The Third Joint Evaluation of the Small Grants Programme (SGP), conducted by the Independent Evaluation Offices of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), was presented at the GEF’s 60th Council meeting and at UNDP’s Executive Board meeting in June 2021, as SGP reaches the milestone of 30 years of implementation amid unprecedented global environmental and public health crises.

SGP had been jointly assessed by the independent evaluation offices of the GEF and UNDP in 2008 and 2015. This third joint evaluation covered the period between July 2014 and December 2019, with the objective of building on the findings of and evaluating progress made since the second joint evaluation. It also aimed to report on the relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, and sustainability of the SGP at both global and local levels.

The evaluation reaffirmed that SGP continues to be highly relevant to the evolving environmental priorities at all levels. As a global programme that channels GEF and non-GEF resources to civil society and community-based organizations through a highly inclusive approach, SGP acts as key modality through which small-scale, local organizations can access GEF and other resources.

The evaluation also informed that SGP shows high levels of coherence with the GEF programmatic framework and UNDP mandate, demonstrating that it is possible to maintain internal programmatic coherence across 126 countries. It also highlighted that SGP has been consistent in its delivery of environmental results at local, national, and global levels and in generating economic and social benefits.

Moreover, SGP quickly responded to COVID-19 by aligning its efforts with the UNDP and GEF strategies to address the devastating impacts of the pandemic, serving as their de facto local community action window. Besides immediate response and relief efforts addressing food insecurity, SGP used its grantee networks to distribute personal protective equipment, provided localized national health guidance, and supported mobilization and improved capacity of civil society to self-support during these unprecedented times.

The evaluation also recognized SGP’s innovative way of working with local partners, with a flexibility that enables it to adapt to local circumstances. Finally, it found that the improvements made to SGP’s overall monitoring and evaluation framework have been significant, and that more could be done to leverage its benefits in future.

The full report, along with the management response by the GEF and UNDP to the Third Joint GEF-UNDP Evaluation of the SGP can be downloaded here. An illustrated summary of the report is also available here.