21st September 2021: Representatives and partners from the ten Caribbean countries participating in the Global Environment Facility-funded UN Environment Programme-implemented Integrating Water, Land and Ecosystems Management in Caribbean Small Island Developing States (GEF UNEP IWEco) Project will meet virtually on 23rd and 24th September 2021, for the Project’s 5th Regional Project Steering Committee Meeting (RPSCM 5).
The IWEco Project’s objective is to contribute to the preservation of Caribbean ecosystems that are of global significance and the sustainability of livelihoods through the application of existing proven technologies and approaches that are appropriate for small island developing states through improved fresh and coastal water resources management, sustainable land management and sustainable forest management that also seek to enhance resilience of socio-ecological systems to the impacts of climate change.
The project began implementation 5 years ago, in September 2016, with an Inception Meeting and its First RPSCM held in Kingston, Jamaica. However, it took more than a year to get the Project Coordination Unit (PCU), which is hosted by the UN Environment Programme’s Cartagena Convention Secretariat, in Kingston, organized, and then, for the eight countries with national sub-projects (Antigua & Barbuda, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, St. Kitts & Nevis, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, and Trinidad & Tobago) to begin execution on the ground. Saint Lucia was the first country to begin implementation in November 2017, while as recently as April 2021, the Dominican Republic, after a series of challenges, started its field interventions.
Regional activities, meant to help build capacity amongst all ten Small Island Developing States (SIDS) participating (the other two being Barbados and Grenada) for integrated management of water, land and ecosystems, have gained momentum with the recent completion of a Regional Laboratory Strengthening Survey as well as an assessment of the current state of environmental data and information warehousing in the Caribbean region.
In addition, efforts to strengthen policy, legislative and institutional reforms and capacity building for sustainable land management, Integrated Water Resource Management and ecosystem services management in all participating countries are being led by IWEco’s Regional Executing partners, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), and the Secretariat to the Cartagena Convention.
The strengthening of nature-based enterprises and sustainable livelihoods is also an important element of IWEco and both the UNDP GEF Small Grants Programme and the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI) have been involved in building capacity in communities involved in a series of initiatives meant to foster sustainable livelihoods while taking care of the environment upon which they depend.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted project activities and slowed the achievement of some outcomes, particularly at national level, a survey undertaken by the project in late 2020 showed that significant progress has still been possible due to adaptive management at all levels, the continued provision of assistance, information exchange and technical-backstopping facilitated by virtual means, and to the renewed efforts of all project partners.
This determination to make progress in all aspects of its ambitious mandate, despite the many challenges, is clear as IWEco Project partners prepare to review progress over the past year and chart the way forward for the remainder of the project at RPSCM 5.
St. Kitts & Nevis, the smallest country participating in IWEco, will host this, second virtual meeting of the RPSC, which is also expected to focus upon the learning from, and sustainability of, successful initiatives, the measures needed to provide more regional support, and ensuring the efficient use of time and resources needed for completion of all activities by project end-date.
Jan Betlem, IWEco’s Regional Project Coordinator, congratulates the participating countries and institutions that have committed themselves to the goals and objectives of this multi-faceted project which depends upon good partnerships for success. He points out that: “Projects like IWEco do not come along that often. So, making the best use of the resources during the 5 plus years of execution is the smartest move partners can make, for themselves as well as for our common future!”.
During RPSCM 5, IWEco is expected to receive approval for an extension up to mid-2023, allowing all partners to execute their interventions successfully despite the ongoing global pandemic.
For more information contact:
Donna Sue Spencer | Communication Specialist | GEF IWEco Project
URL: www.iweco.org | Fb: @caribbeaniweco
UNEP Cartagena Convention | 14-20 Port Royal Street | Kingston, Jamaica