Main Issue

Biodiverse production landscapes and seascapes that lie outside the protected area estate provide people with goods and services like food, pollination services, water, wood, energy and minerals. The use of natural resources in these landscapes and seascapes must be done sustainably in order to maintain biodiversity and the ecosystem goods and services it provides to society. Otherwise, resource users may unintentionally degrade the very resource they depend upon for their livelihoods. While it is widely agreed that protected areas are the conservation community’s most successful management response to conserve and sustainably use biodiversity, thus far they can never be the entire solution to the biodiversity crisis. Much more needs to be done to conserve and sustainably use the vast majority of biodiversity that is located in production landscapes and seascapes outside of the global protected area estate.

What We Do

The GEF has for the past decade worked to embed biodiversity conservation and sustainability objectives in the management of wider production landscapes and seascapes through support to an array of policies, strategies and practices that engage key public and private sector actors in order to conserve and sustainably use biodiversity. This process, referred to as “biodiversity mainstreaming”, has focused primarily on the following suite of activities: 

  • Developing policy and regulatory frameworks that remove perverse subsidies and provide incentives for biodiversity-friendly land and resource use that remains productive but that does not degrade biodiversity
  • Spatial and land-use planning to ensure that land and resource use is appropriately situated to maximize production without undermining or degrading biodiversity
  • Improving and changing production practices to be more biodiversity friendly with a focus on sectors that have significant biodiversity impacts (agriculture, forestry, fisheries, tourism, extractives)
  • Piloting an array of financial mechanisms (certification, payment for environmental services, access and benefit sharing agreements, etc.) to provide financial incentives to actors to change current practices that may be degrading biodiversity.

Results

The GEF has invested more than US$1.6 billion in 327 “biodiversity mainstreaming” projects in 135 countries, which generated another US$5.3 billion in financial support from other partners. GEF funds have provided biodiversity protection and planning for more than 350 million hectares of productive landscapes and seascapes.

For example, the Grasslands Program in South Africa was funded by the GEF to mainstream biodiversity into the Grassland Biome with the intention of balancing biodiversity conservation and development imperatives in a production landscape focusing on agriculture, forestry and mining.  The Programme’s mainstreaming interventions directly improved the condition of approximately 1.3 million ha. These included policy advice on agricultural laws and policies, piloting market-based mechanisms for environmentally friendly red-meat production, inclusion of biodiversity considerations into the national standard for Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certifications, the development of Mining and Biodiversity Guidelines and the piloting of Wetland Offset Guidelines.

Looking Ahead

In GEF-7, the GEF will continue to focus primarily on supporting the following suite of activities to advance biodiversity mainstreaming:

  • Spatial and land-use planning to ensure that land and resource use is appropriately situated to maximize production without undermining or degrading biodiversity. A review of GEF experience in supporting biodiversity mainstreaming identified investments in spatial and land use planning to be a critical first step that sets the stage for future more comprehensive mainstreaming investments in production landscapes and seascapes. Linking the objective of sustaining protected areas and their conservation objectives with targeted investments in spatial and land use planning in the surrounding geographies will continue to be a key element of GEF’s biodiversity mainstreaming strategy given the successes with this approach at various scales in a variety of implementation environments in the GEF portfolio.
  • Improving and changing production practices to be more biodiversity-positive, with a focus on sectors that have significant biodiversity impacts (agriculture, forestry, fisheries, tourism, extractive industries (gas, oil, and mining) and infrastructure development) through technical capacity building and implementation of financial mechanisms (certification, payment for environmental services, biodiversity offsets etc.) that incentivize actors to change current practices that may be degrading biodiversity.
  • Developing policy and regulatory frameworks that remove perverse subsidies and provide incentives for biodiversity-positive land and resource use that remains productive but that does not degrade biodiversity.

 

Successful biodiversity mainstreaming initiatives in the GEF portfolio have often been long-term efforts requiring multiple and complementary projects that span numerous GEF funding phases. In order for biodiversity mainstreaming to generate impacts at the scale necessary to achieve the related Aichi Biodiversity Targets, a series of investments by GEF that are strategically nested within a larger-scale national planning and management framework is often required. Project proponents will be encouraged to take advantage of opportunities provided through the impact programs to mainstream biodiversity in the agriculture and forestry sectors. Countries may also submit proposals in the target sectors of forestry, fisheries, tourism, infrastructure, as well as extractives (gas, oil, and mining), that are aligned with the suite of activities identified above (spatial and land-use planning, improving and changing production practices, policy and regulatory frameworks, and financial mechanisms).

Other entry points in GEF-7 for countries to mainstream biodiversity across sectors and within production landscapes and seascapes include:

  • Global Wildlife Program;
  • Natural Capital Assessment and Accounting;
  • Sustainable Use of Plant and Animal Genetic Resources;
  • Inclusive Conservation;
  • Food Systems, Land Use & Restoration Impact Program;
  • Sustainable Cities Impact Program;
  • Sustainable Forest Management Impact Program; and
  • International Waters Focal Area/Sustainable Fisheries.