by Cathy Lashley
Whenever reference is made to a green economy, usually issues pertaining to climate change, preserving the environment and biodiversity come to mind. But, the term is wide ranging, involving multiple sectors, such as tourism, energy, housing, transport, construction and fisheries, among others.
The importance of the Green Economy was outlined at a recent United Nations Global Environment Facility’s Small Grants Programme Consultation one-day workshop implemented by the United Nations Development Programme at UN House. Representatives from community-based organisations came together to identify the priority areas of focus for the Barbados Country Programme.
National Coordinator of the GEF Small Grants Programme at the UNDP, David Bynoe, explained that the body allocated funds to facilitate the development of projects in such focal areas as biodiversity and conservation, climate change mitigation, protection of international waters, prevention of land degradation, and elimination of harmful chemicals, and their corresponding operational programmes based on the needs of the country.
These funds, he added, were distributed to community based organisations inclusive of non-governmental organisations. These groups must first submit a concept to the National Coordinator to be ratified before full project proposals can be submitted to the National Steering Committee for review and approval.
He explained: “In addition to the US $1 million provided directly by GEF SGP, the Government of Barbados decided to allocate US$1 million of the System of Transparent Allocation of Resources funding to the Small Grants Programme. This is optional and a choice that the Government makes whether or not they want to give that allocation to GEF SGP. It’s their choice.
“Fortunately, they chose to allow the Small Grants Programme to manage these funds. So now we have more money to spend at the grass roots level, [and] the community level, on projects that can really make a change, not only locally, but they are also going to have a global impact.”
The programme has been operational worldwide since 1992, but it actually only started within the region with support for Barbados and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States coming in 1994. Bynoe said that within this 18-year period, “over 18,000 [or] close to 14,000 community level projects; over three hundred million dollars in funding and 414 million dollars in cash and in kind co-funding” [had been allocated].
He added: “So, there is a lot of funding available to Barbados to be utilised, but we need to utilise it not carelessly, but in a very effective and an efficient way, so that we can make some serious transformational changes in Barbados. We want to transform Barbados.
“We have the power, we have the ability to transform things let’s ensure that we join hands together and we do so … because there are some larger projects that we can be funding, but it requires team work. It requires several organisations coming together.”
Within the programme, the UNDP provides grants of up to US$150,000, to “multiple communities”, but it must be coordinated by several NGOs.
“You would have a lead NGO, but you would have to work together with other NGOs … to attract a larger grant,” he advised.
“When you come for a grant from the GEF SGP and you’re applying for US $25,000, US $40,000, US $50,000, you have to match that in cash or in kind financing and that’s how we really mobilise more resources to ensure that you have a greater impact.
“When you mobilise this in kind or in cash you are bringing in additional partners, and additional stakeholders that will strengthen that project,” he pointed out.
During the workshop, Caribbean Regional Programme Coordinator of the Japan International Cooperation Agency, Taku Yoshida, provided participants via SKYPE with ideas about how to develop projects that could be sustainable and attract funding.
Under the umbrella of the 3rs, reduce, reuse and recycle, he said persons were able to recycle old newspapers and make them into attractive paper bags for use in the retail sector and encouraged other persons to come up with similar projects to secure assistance.
As this island strives to become the Caribbean’s most environmentally advanced green economy, similar initiatives could reduce the large amount of plastic used on a daily basis and bring this island one step closer towards its goal of environmental preservation, while at the same time generating employment and saving foreign exchange.
Some of the organisations at the workshop included the Barbados Council for the Disabled, Caribbean Youth Environment Network – Barbados Chapter, CHOICES Rehab Centre, Bush Hall Institute, Barbados Youth Development Council, the Small Business Association, the National Union of Farmers, the Barbados Society for Technologists in Agriculture and Bajan Culture Village.