The Global Environment Facility (GEF) is being called upon to play a greater role in assisting small island developing states (SIDS).

Minister of the Environment and Drainage, Dr. Denis Lowe, made this call as he addressed the opening ceremony of the 7th Biennial Global Environment Facility International Waters Conference at Hilton Barbados today.

???Barbados believes that there is real need for special and deliberate consideration of SIDS issues within the GEF development framework, of which the replenishment process is a part,??? he said.

Dr. Lowe told delegates that Barbados and other members of the GEF Caribbean constituency had seen positive changes with more projects representing direct responses to national issues and challenges coming on stream.

???In our own case, Barbados has expanded its national GEF Small Grants Programme as a measure to enhance engagement with the civil society community in furthering the national sustainable development aspiration,??? he said, adding that the programme was now receiving projects for funding evaluation.

However, he stressed that despite the positives more must and can be done to support SIDS. ???We believe that the ongoing replenishment process is an important and appropriate forum within which this matter should be raised and addressed,??? he said.

The Minister expressed the hope that financial commitments agreed on for the 6th Replenishment of the GEF Trust Fund would exceed, or match those pledged for the previous stage.

???As a financing mechanism for several of these environmental agreements, it may be argued that the Global Environment Facility is uniquely placed to assist SIDS in bridging the gap between environmental and socio-economic vulnerability on one hand, and environmental stewardship responsibility on the other,??? he stated.

Dr. Lowe added that with global biodiversity assets continuing to decline, and the imposed challenges associated with climate change increasing in intensity and frequency of occurrence, support for the GEF to exercise its mandate required no less than favourable consideration.

He noted that the conference???s theme: Economic Valuation as a Tool to Bridge the Science-Policy Gap was relevant for the region and the SIDS community in general.

Pointing out that 2013 was the year for International Water Cooperation, Dr. Lowe said the conference provided Barbados with an opportunity to be a part of the process of sharing global information, and to allow the country to move forward. ???It also gives us the opportunity to lobby the GEF system for the resources and their partner the UNDP [United Nations Development Programme], for resources to supplement the Government???s effort in pushing a lot of these programmes,??? he said.

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