Friday, 18 March 2016

British Science Week: Science in the Archives Friday

Today's blog will be the last in our British Science Week series. Our theme today is environmental science, and we will be exploring this through the lens of the Global Environment Facility. And just so you know, this is a sneak preview at a forthcoming collection which we are currently cataloguing.

Established in October 1991, the Global Environment Facility (or GEF) is an international financial instrument situated within the World Bank. It was conceived of as a way to assist in the protection of the global environment and to promote sustainable development internationally. The GEF was to fulfil its objectives by providing grants and concessional funding to regional projects with potential to benefit the global environment. Grants and funding were to be given to cover the incremental or additional costs associated with transforming a project from its national focus to a global one.

Initially, there were three implementing partners: United Nations Development Programme; United Nations Environment Program; the World Bank. Now, many partners contribute to the replenishment of the GEF. Revision and replenishment of funds takes place periodically and is determined at Participants' Assemblies. To date there have been 6 iterations of the organisation starting with it's Pilot Phase of $1 billion.

Timeline showing the development of the GEF

The main focus of the GEF relates to the areas of biodiversity, climate change, chemicals & waste, land degradation, international waters, and sustainable management of forests. The organisation's work also touches on food security, sustainable cities, commodities, public-private partnerships, capacity development, gender main-streaming, small island developing states, and indigenous peoples. As such, the GEF is intended to have global societal benefits through its contribution towards the development and promotion of environmental science.

Book produced as a result of research at Hull

So you might be wondering why we are talking about a global body here in Hull. Well, during the 1990s a major research project was undertaken within the Geography department of the University of Hull. Involving researcher Zoe Young, the project aimed to critically analyse the GEF, its structure, successes and failings. The research led to the publication of various reports and papers, a book titled ‘New World Order? The World Bank and the Politics of the Global Environment Facility’, and a television documentary titled ‘Suits and Savages’.

The records of this research project were deposited at the Hull History Centre in 2010 and will soon be available to researchers. The collection contains 100s of GEF reports, documents and publications which give a fascinating insight into the organisation’s work and policies, as well as the projects it funded.

Claire Weatherall, Assistant Archivist

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