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  GEF NGO Statement on SGP (Agenda Item 9)
GEF-NGO Statement for 36th GEF Council Meeting, 10 November 2009

Dear members of the GEF NGO Network, 

The GEF NGO Network made a statement at the GEF Council meeting on the 10th of November 2009 on the agenda item on the future management arrangements for the GEF Small Grant Programme. We have been actively contributing on this matter for a long time and the current paper reflects many of the points we have lobbied for - such as guaranteed SGP core funds to SIDS and LDCs.

The main issue in the current paper is whether UNOPS should continue to be the key agency in partnership with UNDP to administer the SGP as well as the procedure for the 10 so-called upgraded countries (Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, India, Kenya, Mexico Pakistan, Philippines) which will no longer receive Core funds and will have to seek all their funds from the national allocation through a Full sized project.

With the support of the Council member from Germany we were asked to speak on this item before any of the Council members..

As you can see from our statement - we have emphasised the importance of the Small Grant Programme and the need to maintain and expand the programme in the GEF 5 (2010-2015). We have called for strengthening of the current execution through UNOPS and the development of more flexible options with NGO involvement to be studied further in GEF 5.

We have also called for allocation of a minimum core budget of $200 million which can be supplemented by each country by contributions from its national allocation under the GEF Resource allocation framework.

On the issue of the 10 countries proposed for graduation or Upgrading we have insisted that an appropriate mechanism be put in place to avoid any disruption of the ongoing programmes and loss of the capacity and knowledge of SGP country operations.

We have also called for a more strategic role for the GEF NGO Network in reviewing and monitoring the development of the SGP in coming years.

Following our statement - there were statements from GEF council members from Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Brazil, Ghana, Pakistan, Ethiopia, India, Congo, Gambia, Barbados, Vietnam, China, Australia, Gernany, France, USA, Paraguay, representing almost all of the GEF member countries.

All countries made positive comments on the SGP and many indicated that they fully supported the comments from the Network. There were several comments to state that there should be no limitation to the amount of funds that a country should allocate to the SGP. Our request for a mechanism for a smooth transition in the upgraded countries was very widely supported along with a proposal that a report be made at the time of the next GEF council on the progress and any problems in both facilitating funds for the upgraded countries and also enhancing UNOPS services.

In the final decision of the Council two new elements were included

a) For the first year of GEF 5 all countries to be upgraded will be able to access resources by a simple allocation process by the National GEF Focal point to ensure continuity until funds are available under the proposed full sized project mechanism. 
b) There will be a report to the June 2010 GEF Council to report on progress in preparing the Full sized project for upgrading countries as well as strengthening the execution arrangements under UNOPS.

It is also anticipated that a meeting will be organised by SGP in January 2010 with the SGP steering committee ( on which we are represented) and representatives from upgraded countries to initiate preparation for the transition.

We will post a copy of the final decision on the network website.

Faizal Parish
GEF NGO Network - Central Focal Point
Dated: 11-Nov-2009

------ Attached statement reproduced below -------

GEF-NGO Statement for 36th GEF Council Meeting, 10 November 2009
Agenda Item 9 Small Grants Programme

The GEF NGO Network strongly supports the continuation and expansion of the GEF Small Grants Programme in the GEF 5 period.

We believe that given the importance and success of the SGP, the total funding made available for the SGP in GEF 5 should be substantially increased through a combination of core funds and STAR funds. We believe that there should be a minimum core fund of $200 million minimum under all replenishment scenarios which would provide sufficient resources for a more flexible approach on transition as well as allocations for capacity building and knowledge sharing as well as provide adequate funds for each country.

We believe that there should be a role for the GEF NGO network to work with the SGP steering committee to monitor and guide SGP more effectively

With regard to the Council Paper we have the following main comments

Execution arrangements

  • We recognize that the timeframe for the study for the council paper was short, but we are not satisfied with the methodology and approach that was used in the study which we feel did not include adequate or effective consultation with Civil society or steering committee members and relatively poor design of surveys. 
  • We accept in line with the conclusions, the reality that at this stage UNOPS is the only viable option to provide the programme simultaneously in up to 132 countries – However we do believe that during GEF 5 there should be further assessment to develop alternate options especially in more mature countries. 
  • We believe that for the GEF 5 period in upgraded countries alternatives to UNOPS execution such as execution through NGOs or other institutions should be considered immediately where appropriate. 
  • We believe that there should be a further assessments and monitoring of the efficiency and effectiveness of the arrangements through GEF 5 coordinated under the steering Committee.

Improvement of UNOPS services/support 
We support the proposal that that there should be improvements in the UNOPS services especially in relation to acceptance of co-financing at the programme level, enhancing efficiency in fund disbursement, ensuring sufficient allocation of support staff and services, introduction of risk based auditing procedures.

Upgraded countries 
In principle we support upgrading of countries providing that it results in more resources, flexible institutional arrangements, adaptation to national needs and enhanced capacity and sustainability. However we have raised for some time our concerns about possible risks facing countries to be upgraded. One risk is whether upgraded countries will have sufficient STAR resources to support a free-standing SGP. In addition we feel that the proposal to require the upgraded countries to prepare full-sized projects to obtain resources may be too complex and has several risks. We propose that instead of a complete FSP cycle – that an expedited procedure be developed – by which a relatively simple proposal combined with authorization of the national OFP should be sufficient - this is similar to the procedure being required of the Category I and II countries to obtain additional STAR resources. Such a procedure could be completed relatively quickly and reduce the risk of delays.

Another key concern with regards to “upgrading” of mature country programmes is the timeliness of approval of full size projects during transition. To address this concern we propose the following

  1. A contingency fund be made available to provide bridge finance for the upgrading countries during the first six months or year of the transition, the funds can be returned to the core fund once the “Full size project” funds of each country start flowing. 
  2. The secretariat present a rapid assessment report of the transition of the SGP by the end of July, 2010 to identify and address any problems.

The upgraded countries should play a major role in supporting global SGP activities - but no indication is given on how this will be done - since there will be no allocation of core resources for these countries.

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