Community-based organisations may now access funding for environmental projects from the Global Environment Facility (GEF), through the United Nations Development Programme.

Minister of the Environment and Drainage, Dr. Denis Lowe, made this disclosure, noting that his Ministry was the GEF Operational Focal Point, and would continue to provide assistance to such organisations in achieving their endeavours.

Last month???s presentation of funds to the St. Marks Primary School for its project, Under the Bearded Fig Tree; the West Terrace Primary School, the Barbados National Trust for its Welchman Hall Gully Conservation and Education Project; Project Discovery – Caribbean Youth Forum on Environment and Development; and the Soroptimist International of Jamestown for its project, Enhance and Embrace Your Environment, represented the last disbursement of funds from the Ministry???s Grant.

Dr. Lowe explained that the Cabinet of Barbados endorsed the reallocation of US $250,000 a year from Barbados??? total allocation in the GEF to its Small Grants Programme.

??????This grant facility was created to address global environmental issues at the community level by focusing on key areas such as biodiversity conservation, climate change mitigation, prevention of land degradation, the elimination of persistent organic pollutants and the protection of international waters,??? the Minister explained.

However, he stressed that the GEF Small Grants Programme would involve two critical objectives, the development of community-level strategies and the implementation of technologies which could reduce threats to the global environment.

He added that the programme would also see the building of partnerships and networks of stakeholders to support and strengthen community, non-governmental organisations, and national capacities to address global environmental problems, and promote sustainable development.

Dr. Lowe added a Small Grants National Coordinator was recruited, and Barbados??? Country Strategy was completed, and urged community-based organisations to continue seeking assistance through the UNDP programme.

??????Community-based organisations are integral to the management of our shared environmental resources. It is, therefore, through collaboration and progressive actions among civil society institutions in partnership with government and business, that Barbados will realise our national goal of becoming the most advanced green country in Latin America and the Caribbean,??? Dr. Lowe said.

He added that the Fund for Non-Profit Organisations was established to offer support through financial and technical assistance to community-based organisations desirous of embarking on projects with a focus on sustainable livelihoods development, education and environmental care.

The Fund was also chosen as a tool to promote innovative thinking and action at the community level, and to provide a leveraging mechanism to assist in scaling up of investment from non-traditional sources for projects of national importance.

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