The environmental problems facing the world are too difficult for any one country to handle alone. But through arrangements like Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) nations can work together to tackle these issues.
MEAs are agreements among three or more states that assist with addressing specific environmental problems at national, regional and global levels. These kinds of environmental issues require multilateral action in order to be effective, and MEAs set out the objectives and rules describing what each country is expected to do about them.
The best-known MEAs are those that deal with global problems, such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Kyoto Protocol and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
Key features of MEAs include:
- A primary objective, addressing one or more clearly defined environmental problem. A MEA may also have a secondary objective, such as poverty reduction or sustainable development
- They are expressed in written form in a document that is approved by each country’s parliament (or similar)
- They are governed by international law
One international source of funds that assists developing countries in the implementation of MEAs is the Global Environment Facility (GEF). The GEF is a trust fund that was established 30 years ago on the eve of the Rio Earth Summit to tackle the planet’s most pressing environmental problems, such as biodiversity, climate change, chemicals and desertification. Since then, it has provided more than US$21.5 billion in grants and mobilised an aadditional US$117 billion in co-financing for more than 5,000 projects and programmes. Through its Small Grants Programme, the GEF has provided support to more than 25,000 civil society and community initiatives in 135 countries.
Through GEF funding T&T has implemented 14 national projects with total financing of more than US$16 million and total co-financing of more than US$69 million. One such project is the Capacity Development for Improved Management of MEAs for Global Environmental
Benefits project, which was funded by the GEF and implemented by the Ministry of Planning and Development (MPD) in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). This project conducted several capacity building initiatives directed towards government agencies, civil society organisations (CSOs), the private sector and the general public. These included:
- Comprehensive review of policy and legislation related to MEA implementation to make recommendations for improved alignment with MEA obligations
- Mapping and capacity assessment of CSOs with respect to their implementation of MEAs and ability to access the Green Fund of Trinidad and Tobago (GFTT)
- Training on MEA obligations delivered to government agencies, CSOs and the Green Fund Executing Unit (GFEU)
- Development of a website on MEAs for information, awareness building and stakeholder consultation (meastt.gov.tt)
- Development and implementation of a programme to improve project and organisational capacity of CSOs
The MEA Unit (MEAU) at the MPD is the entity tasked with coordinating the implementation of MEAs in Trinidad and Tobago. Although the MPD is the spearhead of these activities the entire nation needs to play a role in achieving the goals set out in the MEAs, including the rest of the public sector, the private sector, as well as non-governmental organisations and community-based groups
To learn more about this project and the MPD's work on the implementation of MEAs please click the following link. https://youtu.be/pUV6BgasNHc