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7 Billion Dreams and 20 million dollars to get the ball rolling: Fulfilling the GEF IWEco Dream.

Billion Dreams and 20 million dollars to get the ball rolling: Fulfilling the GEF IWEco Dream. 

For World Environment Day 2015, celebrated on June 5, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) seeks seven billion dreams in consuming with care our planet’s resources. 

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) has converted one dream to a reality for ten Caribbean Small Island Developing States (SIDS) with the approval of a regional, multifocal project which will contribute to the preservation and sustainable use of the Caribbean’s natural resources.

The Integrated Water, Land and Ecosystems Management in Caribbean Small Island Developing States (GEF IWEco) Project recently secured approval and funding of USD20,722,572 towards the use of integrated approaches for the management of fresh and coastal water resources, ecosystem services and sustainable land and forest use across the Caribbean region. The five year project will see the participation of Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Jamaica, Saint Kitts & Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent & the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago. The Bahamas has also received approval for the development of a Medium-sized Project to be executed alongside the major project.

GEF IWEco will support policy, institutional and legislative reforms, and the implementation of effective appropriate technologies to help accelerate the Caribbean’s contribution to global targets such as those highlighted in the SAMOA Pathway and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Christopher Corbin, Programme Officer for UNEP Caribbean Environment Programme’s Assessment and Management of Environmental Pollution (AMEP) Sub-programme noted that‘the approval of the GEF IWEco project will provide the necessary funding for addressing environmental priorities such as poor sanitation, unreliable water supply, the sustainable use of biodiversity and enhanced capacity for climate change resilience’. He added that ‘as we consume our natural resources at an unsustainable rate, we must find viable innovative solutions, such as those available through the project, to manage the use of our islands’ resources’.

Currently in its inception phase, the project falls within the scope of the Convention for the Protection and Development of the Marine Environment in the Wider Caribbean Region (Cartagena Convention) and its Protocols concerning Pollution from Land-based Sources and Activities (LBS) and Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW).These agreements commit Governments of the region to take serious measures in the management and sustainable use of their critical coastal and marine resources.

GEF IWEco will be co-implemented by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and co-executed by UNEP’s Caribbean Environment Programme (CEP), the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), the GEF Small Grants Programme and several other regional partners.

Mrs Alessandra Vanzella-Khouri, Officer in Charge of UNEP CEP noted that ‘the increased support of approximately 30 varied stakeholders meant that the project would garner support from local, commercial and industrial sectors and provide greater community level benefits’. She added that the ‘GEF IWEco Project is a fulfilled dream of its predecessor the Integrated Watershed and Coastal Areas Management in Caribbean SIDS (IWCAM) Project, which was also funded by the GEF and executed by UNEP CEP, and will implement many of the lessons learnt from that project’.

In his message for this year’s World Environment Day, Mr Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the UNEP stated that ‘there is still time to transform the challenges of dwindling and finite resources into opportunities that will promote prosperous economies and a healthy planet for generations to come’ and that is the dream the GEF IWEco hopes to set into motion for countries of the Wider Caribbean.

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