GEF in the Pacific Islands : pathways to incorporate monitoring, ecosystem theory, and stewardship

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Journal Article
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Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies
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Metherall, Nicholas
Veitayaki, Joeli
Waqa-Sakiti, Hilda
Beavis, Sara
Qamese, Semi
Holland, Elisabeth Ann

This study sheds light on the evolution of the work of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) in financing biodiversity and climate adaptation and mitigation in the Pacific. This evolution includes how the growing role of ecosystems theory and environmental monitoring has been applied in the Pacific. This has included a shifting focus from separate coastal and highlands programs towards more integrated monitoring of watersheds from ridge-to-reef. This has also correlated with increasing resourcing through GEF Phases one to eight. Through the example of the work of Veitayaki (2004-2021), the concept of Islands and Ocean Stewardship on Gau Island, Fiji is analysed as a prototype for building future uptake of participatory co-design of monitoring and conservation interventions. This participatory approach can help to address some of the concerns relating to the GEF as a contributor to top-down power dynamics commonly linked to the other Bretton Woods Institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (Garcia, 2007; Buira, 2005).

The methods employed for this research include: 1) a critical review of the scientific literature and programmatic reporting of GEF support in the Pacific; 2) a review of the financial reports of the GEF across phases one to eight; and, 3) an interdisciplinary analysis of Islands and Oceans Stewardship using the case study of Gau Island. This analysis includes a GIS mapping and land cover classification, as well as semi-structured interviews and qualitative insights from local stakeholders.

The results of the study highlight the increasing importance of the role of integrated environmental monitoring that considers ecosystem theory and connectivity between oceans and islands. This connectivity is augmented within islands composed of river catchments where surface-groundwater flows connect oceans and islands in close proximity. A clear example of this is demonstrated in Gau Island. The case study of Islands and Oceans Stewardship also identifies a way forward for co-design of monitoring and conservation interventions, with greater opportunities for long-term spatio-temporal coverage in environmental monitoring.

In doing so, the study examines the interdisciplinary confluence of oceans and islands stewardship, ecosystems theory, and hydrological connectivity, and how this has been mirrored by the evolution of GEF biodiversity and climate financing mechanisms. The review also highlights the potential for GEF to optimise climate change and biodiversity outcomes by supporting oceans and islands stewardship initiatives. These recommendations are visualised in a flow chart roadmap which covers the steps for how Islands and Ocean Stewardship can be applied based on the examples of research, conservation, and restoration work of Pacific communities, scholars and practitioners.

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CC BY 4.0