The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) have launched the fifth operational phase of a $4.5-million grant facility that aims to support the initiatives of non-government organizations and local community groups on biodiversity conservation.
The fifth operational phase of the Global Environment Facility-Small Grants Program (SGP-5) in the Philippines is the continuation of the grant-making program that provides up to $50,000 per project for improving management of protected and production areas, as well as promoting the well-being of communities that depend on biodiversity.
Established in 1992, the small grants program is now being implemented in 125 countries. The Philippines is one of the pilot countries to support local community actions that fight global warming, pollution of international waters, destruction of biological diversity, depletion of the ozone layer, land degradation and prevalence of persistent organic pollutants.
Lawyer Rodolfo Ferdinand Quicho Jr., SGP-5 country program manager, said the UNDP recently upgraded the Philippines’ status, elevating implementation of the program to the national level.
“A big difference is, whereas its predecessors were just part of the global program, SGP-5 is now a national program. This means that SGP-5 follows a program of action that is tailor-made for the Philippines,” Quicho said during the program launch on Wednesday.
With the upgrade in the implementation, the Philippines will also enjoy a higher grant budget of $4.5 million from the previous $1.8 million.
SGP-5 aims to improve the sustainability of protected areas through community-based actions by building effective models for community-based governance, and mainstream biodiversity conservation and sustainable use in the management of production landscapes and seascapes by local stakeholders through eco-friendly agriculture, fisheries, forestry, tourism and other industries.
Quicho said SGP-5 also aims to empower stakeholders to understand global environmental programs and develop local solutions.
“Despite the valuable knowledge of local communities in managing natural resources, there is a need to strengthen them not only by giving them funding support but also harnessing their technical knowledge to enable them to cope with the complexities of biodiversity conservation,” he added.
The Philippines hosts more than 52,000 species of recorded flora and fauna (and many more are being discovered), many of which are found nowhere else, making the country one of 17 megadiverse countries in the world.
Many communities—especially poor farmers, fishermen and indigenous peoples—depend on biodiversity for their livelihood. Biodiversity plays a big role in providing ecological services, such as food, water, air and medicines, that support rural and urban populations.
“Local communities protect biodiversity as a matter of survival. Having maintained, while depending on, natural resources for several generations, they are arguably the best managers of these resources,” Amelia Supetan, team leader of the Energy and Environment Unit of UNDP-Philippines, said.
“This is especially true in the case of many indigenous peoples, who have pursued their traditional resource use practices through hundreds of years,” Supetan added.