TheRamsar Small Grants Fund was established by Ramsar COP4 in 1990 as a mechanismto assist developing countries and those with economies in transition inimplementing the Convention and to enable the conservation and wise use ofwetland resources – since that time, it has provided funding and co-funding, upto 40,000 Swiss francs (about US$ 32,000) per project, for something like 165projects totalling about 6 million francs. Funds are made available by voluntarycontributions by Contracting Parties, notably Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France,Germany, Iran, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, UnitedKingdom, the United States, and especially Sweden, as well as by WWF and othernongovernmental sources.
Suitableproject proposals are those which contribute to the implementation of theConvention’s Strategic Plan 2003-2008 for the conservation and wise use ofwetlands; provide emergency assistance for Ramsar sites; or provide ‘preparatoryassistance’ to allow non-Contracting Parties to progress toward accession.Eligibility is restricted to countries on the List of Aid Recipients establishedby the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organization of EconomicCooperation and Development (OECD), effectively meaning developing countries andcountries with economies in transition. Projects may be proposed and implementedby any agency, NGO, or individual, but proposals MUST be endorsed and monitoredby the Administrative Authority (the Ramsar implementing agency) in the Party’sgovernment, and seldom is more than one proposal approved from the same Party inany year.
Successfulproposals receive 80% of the allocated funds upon signature of the contract andthe remainder upon submission of an adequate final report, but countries fromwhich adequate final project reports have not been received may be deniedfurther consideration for funding until those outstanding project dossiers havebeen closed.
Projectsfor the 2003 cycle have recently been selected by the Standing Committee, andletters and contracts are presently going out from the Secretariat.
Thecall for proposals is now being made for the 2004 cycle, with a deadline of 30June 2004 for application and with a decision by the Standing Committee aroundthe end of the year. The current edition of the “SGF Operational Guidelines”,which include complete information and the required forms, are now available onthe Ramsar Web site in Word and PDF formats, as well as directly from theSecretariat. The Secretariat’s regional teams also offer an advisory service tohelp with the preparation of suitable proposals, for which drafts should besubmitted to the Senior Regional Advisors by 15 April 2004.
Readerscan also find links to the Operational Guidelines, as well as lists of thesuccessful project proposals for each year since 1992 and news reports ofsuccessfully completed projects, which may provide useful tips as to the kindsof projects and approaches most often selected for assistance, on the Ramsar Website at: http://ramsar.org/key_sgf_index.htm