Bogotá, July 15 2015 -
The GEF Small Grants Programme (GEF SGP) was launched in Colombia with the participation of Mr. Gabriel Vallejo, Minister of Environment of Colombia, Mr. Arnaud Peral, Resident Representative of UNDP in Colombia, Mr. Alejandro Gamboa, Director of the Presidential Agency for Cooperation and Pilar Barrera Rey, Coordinator of Partnerships for the GEF, as well as a number of NGOs, agencies and government officials.
Minister Vallejo thanked the GEF and UNDP for the launch and emphasized that the type of programs managed by the SGP, designed and managed by local communities in their territories, are key to the success of the peace process in the country. In turn, Mr. Peral mentioned that social and environmental investments of this type are needed to close the inequality gap.
“Today we celebrate the efforts of a number of people who with their determination and enthusiasm worked hard to take this important step,” said Pilar Barrera. “Today is a memorable day, in which community based organizations in Colombia can begin to benefit from small grants to implement projects that will contribute to sustainable development, improved livelihoods and global environmental benefits.”
The GEF SGP will finance projects through grants of up to $15,000 for community-based organizations and up to $35,000 for organizations with previous experience in resource management and implementation of projects.
Arnaud Peral, Resident Representative of UNDP in Colombia, and Pilar Barrera Rey, Coordinator of Partnerships for the GEF in Bogotá, Colombia.
Today with the official launch of the GEF SGP, the call for proposals is open in the region of the lower San Juan, bordering Valle del Cauca and Chocó. This landscape where the program will initially be implemented is considered one of the most rich in biodiversity in the world, with high levels of endemic species and a rich culture. The biogeographic Pacific, along with the Amazon, retains much of the country's forests, and plays a key role in carbon storage and regulation. The main ecosystems are the rainforest on the mainland and coastal marine ecosystem. Mangroves, wetlands, lagoons, estuaries of high ecological value, a rocky coastline, humid tropical forests and tropical dry ecosystems are all found in the region.
Much of the landscape is under common ownership of Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities, and a strong presence of social and ethno-territorial organizations, with whom GEF SGP hopes to work in partnership, together with private institutions and other organizations. Many of the inhabitants of the area have been displaced and otherwise affected by the armed conflict in Colombia, and the area is a priority for the country in terms of the post conflict agenda.
In Colombia, the National Steering Committee who will be receiving, analyzing and selecting the proposed projects is made up of members from a number of sectors, including the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development and the Agency for International Cooperation of Colombia, UNDP Colombia, academia and the private sector, and a majority of civil society representatives including leaders of indigenous communities, Afro-descendants and experts in rural community development and environmental conservation.