NICOLE LEOTAUD, Executive Director, Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI)
Happy World Environment Day 2019 to all TT civil society organizations achieving positive results in protecting our natural environment.
A recent study by the Ministry of Planning and Development identified 129 civil society organizations active in TT that help meet the country’s environmental commitments to reduce pollution, fight climate change, protect biodiversity and develop resources. sustainable livelihoods for rural communities and green businesses.
These organizations work across the country and in communities, to implement outreach and education, research, field conservation, and policy development programs.
Think about the work being done by Nature Seekers Inc and Grande Riviere Environmental Awareness Trust to protect nesting leatherback turtles on the northeast coast of Trinidad. The Fondes Amandes community reforestation project protects the St. Ann watershed from fires and conducts research on climate-resilient tree species. Charlotteville’s Environmental Research Institute empowers community climate change champions and restores coral reefs. Environment Tobago educates younger generations on the importance of conserving biodiversity and contributes to development plans and policies in Tobago.
Fishermen and Friends of the Sea advocates for issues related to oil spills and their impact on fishermen and human health, unsustainable shrimp trawling, and the impacts of roads and other physical developments on natural ecosystems. The Alliance for Rural Communities of Trinidad and Tobago helps rural communities develop community-owned and financially independent chocolate businesses using rural resources, labor and creativity. The Santa Cruz Green Market provides a weekly venue for green and social businesses.
So how can these organizations and others play an even greater role in solving the critical environmental problems facing TT?
The Ministry of Planning is committed to working with civil society organizations to strengthen the role they play in the implementation of Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs), which are international agreements that TT signs. ‘committed to achieving global goals and standards.
TT has signed more than 14 MEAs, including the Convention on Biological Diversity and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Of course, TT is also committed to implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which includes very specific environmental goals. In 2020, TT will report to the United Nations on its progress in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, and the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI) has launched an online platform for civil society to report on the role it plays (see https: //hub.canari.org/sdg/).
The ministry’s study was presented during the TT consultations and will be finalized shortly. The study identified the need to focus on strengthening the technical knowledge of civil society organizations on MEAs so that they can more effectively align their work to support TT’s implementation of national MEA obligations.
The study also highlighted the need to support the organizational strengthening of civil society organizations to promote good governance, increase the capacity to access and manage financial and human resources, improve the efficiency and effectiveness of systems. planning, monitoring, evaluation and learning and encourage strong communication and foster partnerships. It was recognized that to provide strong technical environmental work, civil society organizations need to strengthen their organizational capacity.
A key objective is to improve civil society’s access to TT’s Green Fund so that they can help meet TT’s MEA obligations. The recommendations include building the capacity of the Green Fund delivery unit and conducting a comprehensive and independent technical review of the Green Fund’s processes, procedures, policies, results and lessons learned to date.
A recommendation from the civil society organizations participating in the study was that a tiered grantmaking process should be used, with different application, review and reporting requirements depending on the size. of the grant. This would improve the ability of small organizations to access smaller amounts of money, while ensuring higher levels of accountability for large grants.
Stakeholders also recommended that the Green Fund be more clearly aligned with national environmental policy, national MEA obligations and other key policies and plans. It should describe specific policy areas and investment priorities, including targets and indicators by which the impacts of investments can be measured over a given period (eg five or ten years).
On this World Environment Day, CANARI congratulates the Ministry of Planning and Development for this initiative to strengthen support for civil society organizations working to provide environmental solutions for TT. Implementing these recommendations will be key to strengthening the role of civil society, including through partnerships with government, to protect and manage the rich natural resources available to TT.
CANARI is a regional technical institute that has worked for more than 30 years to catalyze participatory management of natural resources in the Caribbean. For more information, please contact us at [email protected] or visit our website www.canari.org