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Monday, June 19, 2006 

Region linked through new GEF SGP communications system
Web Posted - Tue Jun 20 2006

THE second component of the Global Environmental Facility's (GEF) Special Grant Programme's (SGP) sub-regional structure and its complementary communications system were officially launched at the United Nations Marine Gardens headquarters, yesterday morning. With the new structure, the selection and approval of projects for funding will no longer reside with the Sub-Regional Steering Committee based in Barbados, but will now be the responsibility of the National Focal Group (NFG) in each island.

Each NFG will be assisted by a National Focal Person, whose substantial volunteer contribution will include serving as secretary to the NFG and technical advisor to Civil Society Organisations (CSOs). With these changes, the Sub-Regional Steering Committee will now serve as a reservoir of technical support, a guardian of Operational Guidelines and a reviewer and approver of trans-boundary projects. As a result, this structure is expected to help to bring project funds and technical assistance to CSOs in their communities where they are needed most in the quickest possible time.

Speaking at the official launch yesterday was United Nations Development Programme's (UNDP) Resident Representative (Barbados and the OECS) Dr. Rosina Wiltshire, who noted the importance of bridging the spatial gap in the region.

This comes, she says, during a time when many significant issues have emerged to be conquered in the Caribbean. These include social, economic and political inequalities; the feminisation of poverty, unemployment of the youth; health issues such as HIV/AIDS; terms of trade in light of globalisation and the creation of a Caribbean civilisation, which is based on knowledge creation.

What we have come to realise is that in a region with a scarcity of trained human resources, our survival must be based on the expectation that those with more must help those with little, and what better way to assist than through volunteerism.

We must learn from the lessons of history that our greatest strides were made when we came together to help each other in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges, she said.

The technical component of the structure is the subregional communications system, which will serve as a primary artery of communications. This system uses a multipoint interface which allows for not simply person-to-person audio and webcam communications, but also for up to ten persons from throughout the sub-region communicating with each other.
According to the resident representative, This system is cost-effective; provides a conduit for real-time professional advice for CSOs; serves as a medium for learning and sharing knowledge; and provides a broad network of support.

Dr. Wiltshire thanked all the volunteers who helped to make this programme a success.

Barbados Advocate ©2000

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