30 March 2017

On the occasion of its 25th anniversary, the UNDP implemented GEF Small Grants Programme, in partnership with the Government of India and the Centre for Environment Education (CEE) in India, organized a knowledge fair with the theme “Mainstreaming grassroots innovations” in an effort to highlight the innovative solutions developed by communities and civil society organizations supported by the SGP in India. As one of the upgraded SGP Country Programmes, SGP India has supported over 350 organizations and 430 projects to protect biodiversity, address climate change and prevent land degradation benefiting over 962 women’s self-help groups and over 15,000 beneficiaries across the country since 1995.

One of the strategic priorities for SGP is the generation and dissemination of the knowledge produced by its projects allowing for other communities and donors to replicate and scale up good practices. In this sense, SGP worldwide has become an incubator of innovations from civil society organization that address sustainable development challenges. To provide space for knowledge exchange and peer to peer training the fair included four plenary sessions, over 20 thematic discussions, two training workshops, a market fair called "Green Hat" and a technology fair.

Speakers at the opening plenary, included Kartikeya Sarabhai, Director of CEE, the national host institution of SGP in India, Mr. Prabhjot Sodhi, Programme Officer representing UNDP, Mr. Rakesh Kumar, Director, International Cooperation of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and Ms. Diana Salvemini, UNDP Global Coordinator for the SGP Upgraded Country Programmes. In his remarks, Mr. Kumar mentioned the importance of SGP’s alignment with national priorities and the role of the government in scaling up these innovations.

Scaling up was the focus of other plenary sessions, which included presentations by Ms. Karuna Singh from the Earth Day Network in India and a member of SGP’s National Steering Committee; Ms. Anu John, UNDP Consultant on loan to the International Cooperation Division of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change; and Ana Maria Currea, Knowledge Manager of the Small Grants Programme. In her remarks, Ms. Currea referred to the key elements that lead to replication and scaling up such us alignment with national priorities and larger social movements and initiatives; involving diverse institutional actors from the beginning of project formulation; establishing a precedent, a successful pilot that others can follow, documenting and sharing good practices and using traditional and social media to disseminate successful practices.

For example, a project implemented by local NGO Sarthak, developed a sustainable integrated waste management system initially for five wards in the city of Bhopal that served as a model for the creation of a plastic waste management policy at the state level in 2011, and which has now been replicated in all states across India, and even in Bangladesh. This innovative model, now known as the “Bhopal model”, recycles and processes plastic and reuses it in the construction of roads benefiting over two million people.

The market place called “Green Haat” showcased the products of over 15 organizations including, organic teas, coffee, creams and herbal oils and sustainably produced organic dye fabrics, among others. The Green Haat was open not only to the fair participants but to the general public in the evenings and generated sales of SGP supported products for over US$2,250 in the three days it was open. This concept of the Green Haat, pioneered by SGP India, has been used to showcase local innovation at events organized by the government, UNDP and other partners, allowing SGP innovations to reach wider audiences. The technology fair was an invitation to other partners to also showcase their technologies and exchange knowledge.

To promote south-south knowledge transfer, SGP National coordinators from Afghanistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka also attended the event and shared good practices from their countries. For example, SGP Nepal presented its experience in piloting renewable energy technologies and SGP Sri Lanka shared its experience introducing sustainable practices in the production of rubber.

Closing the fair, Diana Salvemini spoke of the future of the SGP Country Programme and its focus on using a thematic and geographic landscape approach that would allow the Country Programme to concentrate its efforts and increase its impact. More than 300 participants attended the fair, including government officials, development practitioners, members of the academia, the private sector, communities and NGOs.