THE Green Fund is vastly underutilised. This is the contention of Senior Technical Officer, Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI), Anna Cadiz-Hadeed, who was one of the presenters at the recent Tobago Environmental Partnership Conference.
Cadiz-Hadeed’s presentation assessed the contributions of civil society organisations in fulfilling the objectives of the Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) to which TT is a signatory.
Cadiz-Hadeed, who is also a consultant with the Ministry of Planning and Development, revealed there is over $6 billion in the Green Fund, according to the latest Auditor General’s report in September 2018. She said of that sum, over $373 million has, to date, been allocated to 23 projects.
“This means that over 93 per cent of our Green Fund has not been utilised,” she told participants at the conference, which was held at Mt Irvine Bay Resort. Further, Cadiz-Hadeed said 77 per cent of the $373 million went to state agencies.
“And so there is a need to try to support the civil society more.”
Cadiz-Hadeed, who has over ten years of experience in sustainable development and participatory natural resource management, also said her assessment revealed there is no money to fund the Green Fund’s website and it also does not have a Facebook page.
“When we ask why the Green Fund does not have a website, the response is that they don’t have the financial resources. So, the unit is under-resourced.” She said out of the 24 eligible staff positions within the fund, only eight are currently filled.
“That is a huge human resource gap there. So, out of the $6 billion that sits within the Green Fund right now, none of that money goes towards the management of the fund.” Cadiz-Hadeed said her assessment revealed there is a need to increase the number and quality of applications groups and organisations.
“Why aren’t more projects being funded?” She said respondents also found the application process to be onerous and difficult to complete. Cadiz-Hadeed said there is no legally-stipulated time frame to review applications. “In talking to at least 100 CSOs in TT, they said they submitted applications that have been stuck in the system. Fifty-three said they were not sure at what stage their application was at.”