Trinidad and Tobago hosts the Sixth Regional Project Steering Committee Meeting of the Global Environment Facility (GEF)-funded Integrating Water, Land and Ecosystem Management in Caribbean Small Island Developing States (IWEco)

Photo: A cross-section of regional delegates at the Sixth Regional Project Steering Committee Meeting of the Global Environment Facility (GEF)-funded Integrating Water, Land and Ecosystem Management in Caribbean Small Island Developing States (IWECO).

Environmental Management Authority

Trinidad and Tobago was honoured to host the Sixth Regional Project Steering Committee Meeting (RPSC) of the UN Environmental Programme implemented, Global Environment Facility (GEF) funded Integrating Water, Land and Ecosystem Management in Caribbean Small Island Developing States (UNEP GEF IWEco) over the period 18 – 20 July 2022. The RPSC saw a range of delegates from the Caribbean region, including representatives from Barbados, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada and executing partners, the Secretariat to the Cartagena Convention, the UNDP GEF Small Grants Programme, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), the Organization of the Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI).

Minister of Planning and Development, the Honourable Penelope Beckles, delivered Opening Remarks at the RSPC and shared several notable project achievements, amongst others:

  • Restoration of a total of 18 hectares of land with 15 hectares of exhausted quarry pits rehabilitated at National Quarries Company Limited and private sector involvement with 2 hectares at Carib Glass Works Limited and 1 hectare at Trinidad Cement Limited using a range of nature-based methods which have been documented in a manual to enable wider learning.
  • Fruitful and encouraging collaboration between the EMA, two non-governmental organizations (the Trust for Sustainable Livelihoods and IAMovement); the UNDP Small Grants Programme, and various ministries and agencies responsible for overseeing and managing sustainable quarrying in Trinidad and Tobago.
  • Training and empowerment of 27 “Quarry Rehabilitation Champions” who are persons from nearby communities now trained in land rehabilitation and sustainable planting techniques.

As the local Executing Agency, the EMA applauds the IWEco Project which built leadership in environmental conservation and formed a critical component of the Caribbean’s efforts to reverse land degradation by reducing environmental stress at project demonstration sites. The IWEco Project utilised innovative water, land, and ecosystem management interventions; enhanced livelihood opportunities for surrounding communities from improved ecosystem services; and enhanced knowledge exchange, promotion of best practices, replication, and stakeholder involvement.

According to a 2018 report from the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), 30% of degraded land in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) worldwide and more than 14% of the two billion hectares of degraded land in the world can be found in the Caribbean region. Given these alarming statistics and considering the sensitivity of the ecosystems within the North-East area of Trinidad, focusing attention on the restoration and rehabilitation of the degraded quarry areas was deemed to be of high priority by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago (GORTT) and, therefore, the focus of the IWEco National sub-Project (IWEcoTT).

Trinidad and Tobago is truly honoured to have been one of 10 SIDS participating in the GEF-IWEco Project and acknowledge that IWEcoTT contributed to the country’s Land Degradation Neutrality Target Setting Programme, thus meeting our obligations under the UNCCD. This Project also supports the global Sustainable Development Goals, Trinidad and Tobago’s National Environmental Policy (2018) and Vision 2030, which places the environment at the centre of social and economic development.