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Established in 1992, the year of the Rio Earth Summit, the GEF Small Grants Programme embodies the very essence of sustainable development by "thinking globally acting locally". By providing financial and technical support to projects that conserve and restore the environment while enhancing people's well-being and livelihoods, SGP demonstrates that community action can maintain the fine balance between human needs and environmental imperatives.

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At the first Conference of Parties of the Minamata Convention on Mercury, the GEF Small Grants Programme, implemented by UNDP, launched a “Local to Global Coalitions on Chemicals, Waste and Mercury Management.” The launching event included a ceremony and technical session. 

The ceremony included remarks from Xiaofang Zhou, Director of Montreal Protocol Unit at the United Nations Development Programme;  Chizuru Aoki, Lead Environmental Specialist at the GEF Secretariat; and Rolph Payet, Executive Secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Convention. In their speeches, Ms. Aoki highlighted the important complimentary role of SGP and its focus at the community level within the GEF portfolio. Mr. Payet remarks stated the key  role of SGP in implementing concrete solutions for chemicals and mercury issues following the guidance of the Conventions. All speakers welcomed the new initiative. 

    Minamata COP 2 web      Opening panel Minamata COP  SGP side event

To lead this local to global coalition, SGP is working with the International Persistent Organic Pollutants Network (IPEN) and the Zero Mercury Working Group (ZMWG) of European Environment Bureau.The objectives of the coalitions include:

• Developing the capacity of local communities and civil society organizations to enhance their roles in the management of chemicals, waste and mercury

• Starting a global movement to promote global awareness on chemicals, waste and mercury through campaigning, advocacy and policy influence 

• Sharing experiences and lessons learned and ensuring horizontal and vertical knowledge exchanges at the local, national and global levels.

IPEN will convene NGOs working on chemicals and waste in connection with Sustainable Development Goals. The Zero Mercury Working Group will develop the capacity of civil society organizations in mercury management.

Following the official launch a technical panel session was convened to share experiences and lessons learned. The panel was moderated by Yoko Watanabe, Global Manager of the GEF Small Grants Programme. Panelists included Sulan Chen, Programme Advisor of SGP; George Ortsin, National Coordinator of SGP in Ghana;  Bjorn Beeler, International Coordinator of IPEN; and Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, International Coordinator of ZMWG. 

                             Minamata 2017web   

One of the innovative projects presented at the launch is a community-based project that supports the strategic management of mercury in artisanal and small scale gold mining communities in Ghana. With SGP support, artisanal miners and local community members were trained in best practices and learned the necessary skills to ensure safe and limited handling of mercury.