1 July 2015
GEF CReW 4th Project Steering Committee Meeting to feature Knowledge Exchange
The Global Environment Facility-funded Caribbean Regional Fund for Wastewater Management (GEF CReW) Project will hold the Fourth Meeting of its Project Steering Committee (PSC 4) from 7th – 9th July 2015 in Antigua, Guatemala.
The Project which began in 2011, is an integrated and innovative approach to reducing the negative environmental and human health impacts of untreated wastewater discharges which have negative effects on marine resources and are a threat to the region’s economic development and quality of life of its people.
13 countries in the Wider Caribbean Region benefit from a range of activities implemented through three interlinked components. Through these the Project aims to: provide sustainable financing for the wastewater sector; support policy and legislative reforms, and; foster regional dialogue and knowledge exchange amongst key stakeholders.
Participating countries are: Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Panama, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent & the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad & Tobago. In 2014, over USD 900,000 was spent to assist countries in developing policy, legal and institutional reforms and more than 247 persons were trained in various aspects of wastewater management. The work of GEF CReW has also enhanced partnerships amongst several regional agencies, including CAWASA, GWP-C, CWWA, PAHO, FAO, CDB, IDB and UNEP, as we look for integrated approaches to respond to the water and wastewater challenges in the Wider Caribbean Region.
As it meets for the fourth time, the Project Steering Committee will review Project activities and achievements in 2014, and consider the Work Plan and Budget for 2015. Components 2 and 3 of the Project, executed by UNEP’s Caribbean Regional Coordination Unit (UNEP CAR/RCU), will complete activities by the end of 2015. Component 1, which includes the four Pilot Projects and is executed by the IDB, has been granted an extension until end-2016.
As the project moves towards the completion of most of the regional activities, and as significant progress has been made in the pilot projects, PSC 4 will include two Knowledge Exchanges in which the country experiences and lessons learnt in implementation of the Project will be shared.
According to Alfredo Coello-Vazquez, GEF CReW Project Coordinator, “It is important to capture and document experiences and tacit-know-how that can contribute to better project implementation in the future, as well as offer valuable insights to other countries in the region as they seek to improve their management of wastewater.”
Project partners agree that a great deal of work remains to be done, even as the Project enters its final stages. The meeting will therefore finally look at a replication strategy as a means of continuing the important work begun under GEF CReW which has helped the participating countries move closer to compliance under the Land-based Sources of Marine Pollution (LBS) Protocol.
Christopher Corbin, Assessment of Marine Pollution Officer at UNEP CAR RCU, stresses the importance of continuing support to the countries of the Wider Caribbean Region: “When we started CReW, we realized that the investment required to improve wastewater management and enable countries to meet their obligations under the Protocol for Land Based Sources of Marine Pollution was tremendous. This is just the start of the journey and we need to now build upon the successes of CReW, implement innovative solutions, expand our capacity building efforts and ensure that proposed technological solutions are not only most cost-effective but offer opportunities to look at wastewater as a resource and a revenue earner for the region.”
The final meeting of the GEF CReW PSC is being hosted by the Government of Guatemala through the Ministry of Environment. Participating countries’ National Focal Points and GEF Operational Focal Points as well as the Project’s Implementing Agencies, the Inter-American Development Bank and the United Nations Environment Programme, representatives of the Pilot Executing Agencies, the regional Executing Agency - UNEP’s Caribbean Regional
Coordinating Unit, and the Project Coordinating Group will all consider the way forward. The Caribbean Development Bank and the Caribbean Public Health Agency will also participate.