Local Economies Get a Boost; 10 projects get GEF/SGP funds

July 27, 2023

26 July 2023 – Nata, Botswana:  The rate of natural resource exploitation and use of our physical environment will soon reach the thresholds for our own existence on planet Earth. Scientific evidence shows that our natural resource stocks are being depleted at ever-increasing rates and that our natural capital has diminished in quality and quantity. The increasing loss of biological diversity, land degradation, desertification, water stress, food insecurity, health pandemics and natural disasters have become regular concerns. Climate change threatens the very sustainability of our livelihoods and poverty continues to overwhelm our development efforts. It is now more critical than ever for us to pay more attention to balancing what is economically feasible, socially desirable, and environmentally sustainable.

The Ministry of Environment and Tourism in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) recently held an event to award and officially launch 10 projects funded to the tune of USD 455,122.14 by the Global Environment Facility -Small Grants Programme (GEF/SGP). The grantees were also capacitated and equipped with the necessary skills to effectively implement the projects by providing training to familiarize themselves with SGP Standard Operating Procedures. 

When giving a keynote address at the occasion of the GEF/SGP Grant Award Ceremony in Nata, Botswana, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment and Tourism Mr. Thato Yaone Raphaka remarked that “Sustainable Development is the cornerstone of our Transitional National Development Plan and Vision 2036”. Raphaka said it is for this reason that his Ministry together with UNDP through the GEF/SGP took the responsibility to impart knowledge to all key players particularly the grantees and the Technical Advisory Committees, on the best practices of project implementation to get the intended results. He added that the Global Environment Facility – Small Grants Programme is one of the initiatives that the Government of Botswana through the Ministry of Environment and Tourism is implementing with support from the United Nations Development Programme. 

He added that “Our interest as a Ministry and Government is to see initiatives funded by SGP contributing to protection and conservation of biodiversity and natural resources, increasing resilience to effects of climate change and ultimately improving the well-being and livelihoods of Batswana in rural communities”.

On his part, the UNDP Resident Representative – Dr Balazs Horvath highlighted that the SGP recognizes that rural communities, particularly women and youth in developing nations are most at risk because they depend on natural resources for their livelihoods and often live in fragile ecosystems. He said that the programme provides grants of up to $50,000 directly to local communities including, community-based organizations and other non-governmental groups for projects consistent with sustainable development pathways, anchored in resilience-building, climate change mitigation and adaptation, biodiversity conservation, and sustainable land management for improved livelihoods.

Horvath explained that since its inception in 1992, the programme has been supporting the Government of Botswana in environmental conservation efforts as well as driving the sustainable development agenda of the country through supporting community-led pilot projects with the potential for up-scaling and replication by the Government and other partners. He remarked that over 200 initiatives with varying degrees of success at a total of USD 6,6 million have been supported since inception.

The Grantees were encouraged to ensure that implementation of the funded initiatives is done in line with the objective of the GEF/SGP which is to deliver a portfolio of innovative, inclusive and impactful projects that address global environmental challenges and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In supporting the Government in driving its sustainable development agenda, the GEF Small Grants Programme invited legally registered Civil Society Organizations and Academic and Research Institutions in Botswana to submit innovative proposals that contribute to environmental conservation as per strategic initiatives of the Country Programme Strategy for Operational Phase 7 in quarter 4, 2022. The approved projects are planned to support the implementation of the Operational Phase 7 to support local communities within and outside the boundaries of selected landscapes of Makgadikgadi Wetland System, the Bobirwa Area and Panhandle of the Okavango Delta