Projects Engaging Local Communities and Organisations to Steer the GEF Seventh Operational Phase of Small Grants Programme in India

Underscoring the significance of engaging with grassroots communities to effectively tackle the impacts of climate change, government representatives and experts taking part in the inception workshopfor the GEF Seventh Operational Phase of Small Grants Programme in India (SGP – OP7) in New Delhi on Tuesday, emphasised the need to ‘think globally and act locally‘ to ring in transformative change.

Mr. Neelesh Kumar Sah, Joint Secretary, MoEF and CC delivering the Keynote Address

The SGP – OP7 that aims to bring together stakeholders from non-governmental, community-based and civil society organisations is being implemented by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) under the guidance of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). It proposes to enable communities and organizations to take collective action for socio-ecological resilience and sustainable livelihoods in three key landscapes of India.

Delivering the keynote address Mr. Neelesh Kumar Sah, Joint Secretary, MoEF&CC said, “To make effective changes on the ground it is important to get the State governments on board.” Mr. Sah pointed out that the small grants programme can play a vital role in realising the goal of ‘thinking globally and acting locally‘ and that projects under it must be designed to impact livelihoods positively.

Placing the small grants programme in perspective, Dr. Vibha Dhawan, Director General, TERI,said it is an effective way to involve stakeholders on the ground. “Small programmes bring organisations with diversity on board and show us what is needed at the grassroots. Their participation is essential to address the global problems of climate change and resource depletion,” she said.

Mr. Ashish Chaturvedi, Head, Environment and Energy, UNDP, India, too emphasised the significance of this project in tackling climate change and bringing about transformative changes. “Small steps and community-led action are equally important if not more, when it comes to transformative change, as compared to large flagship initiatives,” Mr. Chaturvedi added. Highlighting the long legacy of the small grants programme in India, he said over 400 of them have been implemented across the country so far.

The SGP-OP7 aims to provide financial and technical support to local communities, community-based and civil society organizations, mostly in poor and often remote areas, for initiatives that conserve and restore the environment while enhancing people’s livelihoods and wellbeing.

Highlighting the challenges faced by local communities in the event of climate change, Ms. Anusha Sharma, Project Officer, NRM and Biodiversity, UNDP India, emphasised the need for strategies for local action. “Local communities are at the heart of climate action. They need technical capacity, financial support and, on occasions, support from the government,” Ms Sharma noted.

Explaining the framework of the SGP-OP7, Mr. Manish Kumar Pandey, SGP National Coordinator, said the project will focus on the thematic areas of biodiversity, land degradation, and climate change adaptation and mitigation. It will be implemented in the highlands of the Northeast, the central semi-arid region of India and the Indian coastal regions. “The target is to restore 10,000 hectares of land by the end of five years of the project period. The project aims to work towards improved practices for the benefit of biodiversity in the marine habitat – 600 hectares at the end of five years.”

The inception workshop is aimed at building awareness on the project objectives, thematic areas, selected landscapes, and information regarding the grant disbursal procedure. Giving a broad framework of the governance structure of the OP-7 of the Small Grants Programme, Ms. Tabinda Bashir, Project Associate, Climate Change and Resilience, UNDP India said, “This is a unique programme that keeps the civil society at the centre and all grants will be approved by the national steering committee that upholds utmost transparency.”

Ms. Aprajita Mukherjee, Gender Focal Point, UNDP CO, underlined the special gender action plan which will be part of the SGP-OP7. “In a fast-paced project there is a possibility of gender slipping through the cracks. The gender action plan is the standard to be mindful of the gender angle. It reminds us that we need to be aware of the differential impacts of climate change on gender,” Ms.Mukherjee added.

Making a suggestion to include the third gender into the special gender action plan, Mr. Sonamani Haobam, Deputy Secretary, MoEF&CC, underscored the significance of small steps to achieve the larger sustainability goals. “It is important to go back to the stage where humans engaged with nature for sustainable consumption and production. We had begun to manipulate nature and we are now at its mercy,” Mr Haobam said.

About TERI

The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) is an independent, multi-dimensional research organization, with capabilities in policy research, technology development, and implementation. Headquartered in New Delhi, TERI has regional centres and campuses in Gurugram, Bengaluru, Guwahati, Mumbai, Panaji, and Nainital, supported by a multi-disciplinary team of scientists, sociologists, economists, engineers, administrative professional and state-of-the-art infrastructure.

About UNDP

On the ground in about 170 countries and territories, UNDP works to eradicate poverty while protecting the planet. We help countries develop strong policies, skills, partnerships and institutions so they can sustain their progress. UNDP has worked in India since 1951 in almost all areas of human development, from systems and institutional strengthening to inclusive growth and sustainable livelihoods, as well as sustainable energy, environment and resilience. UNDP’s programmes continue to fully integrate a global vision for catalytic change with India’s national priorities. With over 30 projects on the ground in almost every state, today UNDP India works to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by transforming traditional models to do development differently.

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