At times, it is not the large grants that fosters sustainable development, but smaller grants that can provide targeted improvements for communities. The Beijing Forestry Society took at multiple points advantage of the GEF Small Grants Programme to address certain problems like the high consumption of fuelwood or waste recycling that were hindering the sustainable management of the Miyun watershed.
Established in 1992, the Small Grants Programme (SGP) is a joint programme of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The idea is that it is most effective to address global environmental challenges through community-based and civil society led initiatives, which will lead to sustainable environmentally friendly livelihoods. The GEF SGP provides grants up to $50,000 and technical support directly to local communities for projects. It is expected that by this funding local communities will change their daily habits and establish activities that will contribute to biodiversity conservation, climate change mitigation and adaptation, land degradation prevention, promotion of sustainable forest management and capacity development, protection of international waters and the removal of certain chemicals. Those projects aim to restore and conserve the natural environment while promoting sustainable livelihoods at communities that are most vulnerable to global environmental threats. The GEF SGP is therefore a demonstration that community-based approaches can lead to global environmental protection and sustainable development. GEF SGP projects are small-scaled and provide valuable information about innovative developmental approaches and solutions on the ground. When successful those projects are used as exemplars for repetition and scaling up. Results of the GEF SGP are presented in an annual report, where various community led community led innovations are described. So far, the GEF SGP has funded more than 14,500 community-led projects in 132 countries (1, 2, 3, 4).
China was officially included into the GEF SGP in 2006 and there have been two main projects (here and here) regarding forestry communities around the Miyun Reservoir Watershed funded by the GEF SGP and implemented by the Beijing Forestry Society (BFS) due to Miyun’s importance as a drinking water source for Beijing.
The first GEF SGP project was the ‘Capacity Development for Forestry Communities to Address Climate Change in the Miyun Reservoir Watershed’ project which lasted from March 2010 to March 2011 and was located in Sancha Village in Huairou District. The project aimed to mitigate climate change through enhancing the forest’s carbon sequestration capacity and promoting a resource-saving and energy-efficient life-style within this forestry community. Project activities included energy efficiency improvement of rural suburban households including the reconstruction of energy-inefficient hypocausts and traditional hollow brick beds (kang) to energy-saving ones, which led to reduced firewood utilization and reduced CO2 emissions. Annual demand for firewood could be reduced to 20% of the original need. Furthermore, technical trainings on building and using aerial hypocausts, sustainable firewood collection, carbon sequestration-oriented forest management and close-to-nature management were given. Workshops on climate change contributed to environmental awareness raising to combat climate change. Also expert proposals were submitted to related local governmental department. The project was completed satisfactorily and contributed to climate change mitigation as well as to more sustainable livelihoods within rural areas in Beijing. More tourists have already been attracted due to the improved ecological environment enhancing the potential for eco-tourism in that area.
The second GEF SGP project is the ‘Forestry Community Addressing Climate Change at Shichangyu Village’ project lasting from October 2014 to September 2016 and located at Shichangyu Village. Apart from inefficient utilization of forest and agricultural resources and lack of infrastructure, the development of this area is impeded since many well-educated young residents have moved to urban areas. This project aims to enhance the climate change awareness, foster the development of this local forest community by reforestation, and establish facilities for waste recycling. This still on-going project provides trainings and workshops on climate change, and carbon sequestration-oriented forest management, which will increase the community’s capacity to mitigate climate change and to improve the multi-functionality of the forest, including its carbon sequestration and water conservation ability. Facilities, such as a forest waste recycling demonstration site and a forest culture experience and exhibition centre are currently being built. The latter serves to demonstrate forest functions and environmental protection to the general public and local residents. Thereby, eco-tourism is stimulated which will enhance the development of this village and contribute to the livelihood improvement of local people (5, 6, 7, 8).
Recommendation: Make use of Revolving Funds
It is very important to sustain activities after a phase-out of a project. A self-financing concept of revolving funds, the way they have been used in MLUP BAITONG’s project ‘Community Forest Management and Livelihood Improvement’ in Cambodia, could contribute to empower forestry communities to build up their capacities and capital in order to develop more sustainable livelihoods. The idea is to establish a Community Forest (CF) that will protect a part of the forest and be used sustainably. Revolving funds groups are set up by the project in order to collect financial resources which local people can use to develop small businesses and to actively manage and protect the forests. Although the conditions of this project are quite distinct from Miyun, BFS and other Chinese organizations could make use of the concept of revolving funds how they have been used in this project (12, 13).
Sources and Further Reading:
- GEF SGP (2016) GEF-SGP
- World Bank (2016) GEF Small Grants Programme
- The GEF (2015) Results from the GEF Small Grants Programme
- GEF SGP (2016)
- BFS (2016) ‘GEF 2010 Small Grants Programme – Capacity Development for Forestry Communities to Address Climate Change’
- BFS (2016) ‘GEF 2014 Small Grants Programme – Forestry Community Addressing Climate Change at Shichangyu Village’
- GEF SGP (2016) ‘Capacity Development for Forestry Communities to Address Climate Change in the Miyun Reservoir Watershed’
- GEF SGP (2016) ‘Community Addressing Climate Change at Shichangyu Village of Beijing’
- European Commission (2016) ‘Manejo Sostenible de Bosques en la Región Amazónica de Bolivia’
- European Commission (2016) ‘Explotación forestal’
- The GEF (2016) ‘Sustainable production of walnuts to improve forest cover, resilience and livelihoods’
- European Commission (2016) ‘Community Forest Management and Livelihood Improvement (CFMLI) Project’
- MLUP Baitong (2016) ‘Revolving Fund provides Income for Community Forestry’