ARUN KASHYAP: GEF Small Grants Programme Capacity Development Workshop

Sep 16, 2013

It is indeed a pleasure for me to be here with you this morning and to bring remarks on behalf of the UNDP for this important event – the Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme, which we all know as the GEF SGP, Capacity Development Workshop on “Grant Writing for Local Civil Society Organisations” here in The Bahamas. This GEF SGP is being implemented globally by the United Nations Development Programme.

As a Small Island Developing State, The Bahamas boasts a reputation as being one of the most prosperous countries in the Caribbean, with an economy mostly dependent on tourism and offshore banking. The Encyclopedia of Nations reported that the main industry of tourism accounts for over 60 percent of the Bahamian GDP, and it also provides jobs for more than half of the country’s workforce. Visitors arrive by sea and by air and contribute approximately $1.5 billion to the Bahamian economy each year. It is also reported that the financial services sector as the next most important economic sector, accounts for some 15 percent of GDP.

With The Bahamas consisting of over 700 low-lying islands, with more than 2000 cays, islets and rocks, covering approximately 100,000 square miles, conservation of biodiversity and sensitive ecosystems, as well the issue of climate change adaptation are of great significance to the country. As a large low-lying archipelago is the Bahamas is therefore considered extremely vulnerable to changes in the environment. It should also be noted that the entire country is effectively a coastal zone as no part of any island is sufficiently far from the sea as to be totally free of its influence.

The majority of the population lives within a short distance from the sea, so vulnerability of its livelihood to adverse environmental impacts continues to be of great concern for the country. Rural populations in the less developed islands may experience issues that threaten their economic sustainable livelihood and ability to secure sustained employment. The present and future adverse impacts of climate change on The Bahamas are of great significance as climate change is able to affect the economy, food security and the quality of lives of Bahamians, who face losing their livelihoods as a result of the consequences of climate change. The weather events that can affect The Bahamas are quite diverse. We can recall that in January 1977, snow was reported to have mixed with rain in Freeport, when it also snowed in the Miami area, and in 2005 Hurricane Wilma did significant damage in The Bahamas.

Hurricane Wilma was the most intense tropical cyclone ever recorded in the Atlantic basin. Wilma was the twenty-second storm, thirteenth hurricane, sixth major hurricane, fourth Category 5 hurricane, and second-most destructive hurricane of the record-breaking 2005 season. While passing the Bahamas, the hurricane produced hurricane force winds and a powerful storm surge, flooding southwestern coastal areas of Grand Bahama and destroying hundreds of buildings. Damage totaled about $100 million (2005 USD, $105 million 2007 USD), almost entirely on the western half of the island.

The conservation of The Bahamas’ biodiversity will help to support a healthy ecosystem, and therefore play a part in efforts for climate change adaptation. Climate change has been signaled as the most complex development issue faced by the global community today. We are all well aware of the heightened vulnerability caused by its adverse impacts especially for small island developing states such as The Bahamas. We applaud the Government of The Bahamas for being a party to numerous Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) to which it continues to meet its obligations. We also applaud the Government of the Bahamas for its commitment to improving the environment through the development, passage and enforcement of relevant legislation and through the implementation of national policies that result in environmental benefits both nationally and globally.

The UNDP is happy to have partnered with the Global Environment Fund’s Small Grants Programme to provide development opportunities for communities across The Bahamas since May 2009. We are happy to report that since inception, seventeen (17) grants totaling USD$405,000 have been given to grantees comprising Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), (Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) and Community-Based Organizations (CBOs). Despite the fact that GEF SGP is relatively new to The Bahamas, the country has had an excellent track record in accessing GEF resources to successfully execute and implement local projects that directly benefit the environment. We are pleased that the GEF SGP initiatives are being undertaken in areas linked to climate change, land degradation and biodiversity focal areas.

Today, we are at the start of the Grant Writing Capacity Development Workshop for Local CSOs, NGOs and CBOs, which is the second workshop of its kind, aimed at facilitating the development of skills amongst local persons in the areas of:
1. Grant Writing, Completion of Project Concepts and Project Proposal Development, Project Implementation, Monitoring and Evaluation;
2. Resource Mobilization and Capacity Development for CSOs, NGOs, and CBOs, and
3. Understanding Co-Financing and Budgets for Project Grants.

UNDP is the implementing agency of GEF SGP at the global level, and at the national level UNDP is a member of the National Steering Committee, and as such we are committed to supporting The Bahamas in the successful implementation of this important work. The UNDP Country Office in Jamaica was instrumental in the recruitment of Mr. Stewart as the National Coordinator in 2009 and we are pleased to see the fruit of his efforts as witnessed by the number of grants awarded and the funds committed. In a July 2009 Mission from the Jamaica Country Office to The Bahamas, there were discussions on the operational arrangements for starting-up the programme, the composition and appointment of the National Steering Committee, the SGP available budget, and the identified office space. In the four years since then, The Bahamas GEF SGP has continued to progress and this is evident from the turnout here this morning and the participation of the communities.

In addition to the GEF SGP, UNDP has also supported The Bahamas in accessing funds from the Global Environment Facility and supporting The Bahamas in meeting its obligations to various UN Conventions to which it is a Party. The successful regional project entitled Integrated Watershed and Coastal Area Management (IWCAM) was on the ground in eight countries implementing nine demonstration projects. The Bahamas was a privileged country as it was the only country in the region to implement two Demo Projects. The first was the Demo Project at Andros, the largest island in the Bahamian archipelago, where pollution of freshwater and coastal resources were addressed. The second Demo Project at Elizabeth Harbour Marina at Exuma, was a key initiative with several components including the establishment of a pump-out vessel for the yachting community; construction of a wastewater treatment plant; policy reform relating to user fees and change of use; the installation of mooring buoys and water quality monitoring. All aimed at ensuring an enabling policy and operational environment for the key yachting community and to ensure environmental sustainability. Both projects were implemented by the BEST Commission, our long standing partner, who is also currently implementing the Second National Communication (SNC) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. We understand that work on the SNC is progressing and the SNC is expected to be submitted to the UNFCCC at the 19th Conference of Parties in Warsaw later this year.

UNDP salutes the Government of The Bahamas for its commitment to sustainable land management practices and the protection of the overall ecological system in The Bahamas, and commits to providing support for the further strengthening of the related policy framework that will help to mitigate the negative effects of climate change in The Bahamas.

The UNDP is pleased to support the efforts here today and UNDP’s role in this initiative underscores our continued commitment to working with partners to identify and implement appropriate interventions that meet the development needs of The Bahamas. Today’s workshop supports our overarching goal of achieving the targets of the Millennium Development Goals and ensuring that there is sustainable development in The Bahamas beyond 2015.

Thank you.

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