Community-based projects in the Caribbean tackling climate change - UN

UNITED NATIONS, CMC – The United Nations (UN) says thousands of small-scale, community driven initiatives, including many in the Caribbean, are making “a huge difference” in people’s lives and contributing to efforts to curb global warming.

The UN said that, in early April, 29 countries pledged more than US$5 billion to the UN-backed Global Environment Facility (GEF).

The Fund said this was “record support, providing a major boost to international efforts to protect biodiversity and curb threats to climate change, plastics and toxic chemicals”.

The GEF is a multilateral fund that serves as a financial mechanism for several environmental conventions, including the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.

The UN has its own Small Grants Programme (SGP), which gives up to US$50,000 directly to local communities, “including indigenous peoples, community-based organisations and other non-governmental groups investing in projects related to healing our planet.”

The initiative is implemented in 127 countries by the UN Development Programme (UNDP), which provides technical support to these selected local projects that conserve and restore the environment while enhancing people’s wellbeing and livelihoods, the UN said.

It said over 25,000 projects have been implemented since 1992, the year the GEF started working.

Though the Fund’s projects span the globe, the UN featured a few initiatives that it said are currently improving the future of humankind and wildlife in Latin-America and the Caribbean.

The UN said indigenous women solar engineers are bringing light to rural Belize.

“For people living in cities it is sometimes hard to believe that in 2022 there are still communities that don’t have electricity, but more than 500 million people worldwide don’t have access to this kind of service that many consider ‘basic’”, the UN said.

“This is the reality for people in the District of Toledo, in Belize, where several rural villages lie far away from the national electricity grid making it hard – and costly – to electrify their communities,” it added.

The UN also noted that Hawksbill Sea Turtles are classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as “critically endangered as their population is decreasing around the world.”

For ages, they have been hunted for their eggs and meat, the UN said, adding that “now, they are also at risk from coastal development and our changing climate, among other threats.”

But, the UN said, a small grant 20 years ago has “turned into a big opportunity for this species to thrive in the Caribbean island of Barbados.”

The Barbados Sea Turtle Project, based at the Cave Hill campus of the University of the West Indies, is the home of the regional Marine Turtle Tagging Centre and the wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network.

“Tagging turtles helps scientists and conservationists to track their movements, calculate their growth rates, survival and reproductive output,” said the UN, stating that Barbados is currently home to the second-largest Hawksbill turtle nesting population in the wider Caribbean, with up to 500 females nesting per year.

Turtle nesting occurs on most of the beaches around the island, which, like many in the region, is heavily developed with tourism infrastructure.

“The Barbados Sea Turtle Project tags these creatures, measures them and archives and analyses the data for over 30 coordinated projects in the region,” the UN said. “These research projects inform their conservation activities.”

It said Barbados is now well known for the success of its sea turtle conservation activities.

“The degree to which the Hawksbill population has recovered thus far allows trainees to work with large numbers of turtles and experience the challenges posed by extensive coastal development,” said the UN, disclosing that the widely-renowned project recently received a new small grant from the GEF of US$46,310.

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