By Shelton Daniel
The Department of Environment (DOE) here in Antigua and Barbuda is collaborating with the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI) to launch a project aimed at (and named) “Enhancing Caribbean Civil Society’s Access and Readiness to Climate Finance.”
The DOE is on board as the Nationally Designated Agency (NDA), while CANARI is the Implementing Partner Agency for this project, which is funded by the Green Climate Fund (GCF).
The virtual launch – scheduled for tomorrow, Thursday 25th February 2021 from 10:00 a.m. to midday – will be conducted via Zoom.
Ms. Refica Attwood, Executive Director of the Wallings Nature Reserve Inc., is Antigua and Barbuda’s National Project Coordinator and Civil Society Liaison for this project.
She and Daryl George, Senior Environment Officer in the DOE, spoke Tuesday morning about the project on PointeFM’s Starting Pointe programme.
She lamented that, “Too often things like this are started in Antigua and Barbuda and we are not known to have a good track record that we finish. The Department of Environment has been dragged and slung through the mud by persons who do not understand the red tape that they have to work along with to get things done.”
Attwood said this was the reason for CANARI’s involvement as an independent implementation agency, not in any way connected with government, whose work could continue even if there were a change in administration.
The project aims to bring together all civil society organizations – including churches and other community-based groups – to provide capacity training and the development of skillsets so that when access to financing becomes available they will be in a position to utilize such opportunities.
One of the main areas for such capacity building and skillsets development is in training persons how to write project proposals in order to source grant financing; and the correct way to write, structure and submit reports that satisfy the accountability requirements of donors.
According to George, “Grant writing is a very important factor.… Many of these international agencies, when they do provide funding at a country level, it also includes funding for community organizations. What we want to ensure is that these community organizations are able to access those finances at their maximum level. Some of the issues that we run into is that we’re already offering funding. But, for example, a lot of churches and community organizations aren’t used to writing [grant proposals] and that is a particular skill in and of itself.”
It is hoped that one of outcomes from the launch of this project will be the formation of a national coalition of civil society organizations that can access funding collectively from international donors.
Attwood explained that the push for funding is also seeking to “bridge the gap” between the expectation that people engaged in environmental support work should provide their services voluntarily and the realistic need for some compensation in instances where measurable costs are involved.
“Even if it’s a stipend, you need persons to be motivated. We are looking at ensuring that every time a civil society organization accesses finance, they can write in a section that focusses on human resource, without which the project cannot be done properly.”