Daily report for 5 December 2015

Rio Conventions Pavilion (RCP) at UNFCCC COP 21

The fifth day of the RCP at UNFCCC COP21 commenced on Saturday, 5 December 2015, in Paris, France. Aiming to highlight the synergies achievable between the conventions that GEF serves as a financial mechanism to, ‘GEF Day’ discussed: the GEF Integrated Approach Pilot (IAP) programmes promoting new, innovative ways to tackle drivers of global environmental degradation; and, facilitating synergies for sustainable development. A panel discussion between civil society organizations (CSOs) and the GEF CEO also took place. The final session of the day saw the book ‘Vision 2100: Stories from Your Future’ being launched, and was followed by a reception.


Mohamed Bakarr, GEF, introduced the GEF IAPs. Noting that the GEF has several focal areas, inter alia, biodiversity, land degradation, and climate change, he explained the new integrated model to tackle several focal areas together, in line with the GEF 2020 Strategy and the SDGs. 

OVERVIEW OF THE INTEGRATED PROGRAMMES: Food Security: Bertrand Reysset, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), explained the IAP on food security, which takes a multi-benefit approach. He stated that it is currently being piloted in 12 countries, focusing on supporting small agriculture, and food value chains. He underscored that a focus on sustainable land management both improves soil fertility and genetic diversity, thus ensuring carbon sequestration and biodiversity protection, respectively.

Sustainable Cities: Noting rapid urban population growth, Xueman Wang, World Bank, stated, “sustainable futures require sustainable cities,” pointing to SDG11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities). She provided an overview of a project, which is being piloted across 24 cities in 11 countries, sharing examples on transit-oriented development, waste management, and watersheds. She urged for people-centered urban planning for low-carbon resilient cities, and financing, including through PPPs.

Commodity Supply Chains: Underscoring the importance of land issues to address climate change, Iain Henderson, UNEP, urged for taking deforestation out of commodity supply chains. He stressed the importance of financing and partnerships, stating, “sustainable production means many things,” from reducing fertilizer use to improving social systems. Henderson also noted that the project involves multiple agencies, benefiting from their different experiences to help further implementation among different stakeholders and at different scales.

IAP PROJECTS FEEDBACK: Bakarr then introduced the panel, with country representatives outlining their respective GEF IAP projects.

Alimata Kone Bakayoko, Ministry of Economy and Finances, Côte d’Ivoire, described addressing traffic congestion and air pollution in Abidjan through the Côte d’Ivoire IAP on sustainable cities. Noting that the project is still in the planning stage, she said the pilot will place a focus on enhancing human mobility, mainstreaming clean transport, and improving industrial air quality.

Stephen Muwaya, Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Uganda, described addressing food security and climate change, taking an integrated synergies approach in the Ugandan IAP on food security. Focusing on fragile regions in Uganda, he outlined work on land degradation, biodiversity, and income diversification at the smallholder farmer scale. He called for synergizing national policies for more effective implementation.

Putera Parthama, Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Indonesia, spoke on reducing deforestation under the national programme, but also emphasized that Indonesia’s need to develop will require some planned deforestation activities to meet food, fuel and fiber demands. He referenced commitments on deforestation within Indonesia’s INDC, saying the Indonesian IAP on commodity supply chains will build on existing projects for stronger implementation.

David McCauley, WWF, reflected on the challenging environmental issues faced in the panelists’ countries, and outlined WWF’s work with buyers to promote sustainable commodity demand. He underscored the important role of knowledge management, and bringing together actors within the process of promoting responsible demand.

The ensuing discussion touched upon: the IAP projects being in their initial stages; the relationship between logging and multinational companies; links between drivers and financial streams; involvement of civil society in IAPs; opportunities for investment in integrated approaches; capacities and infrastructure for data collection and management to evaluate the efficacy of projects; and, inclusiveness in project planning and implementation.

Responding to questions, Bakayoko noted that the Côte d’Ivoire IAP has included private sector involvement in the cities programme. On data collection and management, Wang stressed that assisting cities with data issues is one of the components of the IAP.

Muwaya, responding to a question on using data to feed into risk-related insurance for small producers, said one of the challenges faced in Uganda is that many small producers rely on rain-fed systems, and in times of serious drought, this poses a big risk to food security and production. He said that systems such as risk-related insurance would help resolve some of the compensation issues that would subsequently arise.

Chizuro Aoki, GEF, closing the session, lauded the projects for showing that the bridge between global negotiations and local implementation exists.


This session was moderated by Gustavo Fonseca, Director of Programs, GEF. He opened by saying that the number of conventions that the GEF serves as a financial mechanism to, has increased, leading to increased fragmentation of funding. He stated that the GEF is aiming to increase impact from the projects it funds, saying that this can be achieved by leveraging synergies between the multiple conventions. He stated that the session aims to look at the barriers to implementation, and try to ‘connect the dots’ for effective implementation.

Frank Schroeder, Senior Advisor on Climate Finance, UN Secretary-General’s Climate Change Support Team, called for an ‘action agenda’ on climate change, stressing the importance of finance and sustainable energy. He lauded the SDGs as a ‘new investment pipeline’ to tackle climate change as a crosscutting issue, and called sustainable energy ‘fundamental’ for sustainable development, suggesting bundling small projects together to become attractive for investors.

Niclas Svenningsen, UNFCCC, acknowledged that while the Rio Conventions, “come from the same mother,” they have different mandates. He urged for better collaboration to improve implementation and financing efficiency, and lauded GEF for supporting this. Referring to the growing significance of the adaptation agenda, he noted this requires an automatic examination of biodiversity and LDN concerns.

Underscoring that 12 million hectares of fertile land are lost every year, Markus Repnik, Managing Director, Global Mechanism of the UNCCD, emphasized the significance of the UNCCD’s new LDN target. Calling it a ‘paradigm shift’ to move from land degradation, to degradation neutrality and restoration, he lauded SDG15 (Life on Land) for its support. He urged for bringing the environmental agenda into the economic agenda to incentivize investment.

David Ainsworth, CBD Secretariat, described overlaps between the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and the SDGs, the LDN target, and climate change mitigation and adaptation, respectively. He outlined linkages between biodiversity and, among others, human wellbeing, provision of food, land restoration, reducing habitat loss, enhancing carbon stocks, and increasing resilience and adaptation. He underscored that the SDGs present an opportunity to mainstream biodiversity within other sectors.

Chizuru Aoki outlined the progress made from establishing the GEF and the process of moving towards more integrated approaches in an increasingly complex world. She emphasized countries’ current demands for cross-sectoral approaches to address sustainable development challenges and for integrated implementation.

Rose Mukankomeje, Director General, Rwanda Environment Management Authority, expressing appreciation for the integrated approach of the SDGs, compared to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), highlighted the need to synergize reporting requirements across the Rio Conventions to reduce barriers for implementation. She emphasized using a people-centered approach, drawing on examples of protected area conservation. She called for crossing sectors, and mainstreaming biodiversity and climate change issues within development implementation activities, citing the landscape approach as a useful tool.

Discussion and panelist closing remarks touched on: channels for supporting countries to mainstream integration of the Rio Conventions; opportunities to include ecosystem services economic thinking in the conventions, and within the private sector; the need for integrated national policies supporting civil society and private sector implementation; the need for the conventions to adapt to facilitate integration; project implementation as the potential bottleneck given the abundance of commitments; consideration of the different timetables of different strategies in integrated approaches; and, the GEF as a vehicle to do things ‘successfully.’


Ramón Cruz, Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP), and GEF-CSO Network Focal Point for North America, opened the dialogue, highlighting that over 500 CSOs are participants in the network. He noted CSOs’ work in relation to the GEF, stating that they assist in implementation, provide monitoring and feedback, and share lessons learned.

Lauding the SDGs as ‘universal goals’ that take cognizance of ‘planetary boundaries,’ Naoko Ishii, CEO and Chairperson, GEF, said that she was “enjoying this moment,” at COP21 where countries, cities, businesses, key sectors, and CSOs are finally coming together to address the future of the planet. She announced commitments of circa US$250 million for GEF’s Least Developed Countries (LDC) Fund, stating that this is a good indication of prioritization to those most vulnerable to climate change, while at the same time recognizing the need for additional funding. She explained GEF’s transition of priorities to focus more on ‘integrated’ systemic challenges, highlighting sustainable cities, food security in Africa, and global commodities as part of this new focus.

In the dialogue between Ishii and the CSOs, the CSOs asked questions and sought clarification on issues such as the role of cities and local governments to address climate change. Ishii and other GEF representatives explained that while the GEF traditionally worked largely with national governments, they are increasingly attempting to work with city actors, such as mayors, with Ishii describing cities as a key stakeholder to address climate change.

Other issues addressed, inter alia: how local or regional NGOs and CSOs can access support from the GEF SGP, with responses suggesting that they contact their national networks; how to improve communication among regional GEF-CSO networks; and the inclusion of indigenous peoples and vulnerable communities, as well as women, as priority groups for funding via the GEF SGP. 

Delfin Ganapin, Global Manager, GEF SGP, explaining that financial support is limited, and suggested finding other ways to engage with and support CSOs, such as through sharing knowledge. On improving networking among the GEF CSO Network, the ‘Communities Connect’ platform was referred to as a means to exchange best practices and share successful projects among the GEF-CSO Network.


Book contributor, Claus Astrup, GEF, introduced the launch of the book, ‘Visions 2100: Stories from Your Future,’ with opening remarks by the author, John O’Brien, Founder, Australian CleanTech and Sino CleanTech.

O’Brien described the need for a positive, optimistic vision of the future to inspire serious environmental and climate change action. Drawing on science from psychology and decision making, he outlined how climate action is rational but, decisions are emotional, and fear as an emotion cannot result in long-term behavior change. Therefore, he said, there is a need for positive storytelling, which is what his book aims to do by sharing leading environmental thinkers’ and leaders’ visions of the future in 2100. Using storytelling “to bring forward the challenge,” O’Brien, said, “having a vision of a better future is likely to result in the world being better.”

Four of the book contributors then presented their visions of the future in 2100, and spoke on the process they went through in developing their stories.

John Gibbons, ThinkOrSwim, used his vision titled, ‘The Age of Madness’ to “ring the bell,” saying, “sometimes we need to see and feel the nightmare to avoid it.” He said, “we know where we don’t want to go, but we need to figure out how not to get there,” referencing the 21st century as being “the peak of everything.”

Rohan Hamden, Rohan Hamden and Associates, presented an optimistic vision of the future, reflecting upon his anthropology studies of Australian aboriginal tribes in university, and, how in every culture and community there are ‘geniuses.’ Drawing on the view of the capacity to have geniuses make contributions and transfer their knowledge over generations, his vision titled, ‘The Century of Awakening’ used the connectivity of the internet to scale-up and disseminate solutions to global challenges.

Dessima Williams, Former Ambassador of Grenada to the UN, focused her vision around SIDS. She also provided an optimistic vision titled, ‘No Island Left Behind,’ were the global community was able to bring GHG emissions to net zero successfully, reducing warming impacts and sea level rise. Her vision included a healthier, more secure world where, “islands did not drown and people are not climate refugees.”

Astrup also presented his vision titled, ‘Eight Dollars a Barrel.’ His vision, he said, came from the point of view of his son, who would be 87 years old in 2100. In his vision, people changed their way of life and “the world was more resilient than humans deserved.”

Participants then shared their reflections in a dialogue with the book contributors.

Further information


National governments
Negotiating blocs
African Union
Least Developed Countries
Small Island Developing States
Non-state coalitions