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Strategic Collaborative Fund Phase 2

SEI’s Strategic Collaborative Fund Phase 2 (SCF2) emphasizes collaborative partnerships that integrate gender and social equality and human rights-based approaches.

Inactive project



Strategic and inclusive partnership is a fundamental component to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

SEI Asia, with support from the Swedish government (SIDA), launched the Strategic Collaborative Fund Phase 2 (SCF2) programme in 2018 to enhance the current 2030 Agenda efforts in Asia and the Pacific. SCF2 aims to foster regional cooperation and policy dialogue for sustainable development and environmental sustainability, through capacity building, knowledge sharing and increased collaboration.

Human rights and gender equality are central to SCF2, as it champions regional and inter-regional collaboration for transboundary environmental policy development.


From 2018 to 2022, SCF2 will create long-term partnerships to enhance policy development and institutional capacity building in Asia, under the framework of regional integration and the SDGs. It will hold strategic events that seek to build more effective regional policies that contribute to SDG achievement.


Component 1: Inter-regional cooperation with China and Europe

Improving cooperation between ASEAN, China, and Europe is key in trade expansion and greater multilateral understanding.

SCF2 is using the China-ASEAN Environment Cooperation Forum (CAECF) and the Asia-Europe Environment Forum (ASEF) as platforms to facilitate policy dialogues and knowledge exchange between ASEAN, China and Europe to address regional sustainability.

Component 2: Regional cooperation within Asia-Pacific

SCF2 supports the ASEAN in increasing regional collaboration on key transboundary environmental issues, such as pollution, water governance, energy flows, natural resource use efficiency and climate change.

The project will provide support for initiating, organizing, and hosting events that highlight key issues that are linked to the 2030 sustainable development agenda. The goal is to build regional capacity to lead efforts toward collaborative policy development.

Component 3: Learning and capacity development

SCF2 will develop open online courses on gender equality and rights-based approaches to enhance institutional capacity and knowledge of regional partners. The courses aim to encourage gender, human rights and poverty reduction-centric policies on environmental and climate change issues and the SDGs.

Component 4: Programme management

SCF2 aims to improve project management through enhanced programme monitoring and evaluation and strategic communication. Partners will be assisted in identifying target policies and tracking new knowledge application in policy formulation.

This component will also support the institutionalization of gender and rights-based approaches into partners and participants’ current and future programmes and operations, as well as encourage improved efforts toward SDG and Agenda 2030 achievement.

Video: SEI / YouTube.

Overview and achievements

SEI Asia facilitated the Strategic Collaborative Fund (SCF) partner seminar on 10 November 2023 with over 30 partner representatives to celebrate SCF’s remarkable achievements towards environmental sustainability, strengthen regional partnerships, and explore learning and capacity development. This knowledge brief summarizes the workshop’s key highlights, achievements, and critical discussions.

Phase II of the SCF programme has had a long journey since 2018. Over five years, SEI Asia has engaged with more than 1,400 organizations and 5,200 participants, fostering collaboration through 71 regional policy dialogues. The SCF programme applies a three-pronged approach through supporting inter-regional cooperation with China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection and the Asia-Europe Foundation, engaging in regional partnerships with local and relatively smaller and grassroots organizations, and lastly with sustained capacity building through Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) on Rights-based Approach and Gender equality.

SCF’s impact goes beyond supporting individual events; it catalyzes policy influence and contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) related to climate change, gender equality, human rights, and poverty reduction. SCF Phase II has yielded tangible outcomes throughout its implementation, from key policy developments to establishing novel partnerships and enhancing institutional capacities. These results underscore the program’s effectiveness in translating collaborative efforts into actionable initiatives that leave a lasting impact on the environmental and developmental landscape.

Partner Perspectives on Environmental Challenges

SEI Asia facilitated discussions on partner perspectives across thematic areas, including 1) Intersectionality, 2) water resource management, 3) Sustainable and Inclusive Food Systems, 4) Circularity and Policy, and 5) Bridging Communities, Policymakers, and Researchers through Multistakeholder Engagement. Noteworthy achievements in Sustainable and Inclusive Food Systems, Circularity, Water Resources Management, Intersectionality, and Multistakeholder Engagements were explored. This session explored the impacts of SCF support on the involved partner organizations, shared success indicators arising from collaborative endeavors, and articulated their strategic visions for the future beyond the SCF. Representatives from a diverse array of entities contributed their perspectives. They were divided into smaller breakout groups offering nuanced insights on addressing environmental and climate challenges across various thematic areas. The session also provided a rich and comprehensive exploration of the multifaceted impacts and collaborative dynamics within the SCF Programme.

In Sustainable and Inclusive Food Systems, participants underscored the pivotal role of SCF’s support in carving out clear pathways for sustainable food systems,  amplifying community outreach, and translating regional experiences into actionable strategies at local and national levels. The identified success factors encompassed the cultivation of robust networks, integration of grassroots experiences, utilization of existing frameworks, and the flexibility to customize projects according to organizational needs. Post-project completion, partners actively engage in advocacy endeavors, with some initiating pilot projects, recognizing the value of successes and failures in shaping overall project effectiveness. Lessons learned are being applied to new initiatives incorporating gender and environmental considerations. Ongoing efforts concentrate on strengthening Gender, Environment, and Development, enhancing inclusivity in project design and implementation, and emphasizing cooperative approaches and rural financing, particularly in Laos. In the Philippines, scaling up 3ZERO House is a good practice in providing physical collaborative space to facilitate and accelerate local partnerships, innovations, and solutions dedicated to the realization of a 3ZERO world characterized by Zero Carbon emissions, Zero Exclusion, and Zero Poverty.

Discussions in the group on Circularity and Policy delved into the intricacies of engaging diverse groups, utilizing citizen science for comprehensive data gathering, and integrating policy into actionable strategies. The discourse underscored the transformative impact of gender and human rights-based approaches, the collaborative nature of co-creation processes, and the crucial role of multi-stakeholder participation. A notable success indicator within the SCF programme was the partners’ ability to amplify the voices of grassroots communities in significant policy discussions. Participants shared insights into challenges and successes, emphasizing the need for mechanisms to track progress and facilitate sharing best practices. Looking ahead, the group envisions a system that not only sets exemplary standards but also offers innovative solutions, highlighting the boundless potential of human creativity. Partners also expressed a firm commitment to promoting citizen science initiatives and advocating for supportive policies at local, national, and international levels.

The Water Resources Management group focused on the critical role of regional and international collaboration in achieving success. Participants delved into accomplishments, notably awareness-raising through seminars, workshops, and international symposiums. Identified challenges included securing financial support, engaging with local communities effectively, and navigating consensus-building processes for sustainable water resource management. A recommended strategy involves establishing a compensatory mechanism, particularly when involving local community participation, to ensure a more inclusive and equitable participation process.

The Intersectionality group unanimously acknowledges the instrumental role of the SCF programme in establishing a thriving, inclusive, and democratic platform that unites diverse stakeholders, including indigenous groups, LGBT individuals, government officials, and NGO practitioners. This achievement is rooted in fostering constructive dialogues across various themes among these stakeholders. Critical success factors identified include the necessity for a sufficient budget to facilitate the participation of individuals from different countries. Additionally, robust collaboration among co-organizers, representing diverse perspectives such as climate scientists, social scientists, government representatives, and practitioners, has proven crucial for success. The group envisions crafting a collective blog to document lessons and best practices from their work and considers presenting their case studies to the UNFCCC. Emphasizing the importance of stakeholder management skills, the group highlights the need to understand power dynamics and politics when bringing diverse people together. Furthermore, they advocate for public-private-civil society partnerships to advance their initiatives.

The Bridging Communities, Policymakers, and Researchers through Multistakeholder Engagementgroup emphasized the role of SCF support in establishing a dedicated space for women and environmental human rights defenders. This space is a platform for discussions, sharing experiences, addressing issues, and exploring practical support and organization methods. The open forum has provided direct access to valuable connections, and engagement with regional partners and grassroots organizations within South Asia has enriched the discourse on climate change issues. The undertaken projects have achieved notable success, particularly in empowering communities, fostering connectivity on platforms like Zoom, and securing positive engagement with parliamentarians on critical issues. These initiatives consistently integrated a robust media outreach component. The group aims to sustain momentum by continuously engaging with critical actors in under-prioritized areas related to gender, indigenous Peoples, and vulnerable communities to climate change. Drawing on insights from past projects, partners plan to craft proposals emphasizing gender inclusivity and establish a standardized network of environmental defenders. Furthermore, the group envisions creating mechanisms for accessing legal and financial support for their initiatives.

Inclusive policy dialogues: Integrating gender and rights-based approaches

Gender and Rights-Based Approaches have evolved over the years in the SCF programme. It began as a voluntary process and eventually became mandatory to ensure meaningful integration into all policy dialogues and outcomes. Partners provided feedback and input on applying gender- and human rights-based approaches and knowledge throughout their projects. A SWOT analysis revealed strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in gender integration efforts, emphasizing sustained efforts and inclusivity within their respective events. This interactive session promoted thoughtful consideration and strategic planning for improving gender and human rights integration efforts.

Prioritizing partnership for the goals

SDGs are at the core of the SCF program, and this was reflected in the grantees’ proposal, where they have to identify SDG Goals that they aim to contribute to in their project. Each year, through the open call proposal, SEI has identified various themes highlighting the urgent action needed to reduce climate vulnerability, ranging from issues on air quality, food security, circularity, water scarcity, disaster risk reduction, gender equality, and social inclusion. For grantees, identifying core SDGs in their project proposal is a prerequisite; however, it is essential to understand that Goals and Targets are interconnected. While addressing the agenda, it is necessary to consider the synergies and trade-offs between goals and targets to design project interventions effectively and, most importantly, leave no one behind.

Within SCF, the contribution to SDGs was strategically embedded in the activity design and policy dialogue to foster regional partnership. In the implementation, grantees were encouraged to adopt system-level thinking to analyze their project’s intended and unintended outcomes. For example, some projects focus on SDG 2 on zero hunger, and at the same time, SDG 13 on climate action is the umbrella of our project. This means that identifying the synergies between ensuring food security and climate actions is crucial for achieving both Goals and addressing multiple challenges to achieve the objective. A practical example could be valuing local food systems, preserving biodiversity, and avoiding monoculture.

Another example would be green growth and promoting sustainable consumption and production (SDG 12). Circular economy is often seen as the vision for the future where we use less resources, less pollution, and less waste. At the same time, critically examining how it will affect diverse stakeholders, especially the marginalized and vulnerable groups, is vital to ensure a just and inclusive transformation.

The discussion shows that SCF has become pivotal in building grantees’ capacity, developing initiatives, and setting targets where grantees can make the most impact from their projects. There are some areas for improvement, for example, in reporting and measuring grantees’ performance against the SDGs target. However, it took time to identify this, considering the short project timeline.

Fostering collaborations and charting the path ahead

The SCF programme from 2018-2024 has demonstrated outstanding outcomes of regional partnerships in driving bottom-up policy influence on environmental sustainability and gender equality. It has proven the value of supporting locally embedded regional organizations and capacity building of local CSOs and grassroots organizations. It has provided inclusive platforms for marginalized and vulnerable groups to participate in policy processes and discuss with regional bodies and other development actors. The SCF has implemented innovative approaches to address sustainable development and environmental issues by combining network building with diverse actors across various sectors, continuously integrating scientific evidence, and applying the lens of social equity into decision-making and policy processes. Poverty reduction, equity, gender and human rights are integral to SCF dialogues and other activities, thereby strengthening the awareness and capacities of participants to mainstream social equity into their environmental and climate planning institutions and programmes.

After completing SCF Phase 2, SEI is focused on sustaining its impact through strategic and inclusive partnerships aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The critical approach involves strengthening existing partnerships and expanding SEI’s regional network. The post-SCF strategy emphasizes deepening collaborations with diverse stakeholders, including grassroots and developmental organizations. SEI Asia conveyed heartfelt appreciation to partners and encouraged a continuation of collaborative efforts towards environmental sustainability and key SEI’s impact areas on reducing climate risk, sustainable resource use, and improved health and well-being. SEI promotes joint commitment and cooperation on transboundary environmental issues, integrating gender and human rights considerations. Active engagement with policymakers remains a core focus for contributing informed insights to evidence-based policy decisions in Asia. SEI will scale up efforts, leveraging successful strategies from SCF, addressing emerging environmental challenges, and ensuring multi-stakeholder involvement through policy dialogue and capacity building. SEI Asia and SCF partners call for further engagements in collaborative regional dialogues and sustainable policy development beyond the SCF2 programme with support from the Embassy of Sweden.

Photo: SEI Asia






Grow Asia




Events and Themes



28-29 August 2023 Bringing people and policy together for coherent actions towards achieving Inclusive Circular Economy Transition in South Asia and South-East Asia

(Theme: Circular Economy)

Intellectuals Center
21-23 August 2023 Strengthening Regional Knowledge-Policy-Practice Networks for Inclusive and Equitable Climate Resilience Actions in the Mekong Region

(Theme: Partnerships)

Thailand Environment Institute
21-23 August 2023 Integrating Equity and Reframing Urban Nature-based Solutions in Growing, South Asian Cities

(Theme: Biodiversity)

Transitions Research
29 May 2023 Mind the Gap! Unlocking Inclusive Finance for Food System Transformation through Multi-Stakeholder Action

(Theme: Climate Finance)

Grow Asia
4-6 April 2023 Securing Land Rights of Women and Indigenous Peoples in the Face of Climate Change in South Asia National Land Coalition Nepal, Community Self-Reliance Centre
28 March 2023 Strategic Partnerships for Policy Impact: Multi-Stakeholder Engagement for Advancing the Sustainable Development Goals in Asia

Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (APFSD)

Asian Venture Philanthropy Network (AVPN)


16 December Democratizing and re-Indigenizing Water Resources Management and Climate Resilience in the Lower Mekong River Basin

(Theme: Circular economy)

National University of Laos
25 October Raising Equitable and Sustainable Finance: Understanding sustainable finance taxonomy AVPN
24 October ENVForum Spin-Off Conference Circular Industry: Innovation and Digitization as Enablers for SMEs Asia-Europe Foundation


21 – 22 October Pathways to Climate Resilience: Forward Family Farmers for a Healthy People and Planet 

(Theme: Partnerships for Climate-Resilience Pathways in Asia)

Asian Farmers Association


6 October Loss and Damage Financing in Southeast Asia: Current issues and ways forward Webinar

(Theme: Disaster Risk Reduction)

Manila Observatory
29 September – 1 October Building a Sustainable and Inclusive Agriculture System – Together towards a Zero Exclusion, Zero Carbon, Zero Poverty Southeast Asia

(Theme: Agri-food systems)

23 September Waste Hero Alliance: Waste Workers & Youth Together for inclusive Circular Cities

77th United Nations General Assembly High Level Side Event for Social Business, Youth and Technology

(Theme: Ecosystems)

Yunus Foundation
15 – 16 September ASEAN-China Environmental Cooperation Forum Foreign Economic Cooperation Office (FECO) Ministry of Ecology and Environment, China
22-25 August Making Sense of and Responding to Loss and Damage in Southeast Asia

Field Visits to Bohol, community-led workshop on loss and damage

(Theme: Disaster Risk Reduction)

Manila Observatory
28 – 29 June 2022
 ENVforum Annual Conference 2022 – SMEs Going Circular: Decarbonisation of Food Supply Chains Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF)
22 – 24 June  2022  

ASEAN-China Environmental Cooperation Week 2022  


Foreign Economic Cooperation Office (FECO), Ministry of Ecology and Environment, China
21 – 22 June 2022 AVPN Global Conference on June 2022

Event Recording

Post-Event Report

31 May 2022 Centre for Finance for Sustainability Bangkok AVPN


November–December 2021

Towards Mainstreaming Ecosystem Services In National Policies For Sustainable Management Of Freshwater Ecosystems In South And Southeast Asia

(Theme: Freshwater Ecosystems)

Asian Institute of Technology
14–15 December 2021 Mekong Institute
30 November–1 December 2021 ENVforum Annual Conference 2021 – The Future of Food


Asia-Europe Foundation
23–25 November 2021 Clean Air Initiative for Asian Cities (CAI-Asia) Center, Inc.
15–19 November 2021 Institute for Circular Economy Development (ICED), Vietnam National University
24–26 October 2021 The Foreign Economic Cooperation Office (FECO) of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment,  China
29–30 April 2021
(Theme: Disaster Risk Reduction)
Children and Youth International (CYI)
2, 9, 20 April 2021
(Theme: Climate Change Adaptation)
The University of Auckland


4 December 2020 Sustainable Business Awards Global Initiatives
24–26 November 2020 Grounding and Empowering: Nourishing the Grassroots for Transformative Change An Asia Women Environmental Defenders Retreat

(Theme: Gender)

Non-Timber Forest Products
9–11 November 2020 Asia-Europe Environment Forum (ENVforum) 2020

(Theme: Connecting the Dots: Creating an Enabling Environment for SDG 12 in ASEM)

Asia-Europe Foundation
4, 11, 18, 25 November 2020 IPEN-SEA Virtual Conference 2020: Citizen Science in Southeast and East Asia 

(Theme: Prevent and Reduce Urban Pollution from Toxic Chemicals)

EcoWaste Coalition Philippines
2–3 November 2020 Women, Water, Climate: Tackling the Challenges

(Theme: Water)

Women for Water Partnership (WfWP)
6–7 October 2020 Making Family Farming Sustainable and Viable in Asia: Strengthening Farmer-Led Multi Actor Partnership Platforms for Family Farming

(Theme: Agriculture)

Asian Farmers Association for Sustainable Rural Development (AFA)
8–12 June 2020 The Climate Finance Track at the AVPN 2020 Virtual Conference

(Theme: Climate Finance)

Asian Venture Philanthropy Network Limited
21–22 January 2020 Regional Dialogue Workshop on Green and Sustainable Agriculture

(Theme: Agriculture)

Department of Policy and Legal Affairs, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Laos


2–4 December 2019 Climate Smart Women Connect: Climate and Gender Justice for Indigenous Women in Asia

(Theme: Gender)

CUSO International
18–19 November 2019 Responsible Business Forum

(Theme: Circularity 2030: Next generation leaders)

Global Initiatives
29 October 2019 Roundtable on the Environment and Social Inclusion  Global Initiatives
27–30 October 2019 9th Southeast Asian Human Rights and Business Conference

(Theme: Energy)

Forest Peoples Programme
16–18 October 2019 Regional Consultation to Promote Actions to Improve Asian Deltas Resilience

(Theme: Water)

WWF Greater Mekong
13–17 October 2019 Grassroots Community Resilience at the Asia-Pacific Urban Forum 7 (APUF-7)

(Theme: Disaster Risk Reduction)

Asia Coalition for Housing Rights
8–9 October 2019 Challenges and Opportunities on Indigenous Knowledge System and Practices and Rights-Based Sustainable Development: A Southeast Asian Forum

(Theme: Climate Change Adaptation)

Samdhana Institute
17–18 September 2019 China ASEAN Environmental Cooperation Forum

(Theme: Promote and Foster Regional Green Growth: Best Practices for Eco-city Development and Sustainable Ocean Ecosystem Management)

Center for International Cooperation and Exchange, Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE) of the People’s Republic of China
29–30 July 2019 Asia-Europe Environment Forum (ENVforum) Annual Conference

(Theme: The Role of Consumer in Triggering Changes in Consumption & Production)


Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF)

Online courses

The integration of human rights and gender equality is central to the SCF2, as it champions regional and inter-regional collaboration for transboundary environmental policy development. 

Through a collaboration with Raoul Wallenberg Institute (RWI) and Stockholm Environment Institute Asia gender cluster, evidence-based human rights and gender equality approaches are integrated into the programme implementation through capacity building such as direct coaching and providing open online courses.  

 This ensures that human rights and gender equality become central to regional environmental and climate change policy with the intent of achieving SDG integration. 

Course 1: Rights-based approaches to environmental sustainability

Image: SEI

Course 2: Gender, Environment and Sustainable Development

Image: SEI

Guidance notes

These guidance notes support grantees to integrate human rights and gender equality, and monitoring, evaluation and learning in all steps of their events.

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