The Global Environment Facility works strategically to align its vision with the national and regional priorities of its partners, ensuring policy coherence to strengthen climate resilience and global environmental benefits for vulnerable communities.

It is committed to adopting whole-of-society approaches at the intersection of community and ecosystems which support inclusive and local action. The GEF’s financial support covers a wide range of programs and projects, including specialized initiatives that engage with stakeholders at all levels.

One of these, the Inclusive GEF Assembly Challenge Program, provides funding to community-based groups to carry out climate change and nature projects that actively involve Indigenous Peoples, youth, women, girls, and other local community actors as stakeholders, solution providers, and implementers. The program strengthens the GEF’s acknowledgement of the vital role played by civil society organizations in progressing action for the environment.

Providing Grants to Community Groups

The program provides a grant of up to $100,000 to community groups as well as access to a knowledge and partnership platform, which shares experiences in practical grassroots action to further strengthen individual group capacities.

Both the Inclusive GEF Assembly Challenge Program and the Challenge Program for Adaptation Innovation use open calls for proposals to identify project ideas directly from project proponents such as civil society organizations and the private sector and link them with GEF agencies to support implementation. 

The Inclusive GEF Assembly Challenge Program also provides an opportunity for the GEF to partner with new local civil society organizations and community-based groups to support their transformative actions for communities and the environment.

Winners of First Challenge Program

The winners of the first Inclusive GEF Assembly Challenge Program were announced during the Seventh GEF Assembly, which brought together environmental leaders from 186 countries in Vancouver, Canada. The program was designed in the run up to the Assembly, which emphasized the importance of social inclusion in seeking solutions to ensure a healthy planet with healthy people.

Twenty-three civil society organizations were selected for their community-driven work in developing countries including in Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States. This included measures to protect coastal ecosystems, enhance urban resilience through urban forestry, support smallholders on resilient farming, engage Indigenous Peoples to counter deforestation, and boost youth action to reduce plastic pollution, among others.

The winning initiatives are based in 21 countries comprising Antigua and Barbuda, Bangladesh, Belize, Bolivia, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Haiti, India, Kenya, Kiribati, Madagascar, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Tanzania, Thailand, and Tunisia.

The initiatives were chosen by a selection committee made up of the GEF’s CSO Network, Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel, Indigenous Peoples’ Advisory Group, and Gender Partnership, as well as youth representatives linked to international environmental conventions. The GEF’s constituencies were also engaged in the selection process.

Finances for the Inclusive GEF Assembly Challenge Program come from the GEF’s Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) and Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF).