The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Acting Secretary Jim O. Sampulna underscored the importance of building the resilience of community-based organizations (CBOs) in undertaking conservation and livelihood interventions as the country launched the Seventh Operational Phase of the United Nations Development Programme-Global Environment Facility (UNDP-GEF) Small Grants Programme (SGP-7) on April 8.
The SGP, which is implemented by the UNDP-Philippines and supported by the GEF and DENR-Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB), empowers CBOs including women, indigenous peoples, and youth through community-led projects that aim to achieve global environmental benefits while improving livelihood and reducing poverty.
Since 1992, SGP has implemented 26,429 projects in 136 countries. In the Philippines, over US$11 million in grants have been distributed over the past 25 years.
With the launch of the SGP-7, Sampulna said that a more holistic landscape strategy will be implemented for the project sites in Aurora province, Catubig Watershed in Northern Samar, Calamianes Group of Islands in Palawan, and Siargao Protected Landscape and Seascape in Surigao del Norte.
“It is urgent that we strengthen the resilience of our CBOs as they are the frontliners in undertaking conservation and livelihood interventions. In this period of climate change and biodiversity degradation impacts on communities and ecosystems, a more integrated effort of weaving together interventions is essential,” Sampulna said.
SGP-7 targets to support community organizations in enhancing the socio-ecological resilience of the four target landscapes through community initiatives to produce global environmental and sustainable development benefits.
The initiatives will be identified and implemented to support landscape level strategies formulated by multi-stakeholder groups composed of representatives of landscape communities, local government authorities, non-government organizations (NGOs), and the private sector.
The 7th operational phase also targets to effect change towards strengthening governance systems even for disaster response, recovery and resilience building.
“Catastrophic incidents like the onslaught of Typhoon Odette highlight the urgent need to continue our efforts on disaster risk reduction and resilience building,” UNDP Philippines Resident Representative Dr. Selva Ramachandran said.
“These devastating events exacerbate the already limiting and unpredictable situation brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. The promising changes being offered by SGP-7 are expected to effect change towards strengthening governance systems even for disaster response, recover, and building resilient communities,” Ramachandran pointed out.
The strategies that will be used for implementing the program will include expanding the coverage of protection mechanisms over actual Key Biodiversity Areas and critical habitats; maximizing the Expanded National Integrated Protected Area Systems or E-NIPAS law; and increasing the support for indigenous peoples’ socio-cultural values about biodiversity through support for local community managed areas.
Likewise, Building Civil Society Organizations-Peoples Organizations-Government partnerships; increasing stakeholder participation; biodiversity-friendly and climate-resilient livelihoods and enterprises; and capacity building of communities and local government units are also included as strategies for implementation.
The program is expected to benefit NGOs, the academe, indigenous peoples, community groups, local governments, other sector agencies, and private sectors.