Through GEF SGP, CSOs and communities have contributed directly to local, regional, national, and international planning and policy processes. GEF SGP experiences and lessons learned have been recog-nized and incorporated in local and national policy development, and have influenced changes in municipal and provincial regulations, national laws, and have sometimes contributed local level insights to international environmental processes through participation of SGP grantees and NSC members in national consultative dialogues. GEF SGP grantee and partner networks have been vital for convening and influencing policy dialogues from the local to the national and global levels.
At all levels, partnerships with key government and nongovernmental authorities and policy makers, as well as influential donors and other allies, help ensure that well-informed support exists for SGP and that SGP's approach can be mainstreamed into sustainable development policy and practice. NSCs have played a critical role in this regard. Moreover, as expressed by the Joint Evaluation of the Small Grants Programme (2008), SGP's long-term commitment to localities and countries allow it to make greater policy impacts across participating countries: "SGP programs that establish good track records and demonstrate that they are 'there to stay' are in a better position to influence broader processes—sometimes with far-reaching impacts."
The positive policy effects of SGP's long-term and active presence in countries can be readily seen in all the GEF focal areas. It would be safe to say that SGP has influenced the development of local and national strategies and policies in the GEF focal areas in all participating countries. Although SGP has policy impact across the GEF focal areas, it has been especially notable in the biodiversity and climate change focal areas that comprise the bulk of SGP's global portfolio.
SGP biodiversity projects in most countries have had major policy impacts at the local and national levels, particularly in promoting the creation and expan¬sion of protected areas and biological corridors and establishment of co-management arrangements (exemplified by cases from Belize, Bulgaria, Costa Rica, Mexico, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago, and Turkey). SGP projects have also supported sustainable management of natural resources through the negotiation and establishment of appropriate regulations, such as seen in Belize, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Ghana, Iran, Kenya, Madagascar, Mexico, Philippines, Senegal, Seychelles, Tanzania, and Togo.
In the areas of renewable energy and energy efficiency, SGP projects have influenced the development of energy policies and laws at the national level. In Bulgaria, the Black Sea Energy Research Centre implemented the Development of Regulatory Strategies for Balanced Growth of the Utilization of the Potential for Generation of Electricity from Renewable Energy Sources (RES) project with SGP support. The project contributed to the development of the National RES Plan of Bulgaria, incorporating a substantial number of proposals made by the grantee, e.g. on promoting the use of renewable energy sources for heating – which was usually not addressed in national energy planning – promoting decentralized production of renewable energy, and coordinating development planning between investors and energy networks.
SGP policy advocacy and change has taken multiple forms over the past 20 years. Some of the most important means are direct policy advocacy, knowledge production for policy change, academic and research policy change, and policy advocacy and change by networks inspired by SGP.