The Global Environment Facility’s Small Grants Programme (GEF/SGP) is a global program that engages civil-society organizations and supports local leadership to achieve global environmental sustainability and improve local livelihoods. The program supports initiatives in climate-change mitigation and adaptation, biodiversity conservation, protection of international waters, reduction of the impact of persistent organic pollutants, and prevention of land degradation whilst generating sustainable livelihoods.
Partnering with GEF/SGP since 1996, the United Nations Development Programme/Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People (UNDP/ PAPP) has supported Palestinian local communities in addressing the linked challenges of environment and development and increasing resilience in these areas through its small-grant mechanism. The program has produced significant results by relying on the innovations and local knowledge of communities. Local and national partners have been able to hone in on specific challenges, such as resource scarcity and climate change, as well as the occupation and resulting inequalities.
The GEF/SGP in the State of Palestine is rooted in the belief that global environmental problems can be adequately addressed through grassroots involvement and that small amounts of funding can make a significant difference. Our partners have been able to deliver great results in protecting biodiversity, preserving native species, and tackling climate change through innovative solutions such as solar food dryers, which are significantly more efficient than those that run on fuel.
Access to clean water is a critical issue for Palestinians. With help from other partners, GEF/SGP has been able to support local initiatives that have been vital for farmers in remote areas and have enhanced their ability to remain viable on the land.
By 2019, the program in the State of Palestine had completed its sixth operational phase (OP6) and supported around 144 projects. The program focused on protecting landscape/seascape and reducing chemical release to the environment. Over this operational period (2016–2019), the program supported 12 local community initiatives to protect landscape/seascape and seven initiatives to reduce chemical release.
Parallel to the environmental impacts achieved, GEF/SGP has supported marginalized groups and women, helping them to generate sustainable livelihoods and alternative income, thus creating long-term win-win solutions. The program also benefited from the presence of the vibrant Palestinian civil society and its established network to advocate for environmental sustainability.
The Environment Quality Authority has recently made remarkable efforts to mainstream climate change into the national planning process. However, many environmental issues in the State of Palestine remain a low priority.
GEF/SGP has contributed to international knowledge about environment and climate change. Our local partners have been able to capitalize on this support to cross the first hurdle and invest in the sustainable solutions they believe in.
Husam Tubail works for UNDP as a Programme Design and Implementation Analyst with special focus on environment, climate change and energy. He has an MSC in Environmental Engineering from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne in the UK.