Since its inception, the GEF has provided support to its partner countries to improve the sustainability of their forestry resources. Although SFM is not a focal area, forest-based interventions have been supported through GEF focal area interventions, multifocal projects, integrated approach pilots (IAPs), and, more recently, designed through the impact programs. While projects prior to GEF-5 addressed forest issues through several focal area objectives, the GEF initiated a dedicated SFM program in GEF 5. SFM interventions from GEF-5 onwards were funded through an additional incentive, with SFM specific objectives, even though SFM is not a separate focal area per se. With a total investment of approximately $2.8 billion in grants and an additional $14 billion in co-financing, SFM interventions have evolved over the GEF phases, with the objective of increasing environmental benefits and delivering socio-economic co-benefits. The environmental and socioeconomic co-benefits that may accrue from these SFM related investments have not been assessed so far.
In this study, the IEO expanded on the satellite-based approach applied in the value for money analysis of GEF land degradation projects (IEO, 2016) to examine the environmental effectiveness, efficiency and impact of GEF interventions in SFM. Data used included the geographic locations within which GEF SFM projects are located, and measurements on environmental outcomes based on indicators suggested by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD 2015) and Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD 2016). Satellite-based measurements of nighttime lights intensity over time, which has been frequently used as a proxy for socioeconomic outcomes, was used in this study. A quasi-experimental approach was applied to analyze the effectiveness of GEF projects and programs along both environmental and socio-economic dimensions, and valuations were estimated based on attributable carbon sequestered by GEF projects.