19 July 2012

Rio20 1Rio+20 PresentationThe original Rio Summit in 1992 marked the establishment of the GEF Small Grants Programme (SGP). Implemented by UNDP and funded by the Global Environment Facility, the programme has supported more than 14,500 community and CSO projects along the lines of environment, sustainable livelihoods and local empowerment in the last two decades. Hence, GEF SGP celebrated this milestone, its 20th anniversary, by actively supporting and participating in key civil society events at Rio+20. Among these events, was the Community Aldeia, a dialogue space that provided venue for the sharing of local sustainable development solutions for the people and the environment, and to promote resilient communities. This space brought together the winners of the Equator Prize 2012, civil society leaders, and the Equator Initiative Partnership in a ten-day dialogue on the margins of Rio+20.

At the Panel on "Climate Change: Community Responses", moderated by Mr. Delfin Ganapin, the GEF SGP Global Manager, two GEF SGP grantee-partners that are also Equator Prize winners, The Association Amsing from Morocco and the Namdrik Atoll Local Resources Committee from the Marshall Islands as well as two other projects from Ethiopia and Vietnam shared their experiences. In facing climate related impacts from drought and flash floods to storm surges and coastal erosion, these communities have carried out a variety of activities: bunds to trap water, terracing, resilient farming, drip irrigation, seed storage, tree nurseries, reforestation, mangrove forest reserves, disaster risk reduction planning, local land use planning, and valley-wide community-based early warning systems complemented with alternative livelihoods that included beekeeping, piggeries, and pearl farming. All involved intensive community organization that engaged women, youth and children and used art, songs, drama and community museum.

In presenting the session's conclusion, Mr. Ganapin observed that the main reasons for the success of these award winning projects is the highly relevant and adaptive nature of these activities, based on the active participation of all members of the community including women, youth and children and the use of local and indigenous knowledge and technologies. The community-based nature of these projects also ensures sustainability.

Rio20-8Rio +20 PresentationGEF SGP lessons learned were also shared at the event "Bringing Climate Finance to Grassroots Women – What does it take?", which was organized by Climate Wise Women and featured participant representatives of the Heinrich Böll Foundation North America, AWID Women's Right from México, and the Center for Socio-Environmental Support (CASA) from Brazil.

Mr. Ganapin stressed the need for a proactive approach in supporting gender equality and women's empowerment, where guidelines have to be developed and capacity building for stakeholders, partners as well as staff plays a vital role. While GEF SGP has a strong environmental focus, with climate change mitigation and adaptation among the focal areas, he explained that these objectives are best achieved through an integrated process that also promotes sustainable livelihoods, poverty alleviation, and empowerment, as they are all cornerstones of sustainability and are priority concerns of grassroots women. Furthermore, access to funds by marginalized and vulnerable sectors must allow for risks, innovation, experimentation, as well as recognize the value of local and traditional knowledge.

Rio20 3Rio+20 PresentationGEF SGP also supported and was represented in the panel on "Indigenous Peoples' and Community Conserved Territories and Areas (ICCAs) — a force against destructive development and for the buen vivir" organized by the global ICCA Consortium. This side event reviewed the progress in the formation of national coalitions of traditional communities and indigenous peoples finding a consensus that they are "able and willing to take responsibility to govern and manage their ancestral territories and resources". Notable milestones discussed included the Manila Declaration (The Philippines, March 2012) and the Anja Declaration (Madagascar, May 2012), which established nationwide and region wide networks of indigenous peoples committed to ICCA management. The panel provided insights into some well advanced local, national and international initiatives which currently recognize and support ICCAs across the globe with proven benefits for the conservation of nature, as well as buen vivir in the context of sustainable human development.

GEF SGP further supported and actively participated in the Rio+20 event "The Power of Local Action: Honoring Communities on the Frontlines of Sustainable Development Celebrating 10 Years of the Equator Initiative and 20 Years of the GEF Small Grants Programme", June 20th. At this event, the GEF SGP's 20th anniversary publication "20 Years: Community Action for the Global Environment" was distributed among participants. The Equator Prize is awarded biannually to recognize and advance local sustainable development solutions for people, nature and resilient communities.

Equator Prize 2012 to the Pacari NetworkEquator Prize 2012 to the Pacari NetworkSeveral GEF SGP grantee-partners were among the 25 community-based and non-governmental organizations receiving recognition based on independent vetting and validation by third party judges. One of these was the Pacari Network (see the photo on the right), which brings together 47 traditional pharmacies and community-based organizations to cultivate medicinal plants, preserve traditional ecological knowledge and medicinal traditions, and protect biodiversity in the Cerrado (savannah) biome. Other GEF SGP grantee-partner winners included the Try Oyster Women Association (Gambia), the Namdrik Atoll Local Resources Committee (Marshall Islands), the Association Amsing (Morocco), the Fishers' Association of the Rural Community of Mangagoulack (Senegal), and the Village Development Committee of Ando Kpomey (Togo). A special memorial prize on women's empowerment given by UNDP Administrator Helen Clark to Swazi Indigenous Products of Swaziland was awarded in honor of former GEF SGP and CBD Secretariat staff member, the late Marie Aminata Khan.

GEF SGP participated in several other events at Rio+20 including the UNESCO/ICSU Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for Sustainable Development on
"Indigenous knowledge and science: from recognition to knowledge co-production", which launched a GEF SGP co-sponsored report titled 'Weathering Uncertainty' as a contribution to the 5th Assessment Report (AR5) of the IPCC, and "Education for Sustainable Development as a Driver of Change towards a Green Economy", organized by the Center for Environment Education (CEE) India, among others. Additionally, SGP Brazil supported the organization, installation, and hosting of the Black Box of the Cerrado at the People's Summit, which brought together visually striking, large format photographs of the people of the Cerrado and the environmental and sustainable development challenges they face.



Tamara Tschentscher, KM & Communications Consultant, GEF SGP, email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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