GRID-Arendal: Strategic Plan 2018-2021

Institutions and traditional ideas of governance and top-down decision making are being challenged by new arrangements, technologies and players. Globalization has brought an increased understanding that we live in a connected world.

Strategic Plan 2018–2021 GRID-Arendal

We live in a rapidly changing world. Institutions and traditional ideas of governance and top-down decision making are being challenged by new arrangements, technologies and players. Globalization has brought an increased understanding that we live in a connected world. We recognize that many of the new challenges we face require collective action. Although countries are important contributors, ideas and solutions are increasingly coming from partnerships between civil society, business, academia and other actors. Forming partnerships based on the recognition of mutual interest and common cause is a hallmark of GRID-Arendal’s approach.

GRID-Arendal wants a healthy planet with healthy people. Our work is motivated by the fact that human beings are stretching the limits of the planet’s finite resources. The consequences of overconsumption and population growth confront us daily. Climate change, biodiversity loss, resource depletion and other environmental problems threaten human security at a global scale. The burden of rapid environmental change often falls on the most vulnerable people in poorer nations who are struggling to lift themselves out of poverty. Marginalization, environmental degradation and conflict often go hand in hand and threaten fundamental human rights and the ability of countries to meet the Sustainable Development Goals agreed to by the United Nations in 2015. This reality guides everything we do and is the source of our determination to help make the world a better place.

Mission Our mission is to support environmentally sustainable development through the environmental work of the UN and other partners by communicating information that strengthens environmental management capacity and motivates decision-makers to act. Vision Our vision is for a society that understands, values and protects the environment on which it depends. Values GRID-Arendal embraces the core values of the United Nations: integrity, professionalism and respect for diversity.

Our role is to analyse and translate complex, scientific information into understandable, high quality environmental products that are visually appealing to motivate sound decision making and policies. By bridging the gap between science and policy, we will continue to work as a knowledge broker and facilitator, presenting environmental data in the most suitable communication formats to policy- and decision-makers. One of GRID-Arendal’s major strengths, recognised by our clients, is in using a combination of sound scientific methods together with a diplomatic approach for bringing stakeholders together in order to establish consensus on a topic. GRID-Arendal will respond to emerging issues and work globally with a special focus on Africa, Asia and the Arctic. Strategic directions and goals

Our work will support the environmental goals of the United Nations and is aligned with UN Environment’s programme of work. Strategic directions for GRID-Arendal in 2018-21 will also be guided by Norwegian government priorities. GRID-Arendal’s work will encompass our ocean, freshwater, mountain and polar biomes, as well as tackle key challenges such as climate change, nature’s benefits to people, environmental crime and security, sustainable livelihoods, pollution, blue-green economy, gender and environmental justice. Our efforts in this period will include communicating information through our website, reports, graphics, blogs, articles and film; providing assessment of policies; capacity building through training and lectures; and activities

that are more analytical in nature such as workshops, participatory mapping and the development of new assessment methods. We will emphasize innovation and new communication technologies and methods in our work. We will partner with individuals and organisations whose expertise complements our own. We will prioritise working with local communities and regional authorities to motivate decision-makers to action and to maximise the impact of our work.

Our work plans and projects will to follow the “results based management” protocols used by the Norwegian government.

GRID-Arendal’s activities and the Sustainable Development Goals

GRID-Arendal’s activities will be anchored by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. While we will refer to the SDGs where relevant, we will focus on the environmental goals of clean water and sanitation (SDG-6), responsible consumption and production (SDG-12), climate action (SDG-13), life below water (SDG-14), life on land (SDG-15) and peace, justice and strong institutions (SDG-16). Cross-cutting SDGs of building partnerships for the goals (SDG-17), decent work and economic growth (SDG-8), and gender equality (SGD-5) are also targeted by GRID-Arendal.

GRID-Arendal’s 2018–2021 strategic plan was developed by the organization’s staff and focuses on the following concrete goals:

will help people to better understand the relationships between nature, its benefits to people and the quality of people’s lives.

Providing knowledge for action

Facilitating responsible use of resources

Goal 1: Environmental knowledge leads to actions to improve the health of natural systems and society.

Goal 2: Sharing sustainable solutions for natural resource management.

Knowledge of the environment, planetary limits and nature’s benefits to people are crucial to ensuring our planet is sustainable and equitable. Since its establishment in 1989, GRID-Arendal has consistently contributed to UN Environment’s mission of “keeping the environment under review.” The information we produce is used to assess environmental conditions and trends, including tracking progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Although assessing and monitoring environmental conditions is important, they are only the first steps towards action. Action involves putting policies and legal regimes in place that will ensure that the health of natural systems and society improves over time.

All human impacts on the environment can be linked directly or indirectly to the way that natural resources (defined in the broadest sense) are managed and consumed. The human footprint is global in scope and universal across ecosystems. Humans now consume one third of all primary productivity and around one quarter of all freshwater on earth. In order to achieve the environmental SDGs – especially responsible consumption and production, SDG-12 – resource exploitation through mining, agriculture, forestry and fishing must be managed sustainably and for the benefit of all. The lack of resources is not always the problem; rather, we need to better manage the resources we already have. Sharing and communicating solutions are key to progress because solutions that work in one place can often work in another location.

To achieve this goal, we will engage stakeholders and generate solutions to problems in participatory ways. We

To achieve this goal, GRID-Arendal will work with communities – incorporating indigenous and other knowledge systems – to produce better resource management solutions that combine environmental sustainability with social equity, inclusiveness and human well-being. We will contribute to management frameworks that embrace gender equality, a rights-based approach, empowering stakeholders and aiming to leave no-one behind, management frameworks that are far more likely to succeed in the long run.

To achieve this goal our projects systematically incorporate results based management, risk assessment, monitoring and evaluation to ensure impacts are quantified, and that outputs are relevant to target audiences. In order to achieve greater visibility GRID-Arendal will contribute to national and international forums and engage in public debates.

Building the GRID-Arendal work environment

Goal 4 – GRID-Arendal is seen as a desirable workplace

Expanding GRID-Arendal’s impact

Our staff come from many disciplines, cultures and nationalities. The global composition of our staff, combined with its diverse knowledge and professionalism, are of great value to GRID-Arendal. Our aim is to become even more successful as a desirable workplace with staff of all age groups who feel valued and fulfilled in the work they do and satisfied with their working environment. To achieve this goal GRID-Arendal will continue to develop projects that make best use of our staff´s knowledge and capabilities. GRID-Arendal will continue to provide opportunities for staff development. Recruitment by GRID- Arendal will continue to strive for diversity. The 1987 Brundtland Report defined sustainable development as “development which meets the needs of current generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” This quotation is as relevant today as when GRID- Arendal was founded as a response to the Brundtland Commission. The commission’s report pointed to the need for joint action to tackle our collective problems in a just and equitable manner. More than a quarter of a century later, in times where social media seem to increasingly make (or fake) “news”, GRID-Arendal still works tirelessly towards this goal by providing sound scientific environmental knowledge for change to influence policy and to facilitate the implementation and the achievements of the Paris Climate Change Agreement, United Nations Environmental Assembly resolutions and the Sustainable Development Goals. The Sustainable Development Goals remind us that the key to our survival is to realize that there can be no development and little security in a world where the three pillars of sustainable development – society, environment and economy – are not considered together. We at GRID-Arendal passionately believe that we can keep pushing the decision-makers and ourselves to make that difference. And this is not just a goal for 2020 or 2030 – it is something we aim for now and every day!

Goal 3 – GRID-Arendal is seen as a valued partner

GRID-Arendal will continue to be a visible, valued and financially stable organisation, able to quickly respond to emerging issues and develop new, or strengthen existing, partnerships. GRID-Arendal recognizes that all sectors of society can contribute solutions to help solve environmental problems. The broad character and scope of projects we undertake allows us to network and operate across multiple disciplines while working with a diverse range of partners and stakeholders.

Historical background

The founders of GRID-Arendal participated in the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil over a quarter century ago. While other countries tabled heavy reports on their

environmental status, GRID-Arendal presented Norway as the world’s first country to produce a digital state of the environmental report – on four floppy disks! Technology has advanced so quickly since 1992 that most people born since then do not even know what a floppy disk is. However, it is a

willingness to think out-of-the-box and use state-of- the-art communications, combined with a passionate commitment to the environment, that has shaped GRID- Arendal and created its successes. Our planet might have been a better home to today’s young people and future generations if the recommendations in the Brundtland Commission’s report – that greatly influenced the Rio meeting – had been followed. Nevertheless, the Earth Summit resulted in some key documents (e.g. Agenda 21) and in the opening for signature of some important and legally binding agreements (the Convention on Biodiversity and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change).

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