On February 14, 2013, the Global Environment Facility’s Small Grants Country Programme was formally launched in Saint Lucia. The event took place at Pigeon Island National Landmark, which is one of Saint Lucia’s key historic sites and a protected area. Participants included members of the government and development agencies such as Senator James Fletcher, Minister of the Public Sector, Sustainable Development, Science and Technology; Honorable Harold Dalson, Minister of Social Transformation, Local Government and Community Empowerment; Ms. Michelle Gyles-McDonnough, UNDP Resident Representative to Barbados and the OECS; Monsieur Michel Prom, French Ambassador to Barbados and the OECS; Ms. Debora Worrell, the Political Officer from the British High Commissioner’s Office in Saint Lucia; and Mr. James Chang, Ambassador from the Embassy of the Republic of China. Also present were members of the National Steering Committee of SGP Saint Lucia, the civil society, the academia, the private sector, and the media.
The ceremony started with welcoming remarks by Ms. Veronica Simon, the chair of the National Steering Committee (NSC) of SGP in Saint Lucia, who introduced the other members of the NSC and stated that SGP Saint Lucia will in the future be focusing on scaling up best practices developed by SGP grantees. Ms. Michelle Gyles-McDonnough, UNDP’s Resident Representative expressed her enthusiasm and delight to formally launch SGP in Saint Lucia and highlighted the importance of developing the capacities within and among CSOs to understand and address environmental and sustainable development issues. She also highlighted the importance of mentorship and knowledge exchange in SGP Saint Lucia as a means to help develop capacity within and among CSOs, including the formation of a Sub-regional Technical Advisory Panel among SGP countries in the Eastern Caribbean to help share lessons and create greater cooperation and synergies among them. She also reaffirmed UNDP’s commitment to assist the GEF SGP in Saint Lucia and the OECS.
The Minister of Social Transformation appealed to CSOs to take advantage of the fast delivery mechanism of the GEF SGP while stating his interest in looking for ways in which the Ministry and SGP can collaborate in capacity development activities. Senator James Fletcher welcomed the formal launch of GEF SGP at a “. . . juncture when the world economy continued to languish in the quagmire of recession“ and at a point when there is wide understanding that sustainable development is the responsibility of all, including communities, as well as the private and the public sectors. Senator Fletcher further noted that US$2 million dollars would be available to CSOs until the end of 2014 and encouraged the local SGP team to leverage as much co-financing as possible. He concluded by encouraging GEF SGP Saint Lucia to ensure that there is careful documentation of the best practices, innovations and lessons learned, as the basis to build on for the future development of the programme and for replication and scaling up purposes.
The programme was not only punctuated with speeches from officials, but the first five grantees were all given the opportunity to talk about their projects and to publicly receive their first cheque.
Of these five projects, two were in biodiversity conservation, two in Climate Change and one on Chemicals. The total GEF SGP contribution to the projects is US$139,260 (XCD$376,002) which had already attracted a total of US$$124,303 (XCD$335,618) in cash and in-kind co-funding.
Saint Lucia’s premier operatic singer, Mr. Blaise Pascal, a member of Act Now Generation which is an SGP grantee, performed a series of songs at the event. He also presented a performance by a group of young children who serenaded the audience with a song selected from Saint Lucia’s diverse Kwéyὸl Heritage repertoire to fit the occasion.
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