Honouring keepers of the environment
SUSTAINABLE environmental management cannot be achieved without the assistance of communities all over Jamaica who must be made aware of their role in protecting and preserving Jamaica’s natural resources.
Because communities are the real keepers of the environments said home office project manager of the Coastal Water Quality Improvement Project (CWIP), Jan Auman.
Auman was addressing the Discovery Bay Marine Laboratory’s Community Animation graduation ceremony. The training programme was funded by CWIP — a bilateral initiative between the government of Jamaica’s Natural Resources Conservation Authority (NRCA), and the United States Government through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), aimed at improving coastal water quality here in Jamaica.
CWIP is using, as a tool for promoting sustainable development, community animation — a process by which training of residents lead and stimulate fraternal community living, and encourage activities as well as actions that reduce negative impacts on the environment.
Noting that effective natural resources management is about people and not science or technology, Auman said, “It is about how people appreciate, respect and care for the world around them. You cannot legislate or force respect for your environment. It is only through an understanding of the economic, social and cultural value that the natural environment has to offer an individual that effective natural resources management will be produced.”
It is for this reason Auman said, that the training of community animators is a major strategic element of CWIP’s approach to sustainable environmental management.
Selena Tapper, executive director of the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica (EFJ), described the animators as “the keepers of the flame of community life”.
She told graduates that all the skills learnt including lessons in environmental education, conflict management and dispute resolution, community development will go together to create the flame which they will use to light the fire of development in their communities.
Tapper said that the process of animating and then developing a community is dynamic and long-term and we all have to determine “what leg of the relay we will run, how much work we can actually accomplish and what it is we would like to achieve in our time.”
Pointing to the fame and success now being enjoyed by the Walkers Wood community effort — Walkerswood Caribbean Foods — Tapper said, “many persons do not realise that the Walkerswood community has a history of community development action which goes back to the 1940s and that Walkerswood Caribbean Foods has celebrated 21 years of operation.”
She told the graduates that as they carry the flame, they should strive to keep it alive and they will be rewarded by knowing that they are remaking a valuable and lasting contribution to their country’s development.
Audrey Luke, valedictorian, concurred.
She thanked CWIP and the various partners and trainers for 28 “valuable and informative” days in which she said, the participants had been made more environmentally aware, their self-esteem had been enhanced and they had been equipped with the tools “to go and contribute in a more meaningful way to a clean and healthy environment”.
The graduates, she said, were committed “to not only sharing the information derived from this training, but to being active partners and forerunners in the effort to provide a safe and clean environment.”