International Waters learning Exchange & Resource Network

7.5 - GEF/UNDP Trans Boundary Legal Frameworks Best Practices Project

Highlighted Practices for GEF PMs

The Legal Frameworks Best Practices project developed the following key practices that other GEF PMs might replicate:

  • This project offers an approach for PMs to engage law firms or other professional businesses such as engineers or environmental consultants on a pro bono basis.


The input of a team of lawyers from White and Case LLP, which was provided on a pro bono basis to this Portfolio Learning project, was an incredibly rich source of information and analysis and constituted a major legal expert opinion deliverable for the UNDP-GEF Trans Boundary Legal Frameworks Best Practices Project (  For more information, please visit


An estimate of the value-in-kind (VIK) time provided by White and Case LLP is around $1M in billable hours from the legal team tasked with this job.


This P3 provided an interesting, progressive and important task for a company (in this case a law firm) to be able to perform, while at the same time contributing a superb analysis of a key research deliverable of the Trans Boundary Legal Frameworks Best Practices Project of IW:LEARN at no cost to the project.  From the perspective of White and Case LLP, this pro bono effort satisfied the appetite of the legal team (which was made of primarily made up of associate level lawyers under the direction of senior counsel of the firm) to contribute their knowledge, skills and time to an important initiative.  The potential of working on meaningful pro-bono work is a major selling point to make law firms (as well as other professional businesses) more attractive to prospective employees.


This VIK contribution from White and Case LLP was a win-win arrangement for both the firm and the IW:LEARN project.  Without the work of White and Case LLP, this research initiative that would otherwise have been forced to rely on a more academic, institution-based research team.  Professors and researchers from these academic institutions typically do not enjoy the financial resources, back up staff practical experience and global reach of a major law firm like White and Case LLP that were needed to produce in a short period of time the kind of high quality report that the law firm delivered to the IW:LEARN project.  This is an excellent  example of the kind of optimal fit that can be put together between expert service providers contributing on a pro bono basis and the GEF IW portfolio (through IW:LEARN).

Case Study Questions and Answers

How will the partnership improve impact?

In the Trans Boundary Legal Frameworks Best Practices Project, White and Case LLP provided pro bono work that would otherwise have been conducted by academic, institution-based research teams.  This partnership was dynamic and the law firm produced a high quality report in a shorter time period than a research institution would.

Who is the outcome aimed at – the existing users of the ministries or a wider public? Over what period is the outcome to be provided – short, medium, or long-term – or is it just a ‘one-off’?

The legal framework provided by White and Case LLP was a short-term partnership with a long-term outcome of improved transboundary legal practices and was primarily intended to reach key ministries.

Is there a sooner return-on-investment?

While some aspects of environmental investments are long-term, funding partners receive publicity at the start of a project and build credibility for future engagement with ministry officials.