GEF Small Grants Programme

Launched in 1992, the year of the Rio Earth Summit, the Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme (GEF SGP) is a corporate program, implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and executed by the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS). GEF SGP has worked with communities and civil society around the world to grapple with critical global environmental problems.

With a presence in 126 developing countries and having provided more than 14,500 grants worldwide by 2012, GEF SGP’s cumulative experience and results have demonstrated that supporting communities in their efforts to achieve more sustainable livelihoods is not only possible, but necessary for achieving global environmental benefits.  


GEF SGP primarily works in five GEF focal areas: conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, mitigation and adaptation to climate change, protection of international waters, reduction of chemicals such as persistent organic pollutants (POPs), and prevention of land degradation, including sustainable forest management. Adaptation to climate change activities are funded by the GEF Strategic Priority for Adaptation and other donors. 

Over time, GEF SGP’s community-based, intersectoral, and multi-level approach has been tested to be effective across participating countries, making the programme an efficient and capable delivery mechanism for channeling funds from other donors (including governments), for supporting sustainable development concerns (such as water supply, sanitation, and disaster risk reduction and response), and for civil society capacity development through a host of related initiatives.

 Biogas Pit Construction, Thailand

Biogas Pit Constuction in Thailand, Image by GEF Small Grants Programme


GEF SGP is motivated by the idea that small amounts of funding that enable members of local communities to undertake environmental activities will make a significant difference in their lives and environments, with additional global benefits. The principle objectives of the GEF Small Grants Programme are to: 

  • Develop community-level strategies and implement technologies that could reduce threats to the global environment if they are replicated over time. 
  • Gather lessons from community-level experience and initiate the sharing of successful community-level strategies and innovations among CBOs and NGOs, host governments, development aid agencies, GEF and others working on a regional or global scale. 
  • Build partnerships and networks of stakeholders to support and strengthen community, NGO and national capacities to address global environmental problems and promote sustainable development. 
  • Ensure that conservation and sustainable development strategies and projects that protect the global environment are understood and practised by communities and other key stakeholders. 

The overall GEF SGP project portfolio comprises 60 percent biodiversity, 20 percent climate change, 6 percent international waters, and 14 percent multifocal issues.  The maximum grant amount awarded by GEF SGP per project is $US 50,000, with an historic average of about $US 25,000 per grant. Although grant awards are relatively small, they have been effective in demonstrating sustainable and innovative approaches to global environmental problems at the community level, as evidenced by four global evaluations (1995, 1998, 2003, 2008).

GEF SGP grant making also generates additional funding and resources that enhance grantee ownership and create wider partnerships. GEF SGP has matched programme funding from the GEF—a 20-year total of approximately $US 450 million—with cash and in-kind contributions from community, NGO, government, private sector, and donor partners for a total financial commitment of over $US 900 million since the programme’s inception. GEF funding for the program is close to $US 600 million, which includes the fifth operational phase. 

Some GEF SGP projects include:

  • Restoration of the Anse Quitor Nature Reserve in MauritiusAnse Quitor Reservation in Mauritius to protect the rare endemic plants of Rodrigues and educate locals about the plants.
  • Funding in the Mongar area of Bhutan to support women in indigenous communities build an eco-friendly business that will produce and market herbal cosmetics with local organic ingredients. This project will be the first of its kind in the country and will help over 380 households boost income while simultaneously improving forest conservation and raising awareness on the value of biodiversity-based products. 
  • Tortoise Conservation in Bulgaria through the founding of the first Tortoise Centre for reproduction and rehabilitation of tortoises. The centre will also serve as an ecotourism attraction.
  • Providing aid to a local project in Artik, Armenia to insulate apartment stairwells and install energy efficient doors, windows, lighting systems, and solar hot water & heating system

GEF SGP Fifth Operational Phase Core Grant Allocations for Country Programmes

To know more about GEF SGP in your country and how potential grantees can apply for a grant, visit the GEF SGP website at http://sgp.undp.org/

Annual Monitoring Report FY 2012

Annual Monitoring Report FY 2013