14 December 2018: The Global Environment Facility’s (GEF) Small Grant Programme (SGP) is showcasing the role of women as environmental stewards in a series of 13 case studies of “action from the ground up” on biodiversity conservation, chemicals and waste management, climate change, international waters and land degradation.

The publication titled, ‘Women as Environmental Stewards: The Experience of the SGP,’ presents evidence that, when women are empowered and have equal opportunities to contribute to sustainable development, it leads to “concrete benefits for people and planet.” Case studies from Armenia, Belize, China, Colombia, the Gambia, India, Mauritius, Morocco, Paraguay, Peru, Turkey, Uganda and Viet Nam illustrate the importance of challenging gender norms and investing in women’s leadership and technical skills to achieve sustainable development, improved environmental benefits and enhanced well-being for their communities. The examples aim to inspire further innovation at all levels, and to boost interest in and resources for gender equality and women’s empowerment, in support for SDG 5 (gender equality) and other SDGs.

In Armenia, the Berd Women’s Resource Center Foundation worked to conserve the genetic resources of blueberries, hawthorns and barberries while securing employment opportunities for local women, particularly those from economically disadvantaged communities. To reduce pressure on plants in the wild, the project introduced sustainable practices for harvesting planets in the wild, and supported the cultivation of wild berry plants from local forests in women’s gardens. The project also improved women’s knowledge of biodiversity conservation and sustainable agriculture through capacity building workshops and training and resource centers. In the first year, the project’s experimental production of wild berry jams and jellies resulted in an increase of US$300-400 in annual income for participants, and is anticipated to reach US$1,200 in the second year.

In Colombia, a group of local women from five communities collaborated to address mangrove degradation and its impact on their cockle harvesting. The women established sustainable use agreements, including harvesting closures and monitoring cockle populations, and developed alternative sustainable production activities to maintain income during harvesting closures, such as establishing local bakeries and gardens. The project empowered the women to manage their territory, secured their income during the harvesting season and doubled their income through alternative activities.

The UN Development Programme (UNDP) implements the SGP. [Publication: Women as Environmental Stewards: The Experience of the Small Grants Programme] [Landing Page]