SGP aspires to empower communities to act and to participate in their own development. SGP is rooted in the belief that global environmental problems can best be addressed through actions that are designed, implemented, and owned by communities, and with benefits that directly accrue to them. In contrast with "expert-reliant" development interventions, SGP emphasizes building on local ecological and cultural knowledge and practice, facilitating innovation and introduction of new techniques as appropriate, and following community leadership in solving problems. SGP is premised on the notion that through the provision of relatively small amounts of funding, local communities can undertake activities that will make a significant improvement in their well being while generating global environmental benefits.
SGP works by taking risks as an incubator of ideas and innovations and providing seed money for CBOs and NGOs to take them forward. Because SGP funding is modest and its interventions designed to be initially small scale, it can readily support community-based experimentation. Once the idea has been tested on the ground and proven to be effective in meeting community needs, it can take off by networking with other CSOs, attracting additional donor support, and being replicated and scaled up. Global environmental benefits are produced through the cumulative effect of small-scale, community-based efforts.