MIL-OSI Translation: Small solutions, big impacts: 5 community projects to fight climate change


MIL OSI Translation. Region: France and French Territories –

Source: United Nations – in French 2

Headline: Small solutions, big impacts: 5 community projects to fight climate change

In early April, 29 countries pledged more than $5 billion to the UN-backed Global Environment Facility (GEF). The Fund said it was “record support, giving a major boost to international efforts to protect biodiversity and tackle threats from climate change, plastics and toxic chemicals”.

But why this fund? The GEF is a multilateral fund and serves as the financial mechanism for several environmental conventions, including the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity.

It has its own small grants program that awards up to $50,000 directly to local communities, including indigenous peoples, community organizations and other non-governmental groups investing in projects related to healing our planet.

The initiative is implemented in 127 countries by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) which provides technical support to these selected local projects that preserve and restore the environment while improving well-being and livelihoods. subsistence of the people.

Here at UN News, we shine a spotlight on five of the more than 25,000 projects implemented since 1992, the year the GEF began working. Although the Fund’s projects span the globe, this list features some initiatives currently improving the future of humanity and wildlife in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Indigenous women engineers bring light to rural Belize


Three Mayan engineers who brought electricity to villages in Belize.

For city dwellers, it is sometimes hard to believe that in 2022 there are still communities that do not have electricity, but more than 500 million people in the world do not have access to this type of service that many consider it “basic”.

That’s the reality for residents of Belize’s Toledo District, where several rural villages are far from the national power grid, making it difficult – and expensive – to electrify their communities.

However, through a partnership funded by the GEF Small Grants Program (SGP), three Mayan female engineers are installing solar power systems and contributing to sustainable development in small indigenous communities in southern Belize.

Florentina Choc, Miriam Choc and Cristina Choc, were trained by Barefoot College in India to build and repair small solar home systems as part of a South-South cooperation exchange (Southern countries sharing technical knowledge with their counterparts, without a developed country being involved).

“These women are breaking the glass ceiling! They have installed solar systems in four indigenous communities reaching more than 1,000 inhabitants,” says Leonel Requena, national coordinator of SGP Belize.

In 2021, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, these female engineers, along with national authorities and partners, installed these solar power systems in two of Belize’s most remote communities.

With the work in just one of these villages, Graham Creek, they supplied 25 houses benefiting more than 150 inhabitants, as well as a primary school with 30 children.

Additionally, the UNDP estimates that it helped avoid 6.5 tonnes of carbon emissions.

“Women are outstanding leaders in Belize who drive the sustainable development agenda promoting harmony between nature and people for the benefit of both,” adds Mr. Requena.

Making Barbados a Tortoise Conservation Champion

Unsplash/Jakob Owens

Sea turtles swim in the sea.

Did you know that extreme temperatures during heat waves fueled by climate change literally cook baby turtles in their nests?

Tortoises are listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as critically endangered as their population declines worldwide.

For centuries they have been hunted for their eggs and meat and now they are also threatened by coastal development and climate change.

But a small grant 20 years ago has turned into a big opportunity to allow this species to thrive on the Caribbean island of Barbados.

The Barbados Sea Turtle Project, based on the University of the West Indies campus, is home to the regional sea turtle tagging center and the wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network.

Tagging turtles helps scientists and conservationists track their movements, calculate their growth rate, survival rate, and reproductive rate.

Barbados is currently home to the second largest nesting population of hawksbill turtles in the Caribbean, with up to 500 nesting females per year. Turtle nesting occurs on most beaches on the island, which like many in the region are heavily developed with tourist infrastructure.

The Barbados Sea Turtle Project tags these creatures, measures them, archives and analyzes data from more than 30 coordinated projects in the region. These research projects inform their conservation activities.

Each August when the baby turtles are born, project porters are on call seven days a week to respond to emergencies that could include hatchlings straying in the wrong direction or to prepare for swells that can sweep the turtles away. nests during hurricane season.

The project promoters also help communities to promote ecotourism based on best practices, which is a source of income for local communities.

Barbados is now well known for its successful sea turtle conservation activities. The degree of recovery of the hawksbill population so far allows the interns to work with large numbers of turtles and address the challenges posed by coastal development.

The project recently received a new small GEF grant of $46,310.

“Through this grant, [this project has] been able to offer people involved in other sea turtle projects in the region the opportunity to be trained alongside BSTP volunteers in a South-South exchange. … The ongoing work of the project is integral to the conservation and protection of threatened and endangered sea turtles, their terrestrial and marine habitats,” said Karen Harper, SGP Barbados Program Assistant.

Helping Indigenous Venezuelan Families Mitigate Amazon Rainforest Degradation

UNDP/SGP Venezuela

Displaced indigenous families in Venezuela learn how to restore forests.

Puerto Ayacucho is the capital and largest city of Amazonas State in southern Venezuela. Its inhabitants include a number of local indigenous tribes, including the Yanomami, Panare, Bari, Piaroa, and Guajibo (also known as Jibis).

Many of these populations have been displaced from their lands due to the socio-economic crisis in the country, as well as the presence of armed groups and illegal mining activities.

The Amazonas Originaria project is currently training a group of displaced indigenous families in the sustainable use and care of the rainforests near Puerto Ayacucho. They learn to manage cocoa, cupuaçu, manaca and túpiro crops (all plants native to the Amazon) as well as transform their fruits into pulp, chocolates, baskets and other products.

“This project, in particular, is interesting and inspiring, because it is led by women…it supports the fight against climate change, because its objective is to conserve the Amazon rainforest as the main carbon sink in southern Venezuela, by working hand in hand with indigenous communities, valuing their traditions and protecting their ancestral habitat”, explains Alexis Bermúdez, national coordinator of the SGP.

According to the United Nations Environment Programme, or UNEP, deforestation in the Amazon reduces carbon stocks and alters the regional climate. The effects of climate change, forest degradation and increased forest fires could lead to the disappearance of 60% of the Amazon rainforest by 2050.

The SGP-supported initiative not only trains community members to make eco-friendly by-products and packaging to help them diversify their livelihoods, but at the same time works to restore parts of degraded rainforest by replanting trees and other species.

“When families pass on this knowledge, we give indigenous communities the strength and confidence to face the conservation of their culture and environment, we organize the community for the production and marketing of their products in specific markets and contribute directly to the creation of a sustainable economy,” notes Kenia Martinez of Amazonas Originaria.

Exchange ideas to make tourism greener and more sustainable

UNDP/SGP Costa Rica

Leaders of the tourism sector in Mexico, Colombia, Panama and Costa Rica come together to exchange best practices.

Clearly, climate change and environmental degradation cannot be fought by one community alone. On the contrary, unity is strength when we talk about exchanging ideas that have already been proven.

The Latin American Knowledge Dialogue around Community Tourism project brings together community tourism businesses from Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia and Mexico to exchange experiences and best practices.

Tourism is the backbone of some economies and the source of income for many people, especially those living in developing countries, but if mismanaged it often puts pressure on natural resources through the through overconsumption, puts pressure on local land use, and increases pollution and loss of natural habitat.

Community tourism, meanwhile, is an economic alternative that allows local communities to generate additional income to their main productive activities while protecting and enhancing the natural and cultural wealth of their territories.

“Alone, we go faster, but together, we go further”, underlines Beatriz Schmitt, national coordinator of the SGP Panama.

The dialogues supported by the SGP consisted of virtual trainings and exchanges of good practices with 23 rural organizations focusing on local development, collaborative working networks, marketing, institutional perspective and biosafety protocols.

At the end of the virtual training, participants visited community tourism experiences in Costa Rica where the program has been promoting rural tourism for 20 years and has established a solid institutional framework.

“Community tourism is a local strategy that brings income to rural communities. This project is important because tourism is not approached solely as a business, but rather, it stems from the experiences of conserving the lands where these communities live,” Viviana Rodriguez, SGP program assistant in Panama, told UN News.

She adds that by conserving these areas for tourism and reducing other activities such as large-scale agriculture, small communities are also helping to fight climate change.

Saving Colombia’s water-rich paramos, with the involvement of women

Unsplash/Michael Lechner

Paramo is a type of tundra – cold, wet and windy – concentrated in the northern Andes above the tree line, from Venezuela to northern Peru

Colombia’s paramos, ecosystems of the Andes tundra located above the treeline but below the snowline, occupy only 1.7% of the national territory, but produce 85% of its drinking water.

Guardianas de los Páramos (Paramos Women Guardians) is an alliance between the GEF Small Grants Program and two organizations that support a variety of community-based projects focused on conservation and climate change adaptation in Paramos Pisba and TotaBijagual-Mamapacha, about 280 km northeast of Bogotá.

The alliance places special emphasis on women’s participation because historically, women’s involvement in environmental management has been reduced due to discrimination and inequitable access to resources.

A total of 37 projects were selected benefiting 2,400 families who had been working since 2020 to restore native plants, strengthening biological corridors and maintaining protected areas.

Initiatives also include the adaptation of aqueducts, as well as the establishment of agro-ecological gardens to reduce the use of traditional production systems that are harmful to the environment.

“It is necessary to implement actions to control or reduce the pressures on the paramo and to mitigate the negative actions of extractive activities in the region, establishing conservation areas and measures to reduce the risks associated with the change change,” says Catalina Avella, the alliance’s field coordinator.

The paramos are a unique Andean ecosystem, found only in the high mountains of northern South America, they are strategic not only because of their plant and animal biodiversity but also for their ecosystem services, including the soil carbon sequestration and water regulation.

Rising temperatures and changes in rainfall patterns due to climate change pose a threat to these ecosystems, as well as to mining and infrastructure projects.

Beautiful projects, aren’t they? How can you get involved?

UN News/Laura Quinones

Young climate activists take part in protests during the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland.

If you have a project related to mitigating climate change, reversing land degradation, sustainable forest management or protecting biodiversity, visit the Small Grants Program website where you can find out how to apply according to your country.

SGP grants are made directly to community organizations and non-governmental organizations in recognition of the key role they play as a resource and interest group on environment and development issues. The maximum grant amount per project is $50,000, but averages around $25,000.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and/or sentence structure not be perfect.

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