Environmental degradation remains a major issue for Trinidad and Tobago. The country experiences many environmental problems, from flooding, widespread pollution of its waterways and coastal areas, illegal dumping, deforestation, excessive soil erosion, fisheries and wildlife depletion. As a Small Island Developing State (SIDS), Trinidad and Tobago is highly vulnerable to natural disasters like tropical storms, earthquakes, floods and droughts, as well as climate change and sea level rise.
The GEF Small Grants Programme embodies the very essence of sustainable development by "thinking globally acting locally.” By providing financial and technical support to projects that conserve and restore the environment while enhancing people’s well-being and livelihoods, SGP demonstrates that community action can maintain the fine balance between human needs and environmental imperatives. SGP recognizes that environmental degradation such as the destruction of ecosystems and the species that depend upon them, increasing levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in our atmosphere, pollution of international waters, land degradation and the spread of persistent organic pollutants and chemicals are life-threatening challenges that endanger us all.
Promoting environmental awareness, mitigation and adaption
Focus is now needed on both mitigation and adaptation. One of the ways in which UNDP promotes energy-efficiency and use of alternatives is through the GEF Small Grants Programme by providing financial and technical support to projects that conserve and restore the environment while enhancing people’s well-being and livelihoods, SGP demonstrates that community action can maintain the fine balance between human needs and environmental imperatives. The SGP Country Programme Strategy for 2013-2014 is to focus emphasis on the following:
- Education and increased advocacy on environmental issues
- Capacity building and institutional strengthening;
- The promotion of evidenced-based practices
- The creation of mechanisms for sharing information and knowledge to promote learning, improve organizational practices and achieve successful outcomes;
- Increasing monitoring and evaluation of all projects to capture and shear lessons learnt from the implementation of community based projects.
Projects and Initiatives
GEF SGP: Small Grants Programme
Over the last two decades, SGP has linked matters of local, national and global importance through a transparent, participatory and country driven yet globally coherent approach to community based project planning, design and implementation. Grants are approved by a voluntary, multi stakeholder National Steering Committee. Grants are made directly to CBOs and NGOs in recognition of the key roles they play as a resource and constituency for sustainable development concerns. The decentralised structure of SGP encourages maximum country and community initiative and ownership, and the local demand-driven nature of SGP projects contributes to future sustainability.
The programme is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) as a corporate programme, implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on behalf of the GEF partnership, and executed by the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS).The programme provides grants of up to US$50,000 directly to local communities including indigenous people, community-based organizations and other non-governmental groups for projects in: Biodiversity, Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation, Land Degradation and Sustainable Forest Management, International Waters and Chemicals.
Local to global chemical management coalitions: Caura Valley Community Based Integrated Management Initiative: Decreasing the use of Persistent Organic Pollutants in the Caura Valley
The Caura Valley Farmers Association (CVFA) designed this project to promote environmentally friendly methods for crop protection and production while empowering local farmers by enhancing their literacy. Research focused on eliminating the use of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and highly and moderately hazardous pesticides (WHO class 1b and II). CVFA catalysed implementation of improved crop protection and production practices through polyculture field trials, research into soil improvement techniques and decreased pesticide use, together with sensitisation workshops for both farmers and consumers. The Caura farmers also networked locally, regionally and internationally to promote the exchange of information on ecological crop management initiatives. Capacity building included basic, numeric and computer literacy courses, as well as discussions and lectures on polyculture and farming practices, including the integration of indigenous cultural practices. The result has been the development of an alternative eco-friendly crop management strategy with increased profitability and reduced dependency on imported resources.
Low carbon energy access co-benefits: United Nations Association of Trinidad and Tobago (UNATT) - Mainstreaming renewable energy resources in secondary school laboratories and raising youth awareness on diversified alternative energy solutions in Trinidad and Tobago
The main objective of the UNATT project was to mainstream alternative energy in the secondary school system in Trinidad and Tobago by implementing solar energy devices in schools located in different communities across the country. The project aimed to directly reduce Green House Gas Emissions (GHGEs) as a consequence of the adoption and direct application of solar energy. By working with the schoold, this project was able to reach out to several communities, strengthening capacity at various levels. Students and teachers were encouraged to share their knowledge and experience with their families and their wider community.
The project was successful and produced notable results. Eight solar generating systems have been installed and are operating successfully in eight schools. One solar still has been procured and installed in one of the Secondary schools. A workshop with representatives from the schools was held to discuss the project results and lessons learnt. There have been many discussions with the Ministry of Energy and Energy Affairs regarding setting up a programme to install solar systems in other schools. A DVD was also produced focusing on solar generating systems and the general aspects of the project. These have been distributed to the main project stakeholders. UNATT was successful on their application for a GEF SGP Strategic Project to replicate an upscale scope of the project, which is currently in effect.