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Five community-based climate change projects: Small solutions that have big impacts|
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Five community-based climate change projects: Small solutions that have big impacts|

The three Mayan solar engineers who are bringing electricity to rural villages in Belize.


29 countries pledged $5 billion to the UN-backed Global Environment Facility (GEF) in April.GEF). The Fund said this was “record support, providing a International efforts to conserve biodiversity and reduce climate change threats, plastics, and toxic chemicals receive a major boost”.

Why such a big boost? The GEF is a multilateral, multilateral fund that serves as a financial instrument for many environmental conventions, including the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (UN Convention on Biological Diversity).

It has its own identity. Small Grants Program (SGP) These grants can be given directly to local communities, including to indigenous peoples and community-based organizations.

The UN Development Program implements the initiative across 127 countries (UNDP) which provides technical support to these selected local projects that conserve and restore the environment while enhancing people’s wellbeing and livelihoods.

UN News wants to emphasize this. Just fiveThe GEF has implemented over 25,000 projects since 1992, when it was founded. Though the Fund’s projects span the globe, this list features a few initiatives currently improving the future of humankind and wildlife in Latin-America and the Caribbean.

 1. Indigenous women solar engineers bringing light to rural Belize

The three Mayan solar engineers who are bringing electricity to rural villages in Belize.


The three Mayan solar engineers who bring electricity to rural Belize.

For people living in cities is sometimes hard to believe that in 2022 there are still communities that don’t have electricity, but more than 500 million people worldwide don’t have access to this kind of service that many consider ‘basic’.

This is the reality for people in the District of Toledo, in Belize, where several rural villages lie far away from the national electricity grid making it hard – and costly – to electrify their communities.

However, we are grateful to Partnership funded by the GEF’s Small Grants Program (SGP), three Mayan women solar engineers are installing solar energy systems and contributing to sustainable development in small indigenous communities in Southern Belize.

The Barefoot College in India trained Florentina Choc (Miriam Choc) and Cristina Choc to build and repair small household solar panels as part of a program called “An Introduction to Solar Energy”. South-South cooperationExchange (Countries from the Global South share technical knowledge with each other, without any developed country involved).

These women are breaking down the glass ceiling! They have installed solar systems to four indigenous communities impacting over 1000 residents,” says Leonel Requena, SGP Belize National Coordinator.

Despite the ongoing…” COVID-19 pandemic, these solar engineers, along with national authorities and partners installed these solar energy systems to two of Belize’s most remote communities.

This is just one village that you can help. Graham CreekThey powered 25 homes, which provided shelter for over 150 people, and a primary school that educated 30 children.

UNDP claims they have helped a staggering 87 percent of the population. Carbon emissions can be avoided by reducing carbon emissions by 6.5 tons

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

2. Turning Barbados into a champion of Hawksbill turtles’ conservation

Sea turtle slowly swiming in blue water through sunlight.

Unsplash/Jakob Owens

Sea turtles slowly swimming in blue water, despite the sun.

Did you know that extreme heatwaves fueled by climate change can lead to extreme temperatures? Literally, you can cook baby turtles inside their nest?

The Hawksbill sea Turtles are classified by International Union for Conservation of NatureAs their population decreases around the globe, they are also becoming increasingly endangered.

They have been hunted for their meat and eggs for thousands of years. Now, they are at risk from climate change and coastal development, as well as other threats.

A small grant from Barbados 20 years ago was a huge opportunity for this species’ survival in the Caribbean.

The Barbados Sea Turtle Project, based at the University of the West Indies’ Campus, is the home of the regional Marine Turtle Tagging Centre and the wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network.

Scientists and conservationists can track turtle movements and calculate their survival rates, growth, and reproductive output by tagging them.

Barbados currently has the second largest Hawksbill turtle nesting colony in the Caribbean. There are up to 500 females nesting each year. Most of the beaches on the island are suitable for turtle nesting.

The Barbados Sea Turtle Project tags and measures these animals and archives the data for more than 30 regionally coordinated projects. These research projects help inform conservation activities.

The project runners are available seven days a week to respond in an emergency to hatchlings who wander off or that could be caused by hurricane season.

The project runners help communities promote ecotourism using best practices. This creates a source for income for the local communities.

Barbados is well-known for its success in sea turtle conservation. Because the Hawksbill population has been recovering to a large extent, trainees can work with large numbers and face the challenges of extensive coastal development.

The GEF awarded $46,310 in a small grant to the well-known project.

“Thanks to this grant [this project has] been able to offer persons from other sea turtle projects in the region the opportunity to be trained alongside BSTP volunteers in a South-to-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, Programme Assistant of SGP in Barbados.

3. Helping Venezuelan Indigenous Families Reduce the Degradation of the Amazon Forest

Indigenous displaced families in Venezuela are learning to restore native forests while using their products to improve their livelihoods.

UNDP/SGP Venezuela

Venezuelan indigenous displaced families are learning how to restore their native forests and use their products to improve the quality of their lives.

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

Many of these people were forced from their land by the socioeconomic crisis and the presence armed groups and illegal mining.

The project Amazonas Originaria A group of indigenous displaced people is currently being trained to manage and care for the rainforests in the area of Puerto Ayacucho. They are learning how to manage crops of cocoa, cupuaçu, manaca and túpiro (all amazon native plants) as well as how to transform their fruits into pulp, chocolates, baskets and other products.

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

According to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), or UNEP, in the Amazon, the world’s largest remaining tropical rainforest, deforestation is reducing carbon stocks and altering the regional climate. The effects of climate change, forest degradation and more forest fires could result in 60 per cent of the Amazon rainforest disappearing by 2050.

The SGP-supported project not only trains the community to make Amazon products and eco packaging, helping them diversify and diversify their livelihoods but it also works to restore some of the tropical forest’s degraded areas by replanting native trees.

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

4. Ideas exchanged to make tourism more sustainable and eco-friendly

Leaders of community tourism in Mexico, Colombia, Panama and Costa Rica got together to exchange good practices.

UNDP/SGP Costa Rica

Leaders from community tourism in Mexico and Costa Rica met to exchange best practices.

Clearly, climate change and environmental degradation can´t be tackled by a single community, instead, unity is strength when we talk about exchanging ideas that have already proven successful.

The project Dialogue of Latin American knowledge around Community Tourism Bringing together community tourism ventures from Costa Rica and Panama, Colombia, Colombia, and Mexico to share experiences and best practices.

Tourism is the backbone for some economies and a source of income for many people, particularly those in developing countries. However, if it is not managed well, it can put pressure on natural resources through overconsumption and induce stress on local land use. This can also increase pollution and natural habitat loss.

On the other hand, community tourism is an alternative economic option that allows local communities generate additional income from their main productive activities while at the same time protecting and valuing the natural and cultural heritage of their territory.

“Alone we go faster, but together we go further,” Beatriz Schmitt, SGP Panama National Coordinator highlights.

The SGP-supported dialogues included virtual trainings and exchanges of good practices with 23 rural organizations. They were focused on local development, collaborative work networks, marketing, institutional perspectives, and biosafety protocols.

Participants visited Costa Rica’s community tourism experiences after the virtual training. This programme has been supporting rural tourism in Costa Rica for over 20 years and has created a strong institutional framework.

“Community tourism is a local strategy that brings income to rural communities. This project is important because tourism is not approached only as a business but instead, it is derived from experiences of land conservation where these communities live,” Viviana Rodriguez, SGP Programme Assistant in Panama tells UN News.

She also stated that small communities can contribute to the fight against climate changes by conserving these areas for tourism, and reducing other agricultural activities.

5. Save the water-rich Paramos of Colombia with a gender twist

Páramo is a type of alpine moorland—cold, wet and windy—concentrated in the northern Andes above the treeline from Venezuela through Northern Peru.

Unsplash/Michael Lechner

Páramo is a type of alpine moorland—cold, wet and windy—concentrated in the northern Andes above the treeline from Venezuela through Northern Peru.

Paramos in Colombia, which are tundra ecosystems located in the Andes mountains above the forest line, but below the snowline and occupy only 1.7 percent of the country’s territory, produce 85 percent of the country’s drinking water, and they account for just 1.7 procent of the country’s total territory.

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

The alliance puts special emphasis on women’s participation since historically, the intervention of women in environmental management has been diminished because of discrimination and inequitable access to resources.

There were 37 projects that benefitted 2,400 families, who have been working since 2020 to restore native plant species. This will strengthen biological corridors and preserve areas.

The initiatives also include aqueduct adaption and the implementation of homemade agricultural gardens to reduce the use traditional productive systems that can be harmful to the environment.

“It is necessary to implement actions aimed at controlling or reducing pressures on the paramo and to mitigate negative actions by extractive activities in the area, establishing conservation areas and measures to reduce risks associated with climate change”, says Catalina Avella, the alliance field coordinator.

Paramos is a unique ecosystem of Andean nature, found only in the high mountains of the north, South America. They are strategic because of their plant and animal diversity, but also because of their ecosystem services including carbon sequestration in the soil and water regulation.

These ecosystems are at risk from climate change, which is causing an increase in temperatures and changes to rain patterns. This is in addition to the threat posed by infrastructure and mining projects.

Young climate activists take part in demonstrations at the COP26 Climate Conference in Glasgow, Scotland.

UN News/Laura Quiñones

Young climate activists demonstrate at the COP26 Climate Conference in Glasgow (Scotland).

Aren’t they great projects? How can you get involved in these great projects?

Visit the if you have a project that is related to climate change mitigation, reverse land degradation, sustainable forest management or protecting biodiversity Small Grants ProgramWebsite where you can find out how you can apply depending on your country.

SGP grants can be given directly to community-based or non-governmental organizations, in recognition of their key role as resource and constituency for environmental and development concerns. The maximum grant amount for each project is $50,000, but the average grant amount is around $25,000.


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