Biodiv Sci ›› 2021, Vol. 29 ›› Issue (2): 212-219.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2020128

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The achievements and experiences of UNDP-GEF biodiversity projects in China

Chaode Ma*(), Xinhua Zhao, Cheng Zheng, Fei Leng   

  1. United Nations Development Programme China Office, Beijing 100600
  • Received:2020-03-31 Accepted:2020-06-19 Online:2021-02-20 Published:2020-07-30
  • Contact: Chaode Ma


Background: The Global Environment Facility (GEF), an operating entity of the financial mechanism of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), has experienced seven replenishment phases globally. Some common challenges encountered during the implementation include: sustainability of outcomes, complex programme design and management, and limited engagement with the private sector. In China, stability of project staff is, among all, the largest obstacle.
Actions: As a GEF International Implementing Agency (IA), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) collaborated with the Chinese government at various levels in optimizing the project design and implementation. Comprehensive actions have been taken against challenges and several goals have been obtained in biodiversity conservation. UNDP-GEF projects undertook several adaptive methods and risk management actions to meet those challenges and overcome obstacles. The highlights in the project implementation include: (1) Biodiversity mainstreaming. During the design and implementation of GEF biodiversity projects, great attention has been paid to mainstream biodiversity into all levels of the Chinese governments. (2) Successful cases of market transformation. The project played a bridging role, as enterprises agreed to pay attention to the changes of land use in the upstream, realizing a win-win situation of basin protection, economic and social development. (3) Optimization of the project design. Under China context, several umbrella programmes with their child projects in parallel under a national framework have been designed through programmatic approaches. Meanwhile, setting SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound) objectives shaped up project effectiveness for individual projects. (4) Comprehensive stakeholder consultation. Consultation with stakeholders during full project cycles from designing to implementation is also a necessity. Stakeholders actively participated in projects implementation and the income of local residents increased thanks to projects. Projects proactively coordinated multiple stakeholders including enterprises and non-profit organizations, and adopted participatory management or community co-management to benefit local people and ultimately reduced the threats to biodiversity. Other actions include: (5) enabling financial sustainability; (6) enhancement of capacity and management effectiveness; (7) gender mainstreaming.
Achievements: With jointly efforts by Chinese governments, UNDP and multi-stakeholders, the following achievements have been made: (1) 5-10 times of co-financing from the Chinese government for biodiversity-related work has been leveraged; (2) biodiversity mainstreamed into governments agenda; (3) the newly protected areas increased; (4) management effectiveness of most nature reserves and protected areas enhanced; and (5) the local residents of the project sites benefitted from the projects.
Conclusion: This paper combines the practices of the GEF biodiversity projects jointly implemented by UNDP, along with relevant ministries, provinces and other governmental institutes in China, and narrates the strategies and achievements serving as successful examples and best practices contributing to the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020. Hence, this paper provides references for designs and implementations of relevant international projects. These references can be used for the formulation and implementation of related projects globally in the future and contribute to the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, to achieve the vision of “living in harmony with nature by 2050”.

Key words: Global Environment Facility, United Nations Development Programme, biodiversity, achievements, project management