The GEF Small Grant Programme


The Global Environmental Facility (GEF) is a global partnership among 181 countries, international institutions, NGOs and the private sector that aims to address global environmental issues while supporting national sustainable development initiatives. The GEF was established in 1991 and serves as an independent financial mechanism to assist countries in fulfilling their obligations under the following Conventions they have signed and ratified: Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), and the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.

Small Grants Programme (SGP) is a corporate programme of the GEF that was launched in 1992 and is currently implemented in over 125 countries. It specifically invests in the development of communities and civil society organisations impacted by the effects of environmental degradation. The work that has been done by the GEF SGP supported projects has contributed to the environmental conservation by local communities particularly on environmental conservation and climate change mitigation which has had the added benefit of meeting the global environmental benefits.

In South Africa, the SGP started in 2001 and since then it has supported over  100 projects to the value of over USD$ 4,5 million and co-financing (cash & in-kind) of over US$8 million in 2016. The national focal point of the GEF and SGP is the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), which is responsible for the general oversight of the programme and is the custodian of GEF Funds. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) implements the programme while the National Steering Committee and the programme staff coordinate the country programme.


Programme Purpose


Programme purpose

The purpose of the SGP programme is to provide financial support to community based organizations and other stakeholders for the implementation of environment projects that contribute to environmental sustainability, economic and social development.


The SGP funding is available to registered civil society organisations i.e. non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and Community Based Organizations (CBOs) who work towards the achievement of environmental sustainability for local and global benefit. Each successful applicant is eligible to financial support of up to USD$ 50 000 per project.

Programme Portfolio in since 2001

Over 105 project have been supported through the GEF SGP funds with 53 projects under the biodiversity management focal area, 14 in land degradation and sustainable forest management focal area; 20 in the climate change focal area; 5 in the chemicals focal area; 2 in international waters focal area, 1 on capacity development and 10 were multifocal. The geographic spread was as follows: 29 projects were implemented in Kwa-Zulu Natal, 14 in the Eastern Cape, 13 in Limpopo, 5 in Western Cape, 6 in Mpumalanga, 2 in Gauteng, 1 in Free State, 9 in North West, 3 in Northern Cape and 14 projects were multi-provincial.



GEF SGP OP5 Programme Results

GEF SGP Operational Phase 6 (2014 - 2018)

The SGP global goal for GEF 6 is to: “Effectively support the creation of global environmental benefits and the safeguarding of the local environment through community and local solutions that complement and add value to the national and global level action.”

During the 6th Operational Phase, SGP grant-making will prioritise the following multifocal initiatives:

  1. Climate-smart innovative agroecology;

  2. Low-carbon energy access;

  3. Community-based land and water conservation;

  4. Local to global chemicals management; and

  5. Supporting CSO-government dialogue platforms.

Further details on the Country Programme Strategy and focal areas supported by the Programme in 6th Operational Phase of the GEF - GEF 6 (2015 -2018) can be accessed here. As part of the global strategic direction of the SGP and the CPS for OP6, SGP South Africa identified the Vhembe Biosphere Reserve (VBR) in Limpopo in consultation with the National Steering Committee (NSC) and other stakeholders as the priority landscape to receive 70% of the GEF 6 funding, with the remaining 30% earmarked for projects outside the landscape across the country. 7 projects falling outside the landscape area were approved by the National Steering Committee in April 2016. A call for proposals for projects within the landscape will be made early in 2017.

For more information contact:

SGP National Coordinator

Anele Moyo (Ms) Tel: +27(0) 12 354 8166, Fax: +27(0) 12 354 8058/9

SGP Programme Assistant

Motsei Choabi (Ms) Tel: +27(0) 12 354 8155, Fax: +27(0) 12 354 8058/9

GEF SGP South Africa email:

GEF SGP Global Website email:

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