The Global Environment Facility-funded Caribbean Regional Fund for Wastewater Management (GEF CReW) Project, will participate for the fifth and last time in the Caribbean Water and Wastewater Association’s Annual Conference and Exhibition, October 24—28, 2016, in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. The theme this year is: “Water and Waste Resources: Key Drivers of Sustainable Development in the Caribbean.” This is also CWWA’s 25th Anniversary and GEF CReW will be there to celebrate its productive partnership with the CWWA which has enabled it to expand its circle of water and wastewater partners and champions. CReW will also share its challenges, experiences, achievements and lessons learnt as Caribbean Governments look for future development and investment opportunities.
In addition to the opportunities provided by the Annual Conference and Exhibition, GEF CReW has, since 2012, provided support for the High Level Forum of Ministers (HLF) which has met in parallel with the Conference for the past eleven years. This year HLF 12 will be convened with several ministers with responsibility for water and senior officials present. The Project will again use the opportunity to contribute to the regional dialogue necessary for a more integrated approach to water resource management that includes a focus on the management of wastewater. HLF 12 will identify regional priorities and make recommendations on the way forward.
As GEF CReW winds up, its two implementing agencies, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the United Nations Environment (UNEP), the Project’s regional Execution Agency, UNEP’s Caribbean Environment Programme (CEP) and Secretariat to the Cartagena Convention, along with the participating countries and other project partners, recognize that if the Caribbean is to achieve the new Sustainable Development Goal No. 6: Clean Water and Sanitation, new ways of thinking and acting are required. Success will largely depend upon how well governments, the private sector and civil society work together to find solutions to poor wastewater management.
Through the establishment of revolving funds in Belize, Guyana and Trinidad & Tobago, and a credit enhancement facility in Jamaica, the project established and is now testing and evaluating new and innovative financing modalities for wastewater management projects. CReW resources have been used for capitalization of these financing mechanisms and to provide technical assistance such as design services to ensure that the mechanisms satisfy technical, financial, socio-economic and environmental requirements of the project as well as local governments. Establishment and implementation of these pilot financing mechanisms has been experimental and a learning experience. The experiences, lessons learned and achievements in setting them up will be the focus of GEF CReW’s exhibit at CWWA in 2016.
Additionally, at this year’s event, GEF CReW and the UN Caribbean Environment Programme will be partnering with UNEP’s Global Programme of Action to launch the first ever Caribbean Node for Wastewater Management at an all-day workshop on 27th October. This supports a global initiative of UN Environment entitled the Global Wastewater Initiative (GW2I). CWWA will be the secretariat for the Caribbean Platform which will support improved coordination on wastewater management projects in the Caribbean and build upon the many lessons of the CReW.
GEF CReW has had three objectives: to provide sustainable financing for the wastewater sector; to support policy and legislative reforms, and; to foster regional dialogue and knowledge exchange amongst key stakeholders in the Caribbean. CWWA’s Annual Conference and Exhibit as well as the associated meetings, have been important in helping it to meet all of those objectives. CWWA is among the Project’s valued partners. For this reason, GEF CReW’s exhibit will also introduce CReW+, the project that is being proposed based upon the learning of CReW. This will include more countries and more partners, will be more multi-focal, and will seek more context-specific solutions which address the challenges of wastewater management in an holistic manner using integrated approaches and creating value out of treated wastewater. What better forum to expand the discussion than CWWA 2016!