By Alkinky Sanyang
The Gambia hosts the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Sahel West Africa meeting with a view to keeping stakeholders abreast with its strategies, policies and procedures, and to encourage coordination of efforts towards global environmental protection.
This regional dialogue provides stakeholders with the opportunity to interact with the staff from GEF Secretariat and agencies to discuss priority issues and share lessons, experiences and best practices.
The four-day conference will help The Gambia share her experiences, challenges and constraints in programming and implementation of GEF projects, according to Lamin Dibba, minister of environment, climate change and natural resources during the official opening of the forum at a local hotel in Brufut.
He noted with great concern that the continent of Africa suffers the most of current environmental challenges ranging from climate change impacts, land degradation, loss of biodiversity and the associated socio-economic and livelihood losses.
In our West Africa sub-region, he said, the extent of climate change impacts, loss of biodiversity and land degradation have impacted negatively on the lives and livelihood of vulnerable communities, whose capacity to adapt to those impacts are hampered by poverty.
“Our sub-region`s biodiversity is at risk of depletion due to continuous habitat destruction and increased urbanisation and cultivation” he stated.
He said the sub-region is faced with challenges on waste management issues, sanitation and public health related problems.
He said The Gambia like many other developing countries, the burden of climate change impacts with its associated environmental and socio-economic losses continue to drive our natural resource degradation faster than ever in recent years due to increase in human population that results to an increase in urbanisation and dependence on the limited resources.
“The decline in annual average rainfall and high consumption rates of our forest resources continue to negatively impact on the lives and livelihood of vulnerable countries,” the minister stressed.
In order to address these challenges, he said preservation and protection measures of the highest level of our governments must be adhered to through national policies, programmes and legislations that are geared towards enhancing regional cooperation and collaboration for the present and future generations.
“In The Gambia, such policies include the current National Development Plan 2018 – 2021, which clearly identifies promoting environmental sustainability, climate resilient communities and appropriate land use as a critical enabler for the attainment of our sustainable development agenda over the period,” he noted.
Dibba agrees that addressing global environmental challenges is a collective responsibility and every individual, group, community, organisation, country and region have a role to play.
“We can make a difference in addressing the global environmental challenges..” he maintained.
Dodou Trawalley, the executive director of the National Environment Agency (NEA), disclosed that GEF funds are available to developing countries and countries with economies in transition to meet the objectives of the international environmental conventions and agreements.
“The support is also provided to government agencies, civil society organisations, NGOs, private sector companies, research institutions, among the broad diversity of potential partners, to implement projects and programs in recipient countries,” he stated.