The GEF Small Grants Programme (SGP) is a corporate program of the Global Environment Facility that provides financial and technical support to local civil society and community-based organizations to develop and implement innovative local actions that address global environmental issues, while also improving livelihoods and reducing poverty. 

Launched in 1992, SGP works closely with and complements other GEF projects and programs, supporting 136 countries since its inception. Evaluations led by the Independent Evaluation Offices of the GEF and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have proven that civil society-led initiatives can generate environmental benefits, while supporting sustainable livelihoods, gender equality and civil society empowerment.

The funding provided by SGP to civil society and community-based organizations, including Indigenous Peoples, women, youth, and persons with disabilities enables them to take measured risks while furthering innovation. Once a community has proven the effectiveness of an innovative idea or strategy on the ground, it can often scale up impact through networking with other communities and partner organizations.

What We Do

SGP finances community-led initiatives to address global environmental issues through a decentralized, country-level delivery mechanism managed by a multi-stakeholder National Steering Committee and supported by a SGP Country Program Team in each of the participating countries. It is currently implemented by the UNDP, on behalf of the GEF partnership. SGP is designed to mobilize bottom-up actions by empowering local civil society and community-based organizations, including women, Indigenous Peoples, youth and persons with disabilities.

It funds grants up to $50,000. In practice, the average grant has been around $25,000. In addition, SGP provides a maximum of $150,000 for strategic projects. These larger projects allow for scaling up and replication of successful approaches, covering a large number of communities within critical landscapes or seascapes.

SGP remains one of the GEF’s flagship initiatives and enjoys strong and broad support from its stakeholders, including governments, donors, civil society, and community-based organizations.



Since its inception, SGP has provided over $724.91 million of GEF and other donor funds to over 26,429 projects around the world. In addition, over $876.94 million have been mobilized as co-finance to community-based projects.

Between 2016 and 2020, SGP grants have positively influenced a total of 43 million hectares of protected areas, brought 486,138 hectares of land under improved management practices, and reduced 80,034 tons of land-based pollution.

The Third Joint Evaluation of SGP by the GEF and UNDP Independent Evaluation Offices, covering the period from July 2014 to December 2019, highlighted that SGP has been consistent in its delivery of environmental results at local, national and global levels, and in generating economic and social benefits.

SGP quickly responded to COVID-19 by aligning its efforts with the UNDP and GEF strategies to address the devastating impacts of the pandemic, particularly at the local community level. Besides immediate response and relief efforts addressing food insecurity, SGP used its grantee networks to distribute personal protective equipment and provide.

Looking Ahead

Under the GEF-7 finance, SGP is placing greater focus on promoting strategic and results-based investments at the local level, in alignment with the GEF’s Programming Direction on Focal Area and Impact Program investments.  With a focus on innovation, inclusion and impact – “the 3Is”, SGP acts as a multi-stakeholder partnership platform in support of local actions.

With an emphasis on integrated landscapes and seascapes approach, SGP is also continuing to support projects that would serve as incubators of innovation, with the potential for broader replication of successful approaches through larger projects supported by the GEF and/or other partners.

Finally, SGP prioritizes the following strategic initiatives, which complement the focal area investments and Impact Programs at the community level: 1) Sustainable Agriculture and Fisheries; 2) Low-Carbon Energy Access Benefits; 3) Community-based Threatened Ecosystems and Species Conservation: Land and Water; 4) Local to Global Coalitions in Chemicals and Waste Management; and 5) Catalyzing Sustainable Urban Development.