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On October 12th, the GEF Small Grants Programme organized a side event at the twelfth global conference of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD COP 12) in Ankara Turkey. The event was chaired by Adriana Dinu, Executive Coordinator of the UNDP GEF, who opened the session, introduced the panelists and presented the UNDP GEF portfolio in land degradation, while also highlighting the three key lessons from SGP's portfolio in land degradation:

“First, the local scale and bottom up approach of SGP initiatives where local communities directly take leadership to address the problems that affect the environment and their livelihoods are important factors leading to greater success and sustainability. Second, the sustainable land management interventions can generate multiple development benefits, advancing livelihoods, securing water and food, building resilience and empowering local communities. Third, the replication potential of sustainable land management projects is tremendous, as when communities see interventions that make sense and add value, the replication starts to take off on its own without even requiring additional outside sources of funding.”

Adriana speaking at SGP event

Adriana Dinu, Executive Coordinator of UNDP GEF GEF 

Following the opening remarks were presentations by Charles Nyandiga, Land Degradation Advisor of the GEF Small Grants Programme who presented an overview of the sustainable land management portfolio of SGP, and Zeleke Tesfaye, National Coordinator of SGP in Ethiopia presented experiences from Ethiopia while Gokmen Argun gave a brief about Turkey SGP programme. The programme also included presentations on the Rehabilitation of the Orhanlı River by the Orhanli Village Society; as well as a presentation on forest management from the Nature Conservation Center, both of which are SGP grantees in Turkey. Discussion during the event centered mostly on the need for increased support to Land degradation activities by the CSO’s, for which SGP was arguably the best vehicle to carry this forwards into the aspired status of land degradation neutrality in community lands.

To close the event, Chizuru Aoki and Jean-Marc Sinnassamy from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Secretariat, presented the land degradation strategy of the GEF of the sixth operational phase.

Jean-Marc Sinnassamy remarked: “When the GEF started to work on LD, its mandate was to focus on land degradation and deforestation: it was a way to work directly with the stakeholders on the ground who are involved in land: farmers, women, farmer organizations, local communities, or NGOS. Land Degradation is a root cause of environmental degradation. It is a main driver of degradation with impacts on soils, biodiversity, waters, climate change, and adaptation. What we want to demonstrate is that one dollar spent for LD with local stakeholders is a source of multiple benefits for the global environment, the local conditions, the livelihoods, etc. This is also why in the GEF SGP, we also talk about landscape approach, climate smart agriculture, or agroecology: to show that one dollar spent on LD has multiple benefits.”

 Marc Sinnassamy GEF Secretariat Photo- GEF 

 Marc Sinnassamy, GEF Secretariat (Photo: GEF)