The Gambia has been allocated US$8.7 million to spend on land degradation, biodiversity and climate change between now until 2014.
The funding, generated through the Global Environment Facility (GEF) 5 STAR Allocation, will devout $4.57 million to the management of land degradation, under the United Nations Climate Change Desertification Convention (UNCCD); $2 million on biodiversity, under the auspices of the UN Convention on Biodiversity (UNCBD); and $1.5 million on climate change mitigation, within the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
On Wednesday, the National Environment Agency (NEA) kick-started a three-day validation of the Gambia National Portfolio Formulation Exercise (NPFE) for the GEF, a document it had already formulated in consultation with the relevant authorities, including the grassroots.
The NEA said a recruited team of consultants has since embarked on an extensive countrywide consultation meeting to sensitise key stakeholders on the GEF project, among them local government authorities, cabinet ministers, the UN Development Programme and civil society partners. Thus, the NEA said the validation, ending August 19, 2011 will involve a “holistic brainstorming” while working towards achieving a final output document of the National Portfolio Formulation Document (NPFD).
Speaking during the opening, the NEA executive director Mr Momodou B. Sarr said the financial support by GEF for the NPFE aims to strengthening country ownership over decisions on GEF resources programming; to align the programming of GEF resources with other national strategies and planning processes; and to increase responsiveness to country priorities for generating global environmental benefits under the multilateral environment conventions.
Mr Sarr, who is also the National Operation Focal Point for GEF added that the GEF is also meant to identify projects and programmatic approaches that will use national allocations under the STAR; bring together ministries and representatives of other stakeholders to provide input on decisions regarding GEF resource programming; and to enhance the mainstreaming of global environment concerns into other national planning processes.
When he took his turn, the Minister of Forestry and the Environment said the Government of the Gambia (GTOG) has been engaged in significant environmental policy formulation to reduce the effects of climate change, land degradation and biodiversity loss.
“We are one of the leading pioneers of environmental conservation in sub-Saharan Africa,” Minister Jatto Sillah claims. “The Gambia is a party to all the three Rio Conventions on Biodiversity, Climate Change and Desertification. We ratified the Convention on Biodiversity and Climate Change on 10th June 1994 and that of Land degradation on 11th June 1996.”
According to him, this is a manifestation of government’s commitment to environmental management and development. “We also pledged to improve the health and quality of life of all Gambians through sound environmental management and to preserve and restore the equilibrium of ecological processes in accordance with the Banjul Declaration of February 18, 1977.
The NPFE is the result of long and hard discussion among recipient countries on the need to control the manner in which the GEF projects are conceptualized. "The GEF projects have always been conceived at UN Agencies such as the World Bank, UNDP UNEP among others. With beneficiary countries being involved only at the later stages of the project after project concepts have already been developed," the NEA said.
"In some instances the project ideas are not always in line with national priorities."
· Author: Modou S. Joof, for The Voice Newspaper