Last week, the CEO and Chairperson of the Global Environment Facility, Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, visited Indonesia to attend the fourth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Minamata Convention on Mercury and took the opportunity to visit two local initiatives supported by the GEF Small Grants Programme (SGP). This was the first official field trip for the CEO and Chairperson, who has led the multilateral fund since September 2020 and was unable to travel to GEF-supported project sites at earlier stages of the pandemic.
During the field trip, Rodriguez visited the Rumah Belajar Batu Keker Learning Centre and the SukaDanta Organic Farm in Nusa Penida, an island southeast of Bali, where local communities are working with SGP to restore landscapes, establish organic gardens, and advance composting, waste management, recycling, and biogas systems. The Learning Centre is powered by solar energy and is a space for raising awareness about environmental issues, building local capacity in agro-ecological practices, and sustaining traditional knowledge and culture.
During his visit to Nusa Penida, the CEO and Chairperson met with local government officials and a variety of civil society organizations and stressed the importance of their efforts to build sustainable livelihoods and address food insecurity and energy access challenges.
“What we saw today is a good example of system change starting from a small 800 square meter farm - where food is naturally produced, without waste or a chemical footprint. The next step is to replicate this approach on other islands and in other places, to reach 800 hectares, 80,000 hectares, and beyond,” Rodriguez said. “Congratulations to the Small Grants Programme and the government of Indonesia for this wonderful work on organic agriculture that shows exactly how system change can be built from the community level.”
SGP Indonesia National Coordinator Catharina Dwihastarini added that these activities to support sustainable production and improved livelihoods could not be achieved without local level leadership and support from local and national partners.
“Communities can do many things that can create change at the global level. So, we hope to continue to expand the knowledge gained from traditional practices,” she said, also stressing the importance of taking climate change into consideration when scaling up SGP projects through other initiatives.
SGP In Indonesia
Since 1992, SGP has been providing financial and technical support to civil society and community-driven initiatives that address global environmental issues while improving local livelihoods in Indonesia. Over the past three decades, SGP Indonesia has supported 502 projects and worked with 200 civil society organizations and local community groups.
The SGP’s Sixth Operational Phase in Indonesia (2017-2022) applied the community-based landscape approach to enhance and maintain socio-ecological resilience of priority landscapes and seascapes in Indonesia. This work builds on the GEF’s focal area strategies as well as the UNDP’s Local Action service offer that supports local actors on three essential solution pathways: empowerment, resilience and investment. To date 95 community-based projects have been completed under this phase, 130,698 hectares of land are under sustainable production and 71,827 hectares of coastal seascapes are being managed as community conservation areas.
Local action = global impact
This year marks the 30th anniversary of SGP, a corporate program of the Global Environment Facility, implemented by the United Nations Development Programme since 1992. Currently active in 128 countries, SGP has supported over 26,000 projects led by local civil society and community-based organizations, including women, Indigenous Peoples, youth, and persons with disabilities, to design and lead actions that address global environmental issues.
This article was originally published by the GEF Small Grants Programme.