GEF/IWCAM Project Officially launched

Joint Missions of the implementing agencies were in Trinidad and Tobago on November 14 and 15 respectively to officially launch the National Demonstration Project for the GEF-funded Integrated Watershed and Coastal Area Management (IWCAM) Project. The Tobago leg of the launch was held at the Mt. Irvine Bay Hotel and included presentations by Patricia Aquing of the Caribbean Environmental Health Institute (CEHI), Christopher Corbin of UNEP CAR/RCU, and Paula Caballero of UNDP/GEF. Dr. Owen Day and Hyacinth Armstrong of the Buccoo Reef Trust provided an overview of the National Demonstration Project whose activities will directly address environmental impacts of sedimentation and nutrient pollution on the Buccoo Reef Marine Park, and also result in the development of a draft IWCAM policy for Tobago. They also stressed that the successful implementation and completion of this project lies in the collaborations that will be nurtured amongst the various stakeholders of this natural resource.

Youth for Environmental Awareness of Habitats (YEAH) and the Plymouth Warriors Speech Band gave performances that ensured the voices and concerns of the young people were heard loud and clear. Additional greetings were brought to the small gathering of Tobago House of Assembly (THA) representatives, media and other stakeholders, by Michael J. Keens-Dumas, Chief Administrator, THA, who praised the funding and implementing agencies for choosing this initiative to further protect the recently instated Ramsar site. The Honourable Stanford Callender, Minister for Tobago Affairs in the Office of the Prime Minister gave the feature address and expressed gratitude at the timely intervention of this project. He indicated that this project would address what people of Tobago and by extension Trinidad and Tobago have become painfully aware of – human activities at sea and particularly on land have put tremendous pressure on the environment and the marine life affecting both the flora and fauna of the sea. He also pledged government’s full support for the upcoming activities.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has been signed by the Buccoo Reef Trust and the UNEP, with the hope that the Demonstration project will commence sometime within the next few months.