Documents for the 24th meeting of the Standing Committee

24th Meeting of the Ramsar Standing Committee
Gland, Switzerland, 29 November-2 December 1999
Agenda item 10.3.i

DOC. SC24-18 (a)

Allocations and operations of the Small Grants Fund

1999 income and project allocations

Action requested: The Standing Committee is requested to receive the report of the Subgroup on Finance relating to this item and make decisions as appropriate.

Income and funds available for allocation

1. As shown in Annex 1, the funds available for allocation to SGF projects in 1999 as of 31 October 1999 amounted to Sfr 491,812. This figure includes Sfr 40,000 allocated for a project at the 21st meeting of the Standing Committee the contract for which has so far not been signed.

2. In Annex 1 appears a footnote relating to the voluntary contribution made in 1999 to the SGF by the USA, following its pledge at Ramsar COP6 in connection with the Convention’s 25th Anniversary. This contribution included SFR 74,000 earmarked for projects relating to coral reefs. Unfortunately, the information regarding the earmarked portion of this contribution was not received until after the call for project submissions had been made, and so it was not possible to advertise this priority area. As a consequence only one of the highest-rated projects (that from Israel) refers directly to coral reefs. Given that the Bureau has rated this project at number 22 for funding, it is proposed that these earmarked funds be held over until the 2000 funding cycle when coral reef-related projects can be specifically invited.

3. With regard to fundraising for the 1999 round of SGF, the Bureau (as it did in 1998) wrote to a number of potential donors in October 1999 soliciting their support. At the Standing Committee meeting, an update will be given on the success, or otherwise, of this attempt to generate further funds for the SGF this year. In addition, WWF also indicated that they may wish to consider funding suitable SGF projects under their Living Waters Campaign, and the Bureau has facilitated their review of several project proposals. Further advice on this will also be given at the Standing Committee meeting.

Project allocations

4. Following the established procedure, the Bureau reviews and ranks the SGF projects in the first instance and this review is then communicated to the Subgroup on Finance, which meets on the day preceding the Standing Committee meeting to consider the Bureau’s advice. In accordance with Decision 20.31 of the 20th Standing Committee Meeting, the project summaries and the Bureau’s recommendations have been provided to the Regional Representatives in the Standing Committee from regions where project proposals have been received, for their consideration and comment. This was done on 8 October with a deadline for comment by the end of October. Any such comments will be passed to the Subgroup on Finance for its consideration.

5. For the 1999 SGF cycle, 81 proposals were considered as administratively complete, including the endorsement of the Ramsar Administrative Authority in each country, and underwent review by the Bureau using the SGF Project Proposal Assessment Form. This form has been developed and refined over the past four funding cycles to provide both structure and objectivity to the way that the Bureau undertakes its assessment and preparation of recommendations for funding. (A copy of the form is included in the SGF Operational Guidelines in Document SC24-18 (b).)

6. It should also be noted that in order to seek equity of allocations among the Ramsar regions, the Bureau has prepared its advice on a region by region basis and used this to formulate its overall recommendation by placing the top projects from each region into the first priority for immediate funding.

7. On the basis of the Bureau’s assessment, as shown in Annex 2, the projects have been divided into four categories - A, B, C and D as follows:

(A) projects that are technically sound and of highest priority for funding;

(B) projects that are technically sound and are of medium priority for funding from the SGF;

(C) projects that are technically sound but of lower priority for funding; and

(D) projects that, on the basis of the information provided, are not considered technically sound or feasible.

8. Within the (A) category, (A1) and (A2) sub-categories have been indicated. The A1 projects are recommended for immediate funding using the available funds. This includes 13 projects (three projects from each of Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Neotropics, plus one project from Oceania) with a total project cost of Sfr 481,216.

9. The projects in the A2 list are considered the "reserve" projects, recommended for funding (in priority order based on the score received by each project using the assessment form) if additional resources should become available for the 1999 SGF cycle.

10. Another issue which the Subgroup on Finance and the Standing Committee must consider when making its allocations for 1999 is that of outstanding reports from previously funded projects. Paragraph 13 of COP7 Resolution VII.5 relating to the SGF stated the following: "DECIDES that in future years the Standing Committee should make funding for new projects conditional upon satisfactory compliance with reporting requirements for previous grants to the same country under the Fund’."

11. In anticipation of this condition entering into force, the Bureau wrote to all countries with outstanding reports on 2 September 1999 drawing this to their attention, and the staff of the Bureau have been reminding the relevant Contracting Parties of this obligation at regular intervals. The recommendation from the Bureau in Annex 2 shows those Parties for which reports remain outstanding as of 31 October 1999. An update on this situation will be provided at the Standing Committee meeting.

12. The Bureau recommends that, as appropriate, for A1 rated projects for 1999 the Standing Committee consider approving the projects subject to any outstanding reports being submitted by the end of February 2000. Failing that, the funds would be offered to the highest priority A2 listed project.

Annex 1: SGF funds available for allocation in 1999

Annex 2: Bureau assessment of SGF projects and recommendations for funding

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