The GEF and the MAVA Foundation collaborate on nature-based infrastructure

We are excited to announce our partnership with the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the MAVA Foundation on systemic approaches and simulation for nature-based infrastructure. This landmark collaboration will promote the use of systems thinking, system dynamics simulation, and project finance modelling, the core pillars of the SAVi methodology, to plan and prepare nature-based infrastructure (NBI) projects.   

One of the major challenges for scaling-up nature-based infrastructure is understanding and valuing how it performs in comparison to “grey” or “built” infrastructure. It is also essential for decision-makers to understand the full scope of costs and benefits, beyond the traditional metrics used in financial valuations, and to value how NBI performs under different climate change scenarios. Indeed, climate change is a material risk to all infrastructure projects and NBIs are often better equipped to protect us from the impacts of climate change.  

Using systems thinking and simulations that incorporate environmental, social, and economic benefits, costs, externalities, and look at climate change risks will increase the predictability and certainty of the performance of nature-based infrastructure, either as a replacement for or complement to traditional “grey” infrastructure. This is essential for shifting investment and finance towards NBI, as well for such infrastructure’s design and implementation.   

This new GEF-MAVA funded project will offer decision-makers the opportunity to receive customized valuations, based on the SAVi methodology, that calculate the dollar value of:  

  • The ecosystem services delivered by a given project. The direct and indirect co-benefits derived by these ecosystem services 
  • The performance of the ecosystem services under different climate change scenarios, with climate data derived from the Copernicus Climate Data Store  
  • The capital and operating costs of grey infrastructure required to provide the same level of services.  

Another major challenge in this space is the level and type of data available, as well as the capacity to use it. This new partnership will therefore involve building a database on the performance of NBI, along with designing and offering a massive open online course and capacity building throughout the valuation of NBI projects for project proponents. This will help improve certainty, predictability, and comparability of NBI and thus support its deployment at scale. This work will draw from IISD’s ongoing collaboration with the Copernicus Climate Change Service, one of the six thematic information services provided by the EU’S Copernicus Earth Observation Programme, to integrate world-class climate data into SAVi assessments. 

The GEF-MAVA project will be executed by IISD, while the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) will be the GEF implementing agency. The GEF support comes from its Special Climate Change Fund.  This work is also a key input into the work of the Global Commission on Adaptation

Further details are available in the IISD press release and GEF press release


Join the stakeholder consultation on this project  

Online stakeholder dialogues and surveys

As we begin this collaboration, we invited interested stakeholders to join us for a dedicated discussion on the project, which will help shape its design and ensure its relevance for those working on NBI. This is part of a series of outreach and information gathering efforts that we will be undertaking in the coming months. 

The first step of this discussion involved online brainstorming sessions. Three virtual meetings were held in October 2020, in order to account for different time zones and languages. For those who missed these sessions or would like a refresher, the English and French slide decks are now available.

Watch the recording of the session in English

Watch the recording of the session in French

The second step of the discussion involves a survey for stakeholder feedback. All input is welcome and we encourage survey participants to view the above-mentioned slide decks for reference. The survey will only take a few minutes of your time and will be invaluable for the design of the project.