GEF Small Grants Programme (GEF SGP)

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I.R. Iran was the 54th country that joined the programme in in GEF and it has recently finished the GEF5 funding phase and is starting the GEF6.

Community ownership is a crucial aspect of GEF’s work which focuses on different areas including climate change, biodiversity, prevention of land degradation, conservation of international water bodies, and reduction of chemical pollution.

Multi-focal area projects are more relevant to the community orientation of the projects. The Iran GEF SGP programme has worked in the Caspian, Persian Gulf, Zagros and Touran geographic areas and in main UNDP and large GEF project sites. The programme also works with independent environmentalists and academia encouraging quantitative approaches and implementation related research work linking the communities to the academia and vice-versa and opening new outlooks for valuing the traditional knowledge of local people.



What Have We Accomplished So Far

Since 2001, GEF Small Grants Programme Iran (GEF SGP) implemented by UNDP, has worked to build ecosystem resilience and pilots for participatory practices.  Iran as the 54th country that joined the global programme, has been active in participatory conservation and revitalization of globally important habitats. This work is accomplished through community action and multi-stakeholder approaches including community and marginalized groups with ancestral knowledge. At  the time when very little participatory literature and actual experiences were available in the country, GEF SGP helped the NGOs and CBOs planning and funding  240 projects in  various geographic locations habited by diverse ethnic groups. The human resources, facilitators and the participatory literature all had to be slowly developed for the mainstream to recognize and work with the ecological and knowledge based groups.  A new era for environmental and development NGOs started with SGP, moving from an advocacy phase to real implementation and real life experiences in the field.

The programme has developed thematic cluster projects and network of grantees. The thematic clusters designed for greater impact include community-based forestry and pasture management, participatory conservation  of wildlife and plant species, community-based ecotourism, eco-agriculture and integrated pest management (IP and IPCM)), indigenous and community conserved areas (ICCAs), marine and coastlines, wetlands and water and renewable energies and energy efficiency.

Re-empowerment of the people and communities living in ecologically valuable site and the projects have formed eight thematic clusters in the SGP Iran programme. Projects may fall under few thematic clusters and have overlapping issues. The projects have been sustained through linkages to culture based livelihoods and human development. 

Community mobilization has been demonstrated to be a success route in development projects, opening the way to empowerment and decision making on the environment and resources management.

In the wildlife and plant species GEF SGP has worked on at least 17 animals, 12 vegetation species demonstrating a participatory approach to conservation.

Community owned innovations:

  • Wheel of facing drought  for facing impacts of climate change by mixing herding and agriculture.
  • Evolutionary grain breeding for facing climate change by two of the SGP Grantees.
  • Pyramid artificial reefs.
  • Community pearl culturing by local fishermen.
  • Art for conservation as an entry point in engaging the communities (Handicraft).
  • Galazani in Kurdistan oak forests (Legalizing the correct  technique).
  • Traditional knowledge on pest management for different crops (reintroducing them through IPM work).
  • Partnering with private sector and promoting the technology and speeding up its adoption and training service men in automated heating & cooling control systems for buildings resulting in 20 to 40% reduction in utility costs.
  • First automated biodiesel reactors in the country to convert waste oil to biodiesel has been fully developed. An education center has become operational in Tehran University.

Who Finances It

GEF SGP in I.R. Iran was funded from SGP Core funds in Phases 2 and 3, from GEF Resource Allocation Framework (RAF) in phase 4 and currently in phase 5 from GEF System for the Transparent Allocation Resource (STAR). In addition, grantees and their partners need to provide cofounding for the projects.



Delivery and Allocation


Project Overview
Project Start Date:
Estimated End Date:
Project is On-going
National Coverage:
Caspian, Persian Gulf, Zagros and Touran geographic areas
Focus Area:
Biodiversity, Land Degragation and Climate Change
1 & 7
National Coordinator:
Laleh Daraie
NGOs, COBs & CSos
GEF SGP Thematic Areas

The Thematic clusters bring a number of GEF Focal Areas and Geographic regions together, and help to build on the potentials that develop in the programme. The clustering form around existing projects and grow based on the Country Programme Strategy of the programme in various phases of funding.

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