Community Action

Global Impact

GEF Small Grants Programme in Pakistan

The program was launched in Pakistan in August 1993 subsequent to a process of consultations and preparatory activities which were commenced in February 1993 between the government of Pakistan, NGOs and UNDP.

Funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) as a corporate programme, SGP is implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on behalf of the GEF partnership, and is executed by the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS). SGP supports activities of non-governmental and community-based organizations in developing countries towards climate change abatement, conservation of biodiversity , protection of international waters , reduction of the impact of persistent organic pollutants and and prevention of land degradation while generating sustainable livelihoods.

GEF SGP Pakistan from its pilot phase to date has successfully implemented 274 projects and 38 projects are under execution, covering all GEF focal areas. Some of the projects attracted international attention by receiving international awards including Ashden, Alcan Prize and UN Habitat Award.

At present, 125 active countries participate in SGP having ratified the conventions on biological diversity and climate change.

Organisational Structure

SGP Structure

How does UNDP-GEF SGP Work?

UNDP-GEF SGP is rooted in the belief that global environmental problems can best be addressed if local people are involved and there are direct community benefits and ownership. UNDP-GEF SGP is convinced that with small amounts of funding, members of local communities can undertake activities that will make a significant difference in their lives and environments, with global benefits, in contrast with top-down, expert-reliant development interventions.


Participation, democracy, flexibility, and transparency are cornerstones of the UNDP-GEF SGP approach. The programme encourages and supports the participation of communities, local people, NGOs, CBOs (community-based organizations), and other stakeholders in all aspects of programme planning, design and implementation:

  • The formulation of country programme strategies;
  • The development, presentation, and execution of project concept papers and proposals;
  • Building partnerships to broaden the scope of the programme and to communicate and replicate successful GEF UNDP/SGP initiatives;
  • Raising public awareness of global environmental issues and changing public attitudes and practices;
  • Influencing government environmental policies and programmes; and
  • Mobilizing in-kind and monetary resources to support project and programme sustainability.

The flexible decentralized structure of UNDP-GEF SGP encourages maximum country and community-level ownership and initiative:


Grants are made directly to community-based organizations (CBOs) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in recognition of the key role they play as a resource and constituency for environment and development concerns. The maximum grant amount per project is US$50,000, but averages around US$20,000. Grants are channeled directly to CBOs and NGOs.

Country Programme Strategies

Each participating country develops a country programme strategy, which adapts the UNDP-GEF SGP global strategic framework to specific country conditions. UNDP-GEF SGP country strategies take into account existing national biodiversity and climate change strategies and plans, as well as those relating to national development and poverty eradication. They may put emphasis on certain thematic areas and, particularly in large countries, are encouraged to adopt geographic concentration to ensure synergy and impact as well as to facilitate programme administration.

Country Program Manager

A locally recruited Country Program Manager (CPM) is appointed to carry out day-to-day management of the programme and serve as secretary to the NSC. An UNDP-GEF SGP office is established either in UNDP or in a host NGO. The National Coordinator, working with the NSC, reaches out to the NGO community and CBOs to inform them of availability of grants, and receives and screens proposals.

National Steering Committee

Once a country is accepted to host an UNDP-GEF SGP programme, it forms a voluntary National Steering Committee (NSC), which is the central element of UNDP-GEF SGP and provides the major substantive contribution to and oversight of the programme. The NSC typically comprises representatives from local NGOs, government, academia, UNDP and occasionally co-funding donors, indigenous peoples' organizations, the private sector and the media.

The NSC develops a country programme strategy, considers whether proposals for grants are feasible and meet UNDP-GEF SGP criteria, and what kind of technical support is needed for implementation. The NSC is responsible for final approval of grants, helps undertake site visits and review, advises on design of grant proposals, ensures monitoring and evaluation, and champions UNDP-GEF SGP in national fora.

Government membership on NSCs and collaboration with local government agencies enable local communities to highlight areas requiring policy change at the district, regional and national levels and influence decision-making.

Monitoring and Evaluation

UNDP-GEF SGP's monitoring and evaluation system is intended to provide stakeholders and partners with information about the status and results of individual projects, the progress of country programmes and the achievement of overall programme objectives.

UNDP-GEF SGP views monitoring and evaluation above all as a participatory and forward-looking process that enables capacity building and learning, maintains accountability, promotes sustainability, and provides opportunities to identify and communicate lessons learned from project and programme experiences. In the case of UNDP-GEF SGP, monitoring and evaluation are required at three levels - project, country and global.

Central Programme Management Team

A small headquarters staff provides global guidance on GEF focal areas, reviews country programme strategies, receives and analyses semi-annual and biennial reports and serves as liaison with the GEF Secretariat and GEF Council, preparing annual reports and work plans and requests for replenishment for Council approval.

As executing agency, UNOPS has responsibility for administrative and financial matters. While the programme has been headquartered in New York since the beginning, UNDP-GEF SGP operations are carried out in a decentralized manner.

At the heart of the UNDP-GEF SGP model, funding decisions are informed, owned and implemented by local people.

About GEF

The GEF's mission is the protection of the global environment. The Global Environment Facility forges international cooperation and finances actions to address six critical threats to the global environment: biodiversity loss, climate change, degradation of international waters, ozone depletion, land degradation, and persistent organic pollutants (POPs).

The underlying rationale for support of all GEF projects is that some global environmental benefit is at stake, and the project seeks to address the threat(s) or need(s) to ensure that the global environmental benefit is conserved, or sustainably used and managed. GEF funds are not substitutes for regular or traditional sources of development funding. GEF financing will always be additional to the funds required for national development, and are solely for the purpose of obtaining global environmental benefits.

The GEF is a financial mechanism structured as a trust fund that operates in collaboration and partnership with the three implementing agencies (UNDP, UNEP, and the World Bank). Today the GEF is the largest funder of projects to improve the global environment. Since 1991, GEF has achieved a strong track record with developing countries and countries with economies in transition, providing $8.6 billion in grants and leveraging $36.1 billion in co-financing for over 2,400 projects in more than 165 countries. GEF funds are contributed by donor countries. In 2002, 32 donor countries pledged $3 billion to fund operations through 2006. At the Fourth GEF Assembly in 2006, an additional $3.13 billion was committed.

Funded by the GEF as a corporate programme, UNDP-GEF SGP is implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on behalf of the GEF partnership, and is executed by the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS). UNDP, the development arm of the United Nations, was designated by the GEF as one of its three Implementing Agencies. Specifically, the UNDP-GEF supports the development of projects in the environmental focal areas of biodiversity, climate change, international waters, and ozone depletion. The new focal areas of persistent organic pollutants and land degradation were approved at the GEF Assembly meetings held from 16-18 October 2002. On behalf of the GEF partnership, UNDP-GEF also manages two corporate programmes, the Small Grants Programme, and the Country Dialogue Workshops.