"Dear Colleagues, dear Friends,
This year, the Small Grants Programme of the Global Environmental Facility will celebrate its 20th Anniversary. It was created back in 1992 to support public initiatives connected with the five GEF areas of activities including land degradation, protection of international water courses, global climate change, POP and many others.
I am pleased that the Republic of Belarus became part of this Programme in 2005. SGP managed to create a unique mechanism of programme realization and thanks to this mechanism, all the decisions are taken quickly and efficiently. As all matters concerning the implementation of the SGP in Belarus, the approval of projects are undertaken by the National Steering Committee.
I also want to draw attention to the fact that all the projects implemented by NGOs and Community-Based Organizations were aimed at supporting sustainable ecological balance in Belarus, - conserving biodiversity and protecting many plant and animal species on the International Red List. Thus, with the help of the SGP projects, we addressed the problems of restoring a hydrological regime in a degraded area of approximately 10,000 hectares. This helped Belarus reduce carbon-dioxide emissions into the atmosphere by up to 80,000 tons annually, while restoring biodiversity on these territories.
I should also mention the contribution of SGP to the development of small energy through the use of nontraditional sources such as wind, solar, hydro power and many others. Yet another thing is tree planting on a territory of more than 500 hectares, and many, many other projects. I want to also emphasize that SGP is practically the only programme to help Belarus fulfill obligations for the five international conventions. SGP also addresses a number of social issues through this programme. Many people from rural areas, including representatives of civil society, are taking part in SGP projects, thus improving the quality of their life.
I am sure that GEF will continue to help solve a number of important ecological problems for Belarus. Please allow me on behalf of the Ministry, my colleagues, and myself to congratulate all participants of the Small Grants Programme on this anniversary. I wish you every success with the implementation of SGP world-wide."