Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel
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The Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel (STAP) is an independent advisory body established by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) in 1995.
STAP comprises seven expert advisers supported by the Secretariat, which are together responsible for connecting the GEF to the most up to date, authoritative and globally representative science.
Since the panel is an arm of the GEF, it complies with the process and procedures set forth by the GEF council. The panel is responsible for providing the GEF with objective, strategic scientific and technical advice on GEF policies, operational strategies, programs and on projects and programmatic approaches. The panel is also tasked with maintaining a database of institutions, networks and individual scientists who can provide the necessary expertise and advice to the GEF.
The Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel falls under the larger UN family of organizations. It is mandated that the UN Environment Program (UNEP) shall provide STAP with its Secretariat and act as its liaison with the GEF (see image below).
The Executive Director of UNEP, in consultation with UN Development Programme, the World Bank and the GEF Secretariat, and subject to the approval of the GEF Council, appoints seven members of STAP and shall designate a Chairperson and Vice Chairperson. The Chair and Vice Chair are appointed for the duration of the GEF phase. Other members are appointed for a term of two years, renewable at the end of that term. With the view to retain a continuity of experience within the Panel by applying staggered terms of membership, about one third of members are replaced every two years. A familiarization seminar is organized for new STAP members at the beginning of their term and members can be removed during the course of an appointed term by the Executive Director of UNEP only for cause.
The Executive Director of UNEP is assisted by a Search Committee on the reconstruction of STAP chaired by UNEP and comprising the officially designated representatives of the GEF Secretariat, UNDP and World Bank. The Secretary of STAP is the secretary of the Search Committee. The Search Committee consults the Chairs of the scientific subsidiary bodies of GEF related conventions as well as the Third World Academy of Science and International Council of Scientific Unions.
The selection criteria require that the composition of the STAP Panel reflect the following,
- Recognized leadership in specific relevant fields in the GEF focal areas of biodiversity/biosafety, climate change, land degradation, international waters and persistent organic pollutants (POPs), with an ability to bridge scientific, technological, economic, social and policy issues.
- Balance between relevant scientific disciplines including natural and social science.
- Geographical and gender balance.
- Experience in the management of science and with knowledge of issues in the implementation of complex international initiatives.
- An understanding of the organizational and operational settings of the GEF and of the implementing agencies, particularly the context of programme and project development and implementation.
- Knowledge about the scientific process required for the implementation of relevant Conventions in developing countries and familiarity with relevant international assessments.
The Panel consists of seven members and a Chairperson with expertise in the main focal areas of the GEF. Panel members work on a part-time basis for the GEF, typically on loan from their home institutions.
STAP’s mandate is to:
- Provide objective, strategic scientific and technical advice on GEF policies, operational strategies, programs and on projects and programmatic approaches.
- Interact in a complementary manner with other relevant scientific and technical bodies, particularly with the subsidiary bodies of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Convention to Combat Desertification and the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.
- Provide scientific and technical advice on priorities for GEF funding, for focal areas in which the GEF is not operating as a convention’s financial mechanism.
- Provide expert scientific advice to inter-agency task forces and bodies handling other GEF processes, when such advice is requested.
In addition, the GEF currently has operational management of the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) and the Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The GEF also reports to a dedicated LDCF/SCCF Council as it would the GEF Council.
Having received official guidance from the LDCF/SCCF Council in May 2011, STAP has begun formalization of its role in the adaptation programme of the GEF and the operations of LDCF/SCCF Funds, recruiting a seventh additional Adaptation Panel member to ensure that LDCF and SCCF funded projects and programmes reflect the latest scientific thinking on adaptation.
In conjunction with the other Panel Members, the Adaptation Panel member will give the STAP the advisory capacity to:
- Review the scientific rationale and technical validity of all LDCF/SCCF full size projects in the context of climate change impacts, vulnerability and adaptation;
- Provide strategic advice on LDCF/SCCF strategies and policies as required;
- Advise on project or program development on a selective basis at the invitation of Agencies;
- Help design and implement approaches to test the Adaptation Learning Objectives; and work with the Secretariat and Agencies to undertake analysis of at least one of these per year;
- Assist in developing impact and vulnerability profiles for global environmental benefits that can be applied across all three trust funds; and
- Assist in further refining and increasing the precision of the Adaptation Monitoring and Assessment Tool.
Advice to the GEF Council and to project proponents
The STAP Chair reports to every GEF Council meeting, briefing Council members on the Panel’s work and emerging scientific and technical issues.
Advice to Council can include review and/or coauthorship of GEF Policy papers, where there are significant scientific or technical issues, for example:
- Methods for calculating resource allocations (the “STAR”)
- Policies for the use of “set-aside” funds.
Since the fourth replenishment of the GEF Trust Fund, the Panel contributed to the development of focal area strategies for GEF investments, by
- Convening international expert workshops;
- Providing written submissions; and
- Participating in the Technical Advisory Groups that drafted the strategies.
In the GEF Project Cycle, STAP focuses on providing advice on scientific and technical matters to the GEF with a focus on global environment benefits. This advice includes the following:
- Screening all full size project concepts and selected medium-sized project concepts for scientific and technical coherence;
- Advising on program and project development on a selective basis; and
- Identifying priority topics to be addressed by GEF Targeted Research.
STAP’s work program
Through collaborative interaction with the various partners and bodies in the GEF partnership, and scientific authorities, Panel Members of STAP identify priorities for work over their period of appointment. Supported by the STAP Secretariat and under direction of the Chair, their mandate enables them to interact directly with members of the GEF Secretariat, Agencies and Conventions in reaching a consensus on priorities, and to support the work of other Panel Members.
The Panel’s work program is developed through a consultative process and is formally approved by the GEF Council. The Panel meets physically twice a year, with representatives of the GEF partnership; also hosting or engaging in numerous technical workshops. These meetings provide a further opportunity for items to be reviewed, and for new items to be added to the Panel’s work program.
STAP and the global scientific community
The Panel achieves much of its work through collaborations with leading scientists on specific issues around the world. STAP commissions studies by institutions or individuals, convenes expert working groups and holds workshops to identify the latest scientific knowledge and translates it into practical, policy-relevant advice for the GEF.
By working in a complementary manner with the scientific bodies of Conventions, the Panel’s advice is fully integrated into the GEF policy framework and relevant to the guidance provided by the Conventions to the GEF.
The Panel is also mandated to collaborate with the GEF’s independent Evaluation Office on scientific and technical issues.
STAP is increasingly focusing its efforts on developing advisory documents on common or potential interventions supported by GEF funding. These documents serve a range of purposes, including updating the Council on the scientific rationale for GEF investments, helping agencies draft proposals, helping the GEF Secretariat review proposals, and monitor impacts.
Biodiversity & Biosafety
Persistent Organic Pollutant (POP)