IWC7: Barbados Seeks More Assistance for Small Island Developing StatesNewsroom
Barbados Minister of the Environment and Drainage Dr. Denis Lowe called upon development partners, particularly the Global Environment Facility (GEF), to play a greater role in assisting small island developing states (SIDS).
Lowe made this call as he addressed the opening ceremony of the 7th Biennial Global Environment Facility International Waters Conference (IWC7) at Hilton Barbados on 28 October 2013. Bridgetown, Barbados is this year’s host city for IWC7.
“Barbados believes that there is real need for special and deliberate consideration of SIDS issues within the GEF development framework, of which the replenishment process is a part,” he said.
Lowe told about 200 IWC7 delegates that Barbados and other members of the GEF Caribbean constituency have seen positive changes with more projects representing direct responses to national issues and challenges coming on stream.
“In our own case, Barbados has expanded its national GEF Small Grants Programme as a measure to enhance engagement with civil society in furthering the national sustainable development aspiration,” he said, adding that the program was now receiving projects for funding evaluation.
Lowe, however, stressed that despite the positive aspects, more action must be done to support SIDS.
“We believe that the ongoing replenishment process is an important and appropriate forum within which this matter should be raised and addressed,” he said. “As a financing mechanism for several of these environmental agreements, it may be argued that the GEF is uniquely placed to assist SIDS in bridging the gap between environmental and socioeconomic vulnerability on one hand, and environmental stewardship responsibility on the other.”
Lowe added that with global biodiversity assets continuing to decline, and the imposed challenges associated with climate change increasing in intensity and frequency, support for GEF to exercise its mandate required serious consideration.
He noted that the conference’s theme, “Economic Valuation as a Tool to Bridge the Science–Policy Gap,” was relevant for the SIDS community. Pointing out that 2013 is the year for International Water Cooperation, Lowe said the conference gives Barbados an opportunity to be part of the process of sharing global information and to allow the country to move forward.
Issues of water security faced by SIDS featured high on the IWC7 agenda, but a key feature of the conference is the three technical site visits, developed under the theme “Ridge to Reef” which are designed to highlight a range of water management challenges faced by Barbados. Traditional and new management approaches in the areas of land use planning, coastal zone management, wastewater reuse and treatment, marine protected areas, and groundwater protection form the core elements of the site visits.
The technical conference is also geared toward encouraging opportunities for learning on scientific and technical innovations and interaction training for International Waters project managers and country representatives. It is also expected to review the usage of economic valuation as a means of translating project outcomes into policy.
Conference participants in attendance include project managers and leaders from government ministries, transboundary basin commissions, the private sector, civil society, donor agencies, the GEF Secretariat and its partners such as the Asian Development Bank.
The conference is organized jointly by GEF and the United Nations Development Programme. It aims to facilitate cross-sectoral and portfolio-wide learning and experience sharing. It seeks to solicit advice from the existing GEF IW portfolio on burning issues, and to assist in building participant capacity in key management and technical areas. Participants sum up progress achieved and also look to the future of programming within and beyond the GEF IW focal area, with a special emphasis on reviewing the economic valuation of international waters and the links between economic valuation and science, as well as mechanisms for linking both to policy making.
Economic valuation can play a critical role in the formulation of more effective resource management, policies, and programs. Lowe said economic valuation could be defined as the process of monetizing the benefits or costs associated with goods or services.
“It can therefore be used to assess the economic benefit of a planned project or policy that may cause harm to the natural environment, or to understand the gains that may be realised from conservation or environmental preservation efforts,” he said.
Lowe said that policy makers should promote a decision-making environment supported by an appropriate science–policy interface that would remedy the dearth of valuation knowledge and the uncoordinated approach to valuation.
Astrid Hillers, senior environmental specialist for international waters at GEF, said bridging the gap between science and policy was important, and noted that during the site visits, they would be looking at situations in and solutions to what is happening in Barbados.
Hillers also commended Barbados for being the first small island developing state to host the biennial GEF IWC.
Photos and story from the Barbados Government Information System, IW Learn, and CTKNetwork.org