Communities and local sustainable development solutions

 It started as a side-activity by a few individuals, now the Makoni Organic Farmers’ Association is a 400 member, prize-winning initiative that is leading an exemplary community-led response to climate change Photo: UNDP Zimbabwe

Sustainable development depends on empowering and enhancing the ability of local stakeholders to govern land uses and natural resources in a sustainable manner.

As per UNDP's Strategic Plan 2014-2017, support to local governance and community practices is an essential counterpoint to the global endeavor for sustainable development, and complements UNDP’s work to mainstream environmental, poverty and social exclusion concerns into national policy and planning processes. UNDP empowers communities by promoting their rights, enhancing their environmental management systems, advising on finance mechanisms that will support local investments and innovations for sustainability, facilitating learning and knowledge sharing, and strengthening indigenous and community voices in national and international policy processes. By focusing on the integration of environmental, economic, and social objectives, UNDP recognizes and supports innovative ways to attain sustainable community livelihoods, with a focus on governance, social inclusion and community empowerment. This work builds on more than 40 years of experience in policy and practices for local and community development.

  • To advance these priorities, UNDP is implementing several programmes: The Small Grants Programme (SGP) is a corporate programme of the Global Environment Facility implemented by UNDP since 1992. SGP grant making in 119 countries promotes community-based innovation, capacity development, and empowerment through sustainable development projects of local civil society organizations with special consideration for indigenous peoples, women, and youth.
  • The Equator Initiative partnership highlights successful community-driven action to conserve biodiversity while bringing social and economic benefits that reduce poverty. Every two years, the prestigious Equator Prize recognizes innovative local development groups around the world. The WIN  is a network that brings together indigenous peoples and local community land and sea managers to share their knowledge and practices in managing ecosystems, protecting the environment and supporting sustainable livelihoods. WIN facilitates increased learning among local and indigenous stakeholders while helping them to inform policy. The Equator Initiative Case Study Database identifies, documents, and analyzes the success factors of local best practice that delivers the win-win-win solutions which ensure social, economic, and environmental sustainability.
  • The UN-REDD Programme supports the engagement of forest-dependent communities and indigenous peoples in REDD+ policy and actions, at local, national and international levels. In particular, it advances participatory governance, builds safeguards systems, helps implement free, prior and informed consent (FPIC), and assists with grievance mechanisms. In addition, UN-REDD has launched Community-Based REDD+ (CBR+), a grant-making initiative to finance REDD+ engagement and innovations at the grassroots. CBR+ will scope socially-inclusive approaches to REDD+, empowering indigenous peoples and rural communities in local land-use planning and alternative livelihoods towards sustainable development. The lessons from CBR+, currently piloting in six countries, will ultimately inform national policies for REDD+.

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