What we do
Environmental degradation such as destruction of ecosystems and the species that depend upon them, increasing levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in our atmosphere, pollution of international waters, land degradation and the spread of harmful chemicals are life-threatening challenges that endanger local communities. People who work, live, and have businesses in a community, have a common interest in protecting their shared environment and quality of life. They depend on access to natural resources for their livelihoods and often live in fragile ecosystems.
In Armenia, biodiversity conservation is applied mostly in Specially Protected Areas, which constitute about 10 percent of the territory and 60 percent of biodiversity species. More than 80 percent of lands are exposed to degradation, including contamination by chemicals and heavy metals. Despite the high cost of energy carriers in the country, the great potential of solar energy is not adequately utilized.
To enhance local capacity for addressing global environmental issues through community-based approaches and actions, the Global Environment Facility’s (GEF) Small Grants Programme (SGP) in Armenia is:
·Helping to improve sustainability of existing and new protected areas through community-based actions;
·Supporting rural communities in mainstreaming biodiversity conservation and sustainable use in production landscapes and sectors;
·Enhancing capacity of local communities to apply low-carbon technologies;
·Investing in conservation and enhancement of carbon stocks in forest and non-forest lands;
·Introducing integrated natural resource management and sustainable land use practices to mitigate land degradation;
·Enhancing capacities of local communities to protect transboundary water bodies;
·Contributing to improvement of local capacities to safely manage persistent organic pollutants and other harmful chemicals; and
·Enhancing capacities of communities and civil society to implement global environmental convention guidelines.
SGP promotes gender equality and women’s empowerment as a critical cross-cutting element of its work. A large portion of SGP projects, that include an element of nature-based businesses as an alternative income activity, is led by women.
Some results so far
SGP Armenia ensured replication and scaled-up of eight projects on introduction of energy efficient measures and use of renewable energy sources. As a result, emission of at least 450 tons of CO2 annually is decreased or avoided by application of solar energy technologies and less energy consumption/improved energy efficiency in the housing sector and demonstration of solar driers as alternative to traditionally used gas and electric ovens.
SGP country programme ensured protection of 18 and 62 significant species, registered in the IUCN and National Red Data Book respectively, 4 Important Bird Areas, as well as rehabilitation and sustainable management of at least 7,000 hectares of farmlands and grasslands.
More than 120,000 hectares of Protected Areas were influenced and 56,800 hectares of significant ecosystems are with improved conservation status. Besides, annually about 18 tons of land-based pollution is prevented from entering into the groundwater aquifer (international water body) through application of innovative small-scale wastewater treatment technology.
SGP Armenia promoted awareness raising on reduction of the use of POPs and toxic chemicals in agriculture, their hazardous impact as well as demonstrating sustainable alternatives to them in at least 15 communities. 31 farmers in 8 communities changed behaviors and started up with small scale bio-humus production.
Through SGP efforts at least 4 tons of plastic waste are being reused annually.
SGP facilitated policy influence at regional and national levels resulting in a number of decisions on ecotourism, biodiversity conservation, sustainable land and plastic waste management in 11 urban and village communities. 5 SGP projects greatly influenced government’s sectoral policy-making and formulation (Agenda 21; INDC, etc.); in 2 communities Local Environmental Action Plans were adopted.
At least 10,000 households directly benefited from SGP projects and over 1,000 people received permanent and/or temporary jobs in more than 70 rural communities.
The SGP served a delivery mechanism for EU-funded initiative on “Strengthening Environmental Governance by Building the Capacity of Non-Governmental Organizations” aiming to promote sustainable development and improved environmental management through more effective civil society participation in environmental governance.