2011-2020 has been declared by the UN General Assembly as the ‘International Decade for Biodiversity’. Biodiversity provides us with food, fuel, medicine, shelter and a cultural and spiritual connection to nature. In 2005, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment assessed the consequences of ecosystem change for human well-being delivering a state-of-the-art appraisal of the trends in the world’s ecosystems, the services they provide, as well as the scientific basis for action to conserve and use them sustainably.
Land degradation focal area of the GEF SGP is informed by the previous activities of the millennium ecosystems assessments and specifically targets directly the realization of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). Indirectly, this focal area also helps in the realization of the Non legal binding instrument of the convention on all forests types of the United Nations forum on forests (UNFF). Desertification and deforestation remains the main priority of the GEF SGP in this focal area and it aims at improving agro-ecosystems and forest landscapes where deterioration of ecosystems services and goods undermines the livelihoods of many people. A majority of these people are the very poor. This problem manifests itself prominently in the dryland ecosystems where climate change impacts further exacerbates the predicaments of the rural poor.
Climate Change Mitigation
The effects of climate change undermine development efforts and most severely impact the poor, who are relying on natural resources for their livelihoods. In order to actively cope with these challenges, the GEF SGP helps countries to mitigate the negative effects of the Climate Change and to contribute to the overall objectives of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Community Based Adaptation
The Community Based Adaptation (CBA) is an important component of the larger picture of management and avoidance of Climate Change impacts and pressures by local people. It provides information and concrete examples on potential impacts of climate change and mitigative measures which are location specific and community managed. CBA also provides information needs which can be shared and replicated in an appropriate format and manner acceptable by communities. The need for information on adaptation by incorporating and building upon existing coping strategies of communities can be articulated and demonstrated through CBA projects.
Sustainable Forest Management
The focal area will endeavor to pursue SFM in the context of increasing forest and non timber forest resources, climate change mitigation within productive landscapes where communities reside, while pursuing multiple benefits to all actors and ensuring sustainable livelihoods. Efforts will be made to link the activities with other SGP GEF focal areas to benefit from the synergies from the existing biodiversity and climate change focal areas. Specifically, sustainable land use, land use change, and forestry management interventions will be adopted at the community level for forest and non‐forest land‐use types to ensure connectivity between ecosystems and restorative activities. These efforts will aim at up‐scaling and replicating at local levels, good practices and lessons that will be generated through the activities that reduces pressures on forest resources and provides sustainable flows of forest ecosystems.
The GEF International Waters (IW) focal area addresses sustainable development challenges faced by countries sharing transboundary surface, groundwater, and marine systems. 70 percent of the World is covered by Ocean, and 60 percent of the land lies in transboundary surface and groundwater basins. Most water systems are connected and transboundary, hence are under the coverage of GEF IW mandate. These water systems know no national boundaries and generate ecosystem services and products for human beings, generally serving as transbdounary lifelines. These waterbodies have suffered a trend of environmental degradation, in terms of water quality, ecosystem sustainability and environmental services and goods. The world is calling for effective actions to reverse this trend.
The GEF-5 strategy for chemicals sets to consolidate the persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and ozone layer depletion focal areas, as well as to broaden the scope of GEF’s engagement with the sound management of chemicals and to initiate work on mercury. The goal of the GEF’s chemicals focal area is:
to promote the sound management of chemicals throughout their life-cycle in ways that lead to the minimization of significant adverse effects on human health and the global environment.