The purpose of this report is to identify the results, and initial impact of the land degradation component of those linkage projects which encompass biodiversity, international waters, and climate change with land degradation. The lessons learned from this review lead to recommendations on how land degradation issues should be addressed in focal area reviews, and in subsequent Global Environment Facility (GEF) activities. In general, the detailed study of project documents shows that the land degradation component of projects is not as strong as suggested in previous GEF reports, though this desk analysis may not reveal actual field-level actions, and priorities. It is clear, however, that the number of land degradation projects, and financial allocation to land degradation, has not increased in recent years, with the exception of medium-size projects. An initial analysis of this trend suggests some basic causes, which have limited land degradation linkage activities: project concepts are usually based on focal area activities, rather than linkage activities such as land degradation; 69 percent of projects with land degradation linkages are in the biodiversity focal area, of which 77 percent are located in, or near protected conservation areas, not usually regions of the highest land degradation concern; international waters projects have included land degradation mitigation in some cases, but the specifics have tended to focus on institutional, and water pollution aspects, rather than land degradation, mitigation, and catchment management activities; climate change projects have not in recent years, focused much on land degradation because current climate change operational programs are not addressing land management issues, though there seem to be opportunities to expand this linkage with a new operational program; and finally, the difficulty in estimating incremental costs of mitigation activities, when the activities are usually providing local, as well as global benefits. The review of project documents did provide some clear findings: GEF projects with a strong land degradation component are fewer than previously thought, revealing projects containing a strong land degradation component have been allocated about US$278 million by the GEF, though the portion that comprises the land degradation component is estimated at US$50 million of the GEF portfolio. Moreover, the most effective linkage projects appear to be those where land degradation is built in as an initial component of the problem, and the solution. And, in biodiversity linkage projects, rangeland environments have created the best land degradation/biodiversity synergy. A for international waters projects, land issues - while included - have been generally given less prominence in project implementation, and, projects with a people/land management focus tend to address land degradation issues more directly.
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The Global Environment Facility (GEF) was established on the eve of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, to help tackle our planet’s most pressing environmental problems. Since then, the GEF has provided $14.5 billion in grants and mobilized $75.4 billion in additional financing for almost 4,000 projects. The GEF has become an international partnership of 183 countries, international institutions, civil society organizations, and private sector to address global environmental issues.