This week in New York, the GEF launched a user guide for Indigenous Peoples on GEF project financing on the margins of the 15th session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII).
Indigenous Peoples livelihoods, knowledge and ecosystem management practices are highly relevant to the GEF’s mission,” said Yoko Watanabe, GEF Indigenous Peoples Focal Point at the GEF, addressing the UNPFII plenary. “We have a number of policies and guidelines in place to ensure that GEF operations fully respect the dignity, human rights, economies, cultures and traditional knowledge of Indigenous Peoples."
Over 220 GEF projects are managed by or have the active involvement of Indigenous Peoples. For the past two years, the GEF Indigenous Peoples Advisory Group (IPAG) has discussed different methods to increase Indigenous Peoples’ access to GEF financing.
One was the creation of an Indigenous Peoples Fellowship Programme under the GEF Small Grants Programme (GEF SGP), providing capacity development for IP in policy and project management activities. “The SGP is excited to add the inclusion of indigenous fellows to the suite of targeted measures to increase the direct participation of Indigenous Peoples in the programming of the GEF,” said Mr. Terence Hay-Edie, Program Advisor at the GEF SGP.
Another priority for the GEF is to increase Indigenous Peoples’ awareness of different GEF funding modalities. The new user guide for Indigenous Peoples on GEF project financing will help do just that. It includes information on the types of projects the GEF supports, and the processes for Indigenous Peoples to apply for funding opportunities.
On the margins of the UNPFII, the GEF, IPAG, the GEF SGP and the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), provided an overview of funding modalities Indigenous Peoples have access to with GEF financing at a side event.
Presentations included details on the processes involved for Indigenous Peoples interested in applying for projects, as well as current and possible funding windows of interest to Indigenous Peoples. Speakers also shared ideas on how Indigenous Peoples financing opportunities can be expanded at the GEF and other multilateral funding entities.
"CEPF recognizes the great importance of Indigenous Peoples and their role in maintaining healthy ecosystems, and supports Indigenous communities in many of the world’s biodiversity hotspots where CEPF works,” said Michele Zador, grant director for CEPF. “This support has built capacity in areas such as land management, developed sustainable livelihoods, improved food security, assisted them in obtaining formal land rights, and made their voices heard in development decision-making while conserving biodiversity and improving human well-being.”
One such example is the CEPF-supported Socio Bosque program in Ecuador, where multiple indigenous communities have received direct economic benefits in exchange for 20-year conservation agreements on their land. The program has proven to be one of Latin America’s most effective for linking conservation with economic, health and education benefits. Socio Bosque reports that nearly 1.5 million hectares have been protected and more than 180,000 individuals have benefited.
The GEF has also strengthened monitoring and knowledge sharing related to Indigenous Peoples by refining project templates and indicators to consistently track projects involving Indigenous Peoples. The recent annual monitoring exercise shows that 20 percent of projects involve Indigenous Peoples. The GEF continues to seek new and creative ways to enhance and expand our partnerships with Indigenous Peoples through continued dialogue and feedback from our network of partners.