$2.2M GEF Initiative to Promote Community Action
Kabul, Afghanistan: The Global Environment Facility (GEF) Small Grants Programme that is designed to bring benefits of community-based environmental management to Afghanistan was launched here today. An event to mark the occasion was organized at the National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA), the designated Government agency for protection of environment. The programme will promote capacity development for community-based conservation efforts, youth participation and livelihoods generation at the local level.
Prince Mostafa Zaher, Director General of National Environmental Protection Agency addressing the Meeting for Launch of Small Grants Programme in Afghanistan
In his opening remarks, Prince Mostapha Zaher, Director General of NEPA and the GEF Operation Focal Point for Afghanistan expressed the hope that the programme will deliver global environmental benefits while promoting grassroots action in support of conservation of environment in the country.
“I am confident that the Small Grants Programme will directly benefit the people of Afghanistan, those very people whose lives we seek to improve”, Mr. Zaher observed.
He said the role of the National Steering Committee for the SGP would be to solicit from the people their priorities for environmental management in Afghanistan.
“Our role will not be to tell but ask the masses who are the real stakeholders in the protection and preservation of environment what our plans for sustainable development should be. Only a people-centric approach to management of environmental challenges will work”, the Prince noted.
Speaking on the occasion, the UNDP Deputy Country Director, Mr. David Akopyan highlighted the importance of the Small Grants Programme in opening up opportunities for alternative livelihood opportunities, institutional strengthening, knowledge building and protection of global environment. He referred to the challenges that Afghan communities are facing in terms of poverty and environmental degradation.
“Globally, the SGP has demonstrated that small community-led projects can ultimately produce big impacts, by helping foster innovative ways of addressing sustainable development issues in Afghanistan. Time has come to look forward with hope and integrate sustainable development considerations in national plans and programmes”, Mr. Akopyan said.
It is estimated that over 90 per cent of internal conflicts in Afghanistan have their roots in land and water disputes. A vast majority of the Afghans living in rural areas rely on common property resources such as land and water. It is well known that rural poverty has been exacerbated because of inadequate access of poor population to resources.
UNDP interventions in Afghanistan are aligned with the national development planning including the National Priority Programmes (NPPs) and other development policy instruments. In addition to support being provided to NEPA for climate change initiatives and for follow up to the Rio+20 summit held earlier in 2012, UNDP interventions support biodiversity conservation, measures to stem land degradation, climate change adaptation and community-driven action through the Small Grants Programme.
In Afghanistan, the GEF-SGP support to community-level initiatives will be to the tune of over USD 2.2 million. Across the globe, SGP has been promoting grassroots action and community-centric approach to deliver global environmental benefits in the areas of biodiversity conservation, climate change mitigation, protection of international waters, prevention of land degradation, and elimination of harmful chemicals.
With a presence in more than 126 developing countries and having provided more than 14,500 grants worldwide by 2012, 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 realizing global environmental benefits. The Small Grants Programme is governed at the country level by the National Steering Committee (NSC), a majority of whose members are drawn from the non-governmental sector.
Capacity development, community empowerment and participation, poverty reduction, gender mainstreaming, indigenous people, youth participation and knowledge management are among the approaches that the GEF SGP seeks to advance in developing economies.
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