17 November 2020

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The GEF Small Grants Programme (SGP) is excited to announce the start of its new operational phase - Seventh Operational Phase from 2020 to 2024, with a revamped strategy and renewed financial commitments. The SGP is financed by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and other partners and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). With an approved GEF-7 finance of $128 million for the global programme and expected additional finance of over $100 million for this four-year operational phase, SGP will be launching its first Call for Proposals in its over 128 participating countries in the coming months.

These Call for Proposals in each participating country will identify innovative and inclusive ideas from civil society and community-based groups, with targeted focus on indigenous peoples, youth, women, and persons with disabilities, and effectively address current global environmental challenges, including relevant actions in response to COVID-19 pandemic and for green recovery. SGP’s decentralized and proven mechanism will continue to empower local communities and indigenous peoples as engines for systemic change for sustainable development.

“To successfully reverse environmental degradation, we need all hands on deck. The GEF Small Grants Programme empowers front-line communities and civil society to address biodiversity loss, climate change, and other critical environmental concerns, in a way that makes sense for local conditions,” said Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, CEO and Chairperson of the GEF. “The array of initiatives supported by the SGP at the landscape and seascape level add up to something very impactful that is helping build more resilient ecosystems and more informed communities – this is critical as we work to address the root causes of environmental damage to prevent future disasters including pandemics.”

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Since its establishment in 1992, the SGP has supported over 25,000 projects in 133 countries, providing over USD 650 million in grants to civil society organisations (CSOs) and local communities. SGP recognizes that CSOs and local communities are key partners and solution providers in addressing the drivers of global environmental degradation. Besides effectively delivering global environmental benefits, these projects have contributed in empowering civil society and enhancing the necessary civic space at the national and global levels for more inclusive and holistic engagement of all sections of the society in the pursuit of sustainable development.

“UNDP is proud and honored to be entrusted with the implementation of the SGP, with financing from the Global Environment Facility, for the past three decades. It is a flagship programme that provides innovative nature-based solutions, powered by local actions. The crisis we face with COVID-19 shows clearly why the relationship between people and the planet must be at the heart of building forward better from the pandemic, just as it is at the heart of the Sustainable Development Goals. The UNDP-GEF SGP’s outreach and long-standing partnership with local communities, including women, indigenous peoples, youth, and persons with disabilities are critical in addressing the crisis we face today. UNDP looks forward to our continued strong partnership with GEF and other donors for SGP’s operation and further scaling up the work.” stated Mr. Haoliang Xu, Assistant Administrator and Director for Policy and Programme Support of UNDP.

Under the 7th Operational Phase, the SGP will focus its operation on promoting and supporting scalable initiatives at the local level to tackle global environmental issues in priority landscapes and seascapes. It will support projects that serve as incubators of innovation, potentially broadening the replication of best practices and approaches through larger projects that are supported by the GEF and/or other partners, and act as the engine for systemic changes. The objective will be achieved through SGP’s core approaches around inclusion, innovation and impact.

In particular, the SGP will grant priority to the following strategic initiatives that are designed to promote integrated approaches to key global environmental issues at the community level, in line with the relevant GEF focal areas and Impact Program strategies: (a) Sustainable Agriculture and Fisheries; (b) Low-Carbon Energy Access Benefits; (c) Community-Based Threatened Ecosystems and Species Conservation: Land and Water; (d) Local to Global Coalitions in Chemicals and Waste Management; and (e) Catalyzing Sustainable Urban Development.

Moreover, the SGP will continue to expand the implementation of its cross-cutting initiatives on social inclusion and CSO-dialogue platforms with the government and the private sector. These initiatives ensure that the voices of local communities and vulnerable groups are integrated into national and global discussions on sustainable development.

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“Together with our partners and country teams, SGP will accelerate and revamp its support under this new phase to continue contributing towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and global environmental benefits though local action with global impact.” says Yoko Watanabe, Global Manager of the SGP.

During the former 6th Operational Phase (2016-2019), SGP achieved significant global environmental and local socio-economic benefits through over 3500 projects. SGP projects positively influenced the management of 1,782 protected areas, including Indigenous Peoples and Community Conserved Territories and Areas, totalling approximately 33 million hectares. Climate change projects supported 54,636 households in their efforts to achieve energy access and additional benefits including increased income, health benefits and improved environmental services; 1.6 million hectares of land were brought under improved management practices, including forests, agricultural land, and water courses and 992,370 community members were able to adopt improved agricultural land and forest management practices; 103,186 hectares of marine and coastal areas and fishing grounds were brought under sustainable management and 159 tons of pesticides were appropriately disposed of. In addition, SGP has strengthened the capacities of 3,490 CSOs and 2,793 community-based organisations, comprising over 95,174 people, to address multiple challenges across all the relevant Multilateral Environmental Agreements. Thus, SGP is poised to achieve even greater results during this new phase in cooperation with all partners and supporters.

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