DR. ELSIE LAURENCE-CHOUNOUNE: GEF SGP Civil Society Organization Awareness Building and Training Workshop

Feb 20, 2014

Dr. Elsie Laurence-Chounoune
UNDP Deputy Resident Representative
On the occasion of the
GEF SGP Civil Society Organization Awareness Building and Training Workshop
Thursday, February 20, 2014
Forestry Department

  • The Hon. Robert Pickersgill, Minister of Water, Land, Environment & Climate Change
  • Mr. Peter Knight, Chief Executive Officer National Environment & Planning Agency
  • Ms. Leonie Barnaby, Senior Director, Ministry of Water, Land, Environment & Climate Change and GEF Operational Focal Point
  • Mrs. Donna Blake, Country Director, The Nature Conservancy
  • Distinguished guests
  • Members of the Media
  • Ladies & Gentlemen

It is a pleasure to be here with you this morning and to bring remarks on behalf of the United Nations Development Programme. This Awareness Building and Training Workshop supported by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the GEF Small Grants Programme (SGP) shows the importance of communities and Community-based Organizations (CBOs) in supporting national policies, such as those linked to strengthening of the national protected areas in Jamaica. This project, implemented by the National Environment and Planning Agency, NEPA, along with key agencies such as the Forestry Department, the Fisheries Division and the Jamaica National Heritage Trust, aims at managing the protected areas in which many of you live, and on which some of you depend to earn a living. Protected areas are valued not just for the conservation of biodiversity, but they also play a significant role in disaster risk reduction, adaptation to climate change, provision of employment, and opportunities to enhance the tourism sector.

I cannot over-emphasize the importance of management of the protected areas, the effectiveness of which is measured by the Management Effectiveness Tracking Tool otherwise called the METT Scores. A target of the Protected Areas Project is to see quantifiable improvement of the METT Scores of each protected area. Some of the criteria of the METT Scores include the identification of the legal status, presence of enforcement activities, inventory of natural resources, existence of research programmes, monitoring programmes, demarcation of boundaries or even the presence of a management plan. Today’s training will take you through the METT Scorecard, the criteria to be measured, and most importantly, how you, the communities can contribute to improving the METT Score for the protected area in which you live and work. Improvement of the METT Score is directly related to tangible benefits such as resilience during storms and hurricanes, as well as improved opportunities for employment and income generation.

In 2013, Jamaica completed national consultations on the Post 2015 Agenda, determining the future each Jamaican wants for his or her country and giving a voice to the voiceless. The Post 2015 Agenda consultations reiterated the importance of integrating economic, social and environmental pillars in development and stressed the importance of inclusiveness across all sectors of society. Your work within the protected areas demonstrates this explicitly, and will help to move Jamaica on the path to sustainable development.

Sustainable development, as defined in the Bruntland Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development, is a“development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” This definition essentially underscores that the world is a “system “ that connects space and time and therefore the entire humanity. Thus, it recommends that we approach development as an integrated system where the protection of our environment plays a critical role in reducing poverties and addressing the needs of the poor.

This approach requires effective and innovative partnerships between the Government, non-governmental organizations, local communities and the private sector. This training today is an example of such partnerships. In SGP’s last Call for Proposals in December 2013, three Small Grants were awarded to Community-based Organizations (CBOs) in protected areas, with the specific goal of ensuring that the activities of these CBO’s directly contribute to the successful implementation of the national Protected Areas Project through the advancement of the METT Scores. I would like to pause here and acknowledge the Nature Conservancy as a key partner in the process, not only as a co-financier on the Protected Areas Project, but also in terms of providing technical expertise to the training session this morning.

UNDP stands ready to help the Government and people of Jamaica to achieve sustainable development. This means that we need to work together to strengthen Jamaica’s capacity to implement multilateral environmental agreements to which it is signatory. These include the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Montreal Protocol, and the Convention to Combat Desertification. In its determination to reduce poverty and to give equal opportunity to all, it is important that the Government of Jamaica continues to keep its commitment to these agreements, as related to the effective management the protected areas. Their integrity cannot be compromised by activities that could damage the ecosystem, making the country and its people more vulnerable to natural disasters. In this context, I would like to congratulate Minister Pickersgill for launching his climate change discourse, to sensitize Jamaicans on the issue of climate change. This shows the Government’s commitment to ensure that the environmental pillar is included in its sustainable development initiatives.

I count on the trainees to become the champions of protected areas. As your knowledge of the METT scoring system is being enhanced, so will be your understanding of the importance of the protected areas for the development of Jamaica, as a Small Island Development States. Thus, it is critical that this training be extended to more CBOs involved in other protected areas. This will translate into tangible benefits not only for the communities but also for the country as a whole. UNDP will continue to provide support to the Government, as it builds the capacity of Communities to be more engaged in protecting our environment.

I wish you all an excellent training.

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