held at the STAP workshops and brainstorming in financial year 2000, STAP plans to devote a full day at its next meeting to explore how best it can bring together its varied expertise to bear on the cross-cutting issues of relevance to the GEF.
Mobilizing the Wider Scientific Community: Following the New Delhi statement of the first GEF Assembly calling on the GEF to build strong relationships and networks with the global scientific community, STAP, which acts as a conduit between the GEF and the wider scientific and technical community, made the “Mobilization of the Wider Scientific and Technical Community in GEF Work” one of its priorities. STAP's efforts were directed towards providing a forum for and establishing a dialogue with scientists and technologists with the aim of obtaining their views on the most appropriate mechanisms to involve them in the different phases of the GEF project cycle and to identify modalities for integrating science into GEF operations. STAP is working with the two important new initiatives, the Capacity Development Initiative and the Country Dialogue Workshops to help in an assessment of the possible roles of the scientific and technical community and to suggest ways and means that it comes to play more meaningful roles.
Monitoring and Evaluation: Aside from active participation in the annual Programme Implementation Review, STAP contributed to the development of the biodiversity and climate change indicators.
Work and Outputs
STAP reports to each regular meeting of the GEF Council and, if requested, to the GEF Assembly on the status of its activities. UNEP provides STAP's Secretariat and operates as its liaison with the GEF.
STAP interacts in a complementary manner with other relevant scientific and technical bodies, particularly with the subsidiary bodies of the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the Convention to Combat Desertification. For focal areas in which the GEF is not operating as a convention's financial mechanism, STAP advises on the development of scientific and technical criteria and provides scientific and technical advice on priorities for GEF funding. For example, although GEF is not a financial mechanism for the CCD, a workshop was held by STAP on land degradation interlinkages in Bologna, Italy, from 14-16 June 1999. Forty independent experts and UN agency representatives including the GEF, UNEP, UNDP and CCD attended. The workshop contributed to the further understanding of the scientific and technical linkages between land degradation and the GEF focal areas of climate change, biodiversity and international waters, with a view to increasing GEF's support to activities related to land degradation. STAP's input was used as a basis for the formulation of the Action Plan on Land Degradation. This initiative took place within the overall context of a planned timetable agreed to between STAP and the GEF Secretariat. The outputs of the various STAP initiatives were therefore fed into the preparation of the GEF/UNCCD policy paper, entitled Defining the Linkage Between Land Degradation and the GEF Focal Areas: an Action Strategy for Developing GEF Support (GEF/C.13/4, 8-10 December 1999).
1 Report of the Independent Evaluation of the Global Environment Facility Pilot Phase, 23 November 1993, prepared by Stjepan Keckes for UNEP, UNDP, and The World Bank
UN System-wide Earthwatch