Bahamas Information Services Updates
Minister Dorsett addresses opening of the GEF Small Grants Workshop
By Gena Gibbs
Sep 20, 2012 - 10:54:53 PM

From left: Philip Weech, GEF Operational Focal Point; Dr. Betsy Boze, President, The College of The Bahamas; Mr. Manuel Messina, IICA Bahamas Office; The Hon. Kendred Dorsett, Minister of the Environment; Mrs. Rochelle Newbold, Chair, GEF SGP National Steering Committee and U.S. Chargé d’Affaires, John Dinkelman.

Nassau, The Bahamas - Sustaining the environment with international grant money for civic implementation and development is the Ministry of the Environment and Housing's new approach to attracting local cooperation for its Multilateral Environment Agreements (MEAs).

"In our Charter for Governance, my Government will continue to emphasise the importance of the protection of our environment and the conservation of our natural resources, oceans, and undeveloped land, continue to fight to safeguard our environment, and continue making a concerted effort to keep the country clean and to ensure that we leave The Bahamas in a state that is fit to be passed on to future Bahamians," said the Hon. Ken Dorsett, Minister of the Environment and Housing, September 17.

The Minister was addressing the opening session of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Grant Writing Capacity Development Three-dayWorkshop in the Harry C. Moore Auditorium at the College of The Bahamas. In addition, US Charge' d' Affairs, John Dinkelman; Dr. Betsy Boze, COB president; Philip Weech, of GEF Focal Point; and Manuel Messina, of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) were also present to offer remarks.

"The GEF Small Grant Programme has committed to providing USD $1,000,000 in grants through the local office through the year 2014. All of these funds will directly benefit local Civil Society organisations and communities needing assistance in the mentioned areas. Under the thematic area of Capacity Development which brings us all here today, the GEF Small Grant Programme is committed to partnering with the Government of The Bahamas, other international organisations such as IICA, the OAS, the US Embassy and the College of The Bahamas to deliver key training that will meet the needs of all local CSOs in the area of grant writing and accessing grant funding."

The workshop gave civil society representatives and Non-Governmental Organisation representatives grant funding to develop training programmes and pertinent skills to operate critical roles in Bahamian civil society for empowering sustainable democracies and building technical capacity in the agriculture sector.

"This year alone the GEF Small Grant Programme has provided grants to support the development of Eco schools here in Nassau and the Family Islands through its grant to the Bahamas Reef Environmental Education Foundation (BREEF). Other grants have been issued to the Bahamas National Trust (BNT), to assist in the development of the Bone Fish Pond National Park and the Moriah Harbour Cay National Park, Exuma, to aid in the removal of invasive alien species and the restoration of mangroves which have been destroyed by encroachment," said Minister Dorsett.

"The GEF Small Grant Programme has supported the lobster fisheries communities of Abaco through a grant to the Friends of the Environment, Abaco, which undertook the 'Size Matters' campaign educating all stakeholders about the need for sustainable catch of lobster fisheries. The GEF Small Grant Programme in The Bahamas has been growing from strength to strength and has continued to expand its reach and support base in the rural communities where such help and assistance is really needed."

Charge' Dinkelman said the Embassy was informed of a need for developing stronger grant management skills, understanding how to develop better strategic plans, and the need for improving monitoring and evaluation practices. Minister Dorsett confirmed the relationship between both The Bahamas and the US by inviting Bahamians to participate in the opportunities of the programme.

"It is my hope and expectation that all of you will take advantage of this opportunity. Before you leave here today are the partnerships that make progress in the environment possible. Look around you and record the fact that the national effort has assembled in one room. The Bahamas Government, BNT, TNC, c immunity based and local organisations ALL in one place to achieve one objective; the continued, sustained progress in our quest for sustainable development."

The collaboration fuels President Obama's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) to implement NGO’s working with the HIV-AIDS community in The Bahamas with projects involving COB, the Organisation of American States (OAS), GEF and other institutions that work to strengthen civil society. The US donation will fund 25 participating organisations and COB now has resources stored in the Harry C. Moore Library to provide for public use.

"Over the past decade and through its strong partnerships led by the BEST Commission through my ministry, The Bahamas has received more than eight to 10 million dollars in grants from the GEF. If we were to also add the financial support bilateral aid organisations or support provided by regional and inter regional sources some 12 to 15 million dollars have been accessed for work to protect our environment. Equally important is the Government's 'In-Kind' support from the BEST Commission, the Department of Marine Resources, Ministry of Agriculture, the Department of Environmental Health Services (DEHS) and our non-governmental partners the Bahamas National Trust, the Nature Conservancy, and The Bahamas Environmental Educational Foundation (BREEF)," said Mr. Dorsett.

Minister Dorsett said the resources were used for a variety of projects and The Bahamas Government can proudly state that ALL funds have been invested locally to better the communities throughout the length and breadth of the Commonwealth, since 2009, providing more than USD $200,000 in grants to local Civil Society Organisations inclusive of Non-Governmental Organisations and Community Based Organisations. The Bahamas GEF Programme addressed the needs of biodiversity, climate change, land degradation, chemicals, international waters, and capacity development.

The US Embassy is a co-sponsor of the three day workshop through a donation of a comprehensive set of resource materials that will be distributed to each of the 25 organisations participating in the training sessions. The College of The Bahamas also received a set of resource materials that will be housed in the Harry C. Moore Library for public access.

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