Last June 5 marked the commemoration of the World Environment Day and the official launch of the GEF Small Grants Programme (GEF SGP) in Sierra Leone. The event attracted officials from various Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), the Government of Sierra Leone, INGOs, donor agencies and the private sector.
In the opening statement, the chairman, Dr. Joseph M. Macarthy, Lecturer, School of Environmental Sciences and member of the GEF SGP National Steering Committee (NSC) emphasized the need to bring together different partners at different levels to contribute in terms of funds, expertise and reach. He urged participants and all stakeholders to provide absolute support for the promotion and strengthening of local and community-based experiences, innovations, skills and knowledge through the GEF Small Grants Programme.
The GEF Operational Focal Point and Executive Director of the Environment Protection Agency in Sierra Leone, praised the approach of GEF SGP, its flexibility and understanding of community-based issues that allow active participation of different stakeholders in awarding grants to CSOs. He advised all stakeholders to stick to the SGP model of co-management and joint learning, to make the collaboration relevant and effective.
Other speakers included Mr. Syril Jusu, Mr. A. R Kamara, Mr. Momodu Bah and Mr. A. Jalloh- Focal Points for the UNCCD, UNFCCC (CDM), UNCBD and the Stockholm Convention respectively. These convention focal points stressed the need to use SGP resources to negotiate and craft effective institutions and realistic policies from the ground-up and improve the efficacy of national level processes and relationships by finding the right balance between state action and other institutional actors.
In his address, the National Coordinator of GEF SGP, Abu-Bakar S. Massaquoi thanked all stakeholders for their support since the inception of the programme in October 2012 and emphasized the importance of starting change from the ground-up and of learning by doing to then scale up successful practices.
Launching the event, the Deputy Country Director (Programmes) and Acting Country Director for the UNDP Country Office in Sierra Leone, Mr. Mohamed Abchir expressed their commitment to continue using the SGP to encourage maximum country and community initiative and ownership, and urged all stakeholders to give maximum support so that the programme can deliver outputs and create fair, equitable and lasting outcomes. Mr. Abchir asked participants to treat the SGP as more than simply a fund that provides small grants to CBOs and NGOs for environmental and community improvement, and advised that it can make a good platform for building partnerships and networks across civil society, promoting policy dialogues with government at all levels while incorporating the needs of poor and marginalized communities. He affirmed that the UNDP Country Office will utilise SGP resources to foster an enabling environment within the country for addressing environmental issues and addressing sustainable development goals.
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