SPAN, one of the best GEF projects
RIO DE JANEIRO – Namibia’s Strengthening the Protected Area Network (SPAN) project is among the 20 best initiatives funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) over the last 20 years.
A book titled ‘From Rio to Rio – A 20-year Journey to Green the World’s Economies’ was launched during a side-event at the Rio+20 Summit, which was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil last week.
The publication illustrates examples of 20 initiatives showing a portfolio consisting of a total of 2 800 projects and nearly 14 000 small grants that were implemented in 168 developing countries.
The SPAN project was designed to address three broad intervention areas: Strengthening systemic capacity that creates an enabling legal or policy environment and financial mechanisms for protected areas’ management; strengthening institutional capacity; and demonstrating new ways of protected area management.
Four field demonstration sites – the Bwabwata-Mudumu-Mamili Complex, the Skeleton Coast Link, Ai-Ais in southern Namibia and the Sperrgebiet in south-western Namibia – were selected, and the project was implemented from 2005 until 2011, with further funding in the pipeline.
The project cost was estimated at around N$347 million.
Discussing the book at the event, GEF Chief Executive Officer and chairperson, Monique Barbut, expressed the hope that the publication will make the GEF story better known to both insiders working on environmental issues, and to those unfamiliar with this unprecedented global experiment.
“Experience has shown that while some progress can be made via thematically based international accounts, the multi-faceted nature of threats to our planet’s life support systems require more concerted and integrated efforts,” she said.
Barbut explained that the lessons from the investments made by the GEF described in the publication revealed how intertwined the environmental, economic and social agendas are when put to work in the real world.
In her view, Rio+20 and its aftermath should take this premise as a central tenet of the international development agenda.
The chapters of the book focus on individual projects or programmes from the Philippines, Gabon, Congo, Bangladesh, China, Poland, Bulgaria, Moldova, Nepal, South Africa, Brazil, Malaysia, Benguela Current (South Africa, Namibia and Angola), Argentina, Niger as well as Mexico.
The GEF is the only multilateral funding mechanism to date with independent scientific advice that is provided to all projects which are submitted for funding.
The Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel (STAP), administratively supported by the United Nations’ Environment Programme (UNEP), consists of seven internationally recognised experts in all of the areas that the GEF invests in, and who ensure that the projects draw on solid scientific precepts.
Rio+20, the United Nations’ Conference on Sustainable Development, started on Tuesday last week and ended on Friday. –Nampa