New environmental alliance launched in the Caribbean

New environmental alliance launched in the Caribbean

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

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"KARIPANOU" or "Our Caribbean" is the newest alliance formed to support environmental sustainability in the Caribbean.

The Karipanou alliance -- launched in Montego Bay on October 8 -- was created to engage Caribbean people more in the governance and management of the natural resources in the region.

Three organisations comprise the new alliance: the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI) from Trinidad and Tobago; Panos Caribbean, which is headquartered in Haiti; and the Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES) from the University of the West Indies in Cave Hill, Barbados. The three organisations found that they have a shared vision and values about what they want to see happen in Caribbean natural resources management.

Spokespersons for the alliance expressed excitement about the prospects for Karipanou's impact in the region.

Jan Voordouw, executive director of Panos Caribbean, felt that the combined efforts of the three organisations would generate innovative activities and engage more people across the region.

"We are looking at poverty, natural resource management and climate change, for instance. Karipanou will engage more people in policy and governance on environmental issues. The three different entities coming together with three different strengths will make our impact much stronger," he said.

Panos Caribbean is an information broker on behalf of marginalised people around the region. Since 1986, Panos has been helping poor people and marginalised groups to communicate their own perspectives on development issues. Panos' themes cover children's rights, gender issues, health and the environment.

Leornard Nurse, senior lecturer at CERMES and co-author of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on climate change, noted that Karipanou would document and share information on environmental concerns in the different Caribbean countries.

Karipanou will replicate lessons learned. Its initial geographic focus is the Caribbean islands, including the independent and dependent English, French, Creole, Dutch, and Spanish speaking islands.

As a research institution, CERMES facilitates sustainable development in the Caribbean through graduate education, applied research and projects. CERMES graduates work all around the Caribbean region, some in government and most in education.

Nicole Leotaud, executive director of CANARI, explained Karipanou's approach for carrying out its mission. She said Karipanou is moving away from the limitations of short-term project-driven interventions. It will facilitate a more "programmatic" and long-term approach to participatory natural resource governance in the Caribbean.

"I see this approach as much more comprehensive and adaptable. We would dedicate ourselves towards achieving an overall goal while giving room for deciding how best to achieve this," she said.

CANARI was established in 1989 to promote equitable participation and collaboration in managing natural resources. Its programmes focus on civil society and governance, forests and livelihoods, coastal and marine governance, climate change and disaster risk reduction.

In explaining CANARI's participation in Karipanou she said, "CANARI has particular strengths in facilitating participatory processes that connect people from all sectors and across countries. We help them to share ideas and listen to each other with respect, and ultimately build consensus on complex decisions about how natural resources should be managed."

"Working together with Panos Caribbean and CERMES, we will be able to expand the breadth and depth of our work and strengthen the results that we achieve," Leotaud added.

Karipanou focuses on the relationships between natural resources, various stakeholders, poverty and adaptation to climate change. The alliance has already been working.

The first activity began in Dominica. Fisherfolk from the Soufriere Scott's Head Marine Reserve have organised themselves to find a balance between over-fishing and making a living. CERMES is documenting the lessons from the fisherfolk's efforts to manage their marine resources. They have so far uncovered inconsistencies in the laws and procedures that govern marine resources in Dominica. The fishermen also need support to implement a new management plan.

Karipanou will be supporting the Dominican fishermen in their efforts. Representatives of the Karipanou alliance were in Dominica in July 2010 to validate the research findings from the Soufriere Scott's Head Marine Reserve.

Christopher Corbin, the United Nations Environment Programme's UNEP'S) programme officer for assessment and management of environmental pollution, welcomed the announcement of the alliance. He said that UNEP is very open to work with Karipanou, since it already has collaborations with all three organisations. He believed that together, UNEP and Karipanou could become more effective.

"Karipanou" is derived from the Haitian creole words "Karayib" meaning "Caribbean" and "pa nou" meaning "ours".

-- Panos Caribbean

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