On the occasion of GEF Small Grants Programme’s (SGP) 25th anniversary, SGP held a reception at the Sixth GEF Assembly to celebrate its work with civil society organizations (CSO) and local communities as global environmental stewards worldwide. Over 250 participants attended the reception including presidents and ministers, council members, CSO partners, and indigenous peoples.
To start the reception, Ms. Yoko Watanabe, Global Manager of SGP, welcomed the participants highlighting the innovative work of the SGP over the past 25 years. A short video showcasing the contributions of local communities to the global environment provided a transition to the opening remarks of Ms. Adriana Dinu, Executive Coordinator of the UNDP Global Environmental Finance Unit, who on behalf of UNDP, recognized the importance of SGP as an incubator of innovation that provides thousands of excellent examples on local solutions to global challenges that can be scaled up.
The Minister of Natural Resources and Environment of Viet Nam, Mr. Tran Hong Ha, thanked SGP for its effective support to civil society organizations dedicated to environmental conservation and sustainable livelihoods. Dr. Andrew Steer, President and CEO of the World Resources Institute, praised SGP for its successful projects and the power of civil societies in making transformational changes from the bottom up, followed by Ms. Lucy Mulenkei, Chair, Indigenous Peoples Advisory Group of the GEF, who highlighted the important support of SGP in supporting indigenous peoples.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bhutan, Mr. Lyonpo Damcho Dorji, launched the SGP’s 25th Anniversary Stamps produced in partnership with the Bhutan Post. The stamps assembled some of the successful SGP projects’ photos from Bhutan and globally. At the closing, Naoko Ishii, GEF CEO and Chairperson, congratulated and noted strong support of SGP by the GEF Council, and the importance of recognizing the power of the local commons to transform the global commons.
During the event, UNDP and the GEF also launched the 25th anniversary photo book, that represents several successful SGP projects over the 25 years of history, particularly those that made big impact at national and global levels through scaling up of initiatives. Many of the projects that are highlighted in the book are followed by a series of online photo essays featured in the SGP website www.sgp.undp.org and SGP’s new photo essay platform www https://undp.shorthandstories.com/gef-small-grants-programme/. The reception concluded with a performance by the Co Tu Indigenous Peoples of Da Nang, Vietnam.
To continue the celebration during the GEF Assembly, SGP organized a side event on Small Grants, Big Impact that highlights the impact of the SGP, despite the relatively small size of the individual project investment. At the event, the GEF Independent Evaluation Office shared positive findings of the latest SGP evaluation on scaling up, sustainability, and social inclusion. This was followed by lively presentations by SGP grantees from Mongolia and Palau on the on the ground project examples. The Government of Samoa spoke on the important role that SGP plays at the national level in reaching out to the local communities. Finally, a strong message and support was provided by the Government of Australia on the ongoing partnership on Community-based Adaptation initiatives in the Small Islands Development States.
In addition, SGP had an active participation in many other side events at the GEF Assembly, including on indigenous peoples’ engagement, partnership with the Adaptation Fund, and launching the first Open Online Course on Gender and Environment organized by GEFSEC and SGP, together with the GEF Gender Partnership. SGP also co-organized the CSO Forum in partnership with the GEF, GEF CSO Network, IPAG and IUCN. For more information on the CSO forum and SGP’s reception follow this link: http://enb.iisd.org/gef/council54-assembly6/26jun.html
Finally, two official site visits were organized to SGP projects focusing on waste management project and land crab conservation in partnership with the Government of Viet Nam. The land crab conservation site visit was attended by the GEFCEO and many other Assembly participants. See story and video in the following links: https://www.thegef.org/news/small-grants-big-impacts-community-led-initiative-saving-vietnam-land-crabs, https://youtu.be/BiiYXjQtct8.
Photos courtesy of IISD.