Integrating Water, Land and Ecosystem Management in Caribbean Small Island Developing States - GEF IWEco

What's Happening

The Integrating Water, Land and Ecosystems Management in Caribbean Small Island Developing States (GEF-IWEco Project) is a five-year regional project that builds upon the work of previous initiatives, to address water, land and biodiversity resource management as well as climate change.

This multi-focal regional project began in 2016.  It is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and UN Environment (UNEP) is the lead Implementing Agency for national and regional sub-projects, with UNDP also implementing some activities under the Knowledge Management regional sub-project and community-based livelihoods support opportunities associated with the national sub-projects through the GEF-Small Grants Programme.  The Secretariat to the Cartagena Convention, UNEP CAR/RCU and the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) are the co-Executing Agencies. Partnership is a central tenet of the project which is being implemented through a network of international, regional and national partners.

IWEco’s objective is to contribute to the preservation of Caribbean ecosystems that are of global significance and the sustainability of livelihoods through the application of existing proven technologies and approaches that are appropriate for small island developing states through improved fresh and coastal water resources management, sustainable land management and sustainable forest management that also seek to enhance resilience of socio-ecological systems to the impacts of climate change. 

Caribbean SIDS face many challenges

Small landmasses, vulnerable economies, heavy dependence on external energy resources, and rising populations mean that greater efforts must be made if sustainable development is to become a reality.  There is widespread acknowledgement that if the state of Caribbean ecosystems, land and water resources, biodiversity are to improve, more cooperation, partnership and integrated approaches are needed. 

As land degradation and water pollution increase and biodiversity continues to decline in Caribbean SIDS, vulnerability to the effects of climate change will increase.   Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017 wreaked havoc in several islands, emphasising the need for a strong natural resource base to protect and make communities and ecosystems more resilient to the impacts of climate change which are expected to become even more severe in the future.

 Royal Palm Reserve, Negril Morass, Jamaica, site of the Jamaica National Sub-Project


IWEco works through four components:

  1. Development and Implementation of Integrated Targeted Innovative, climate-change resilient approaches in sustainable land management (SLM), integrated water resources management (IWRM) and maintenance of ecosystem services;
  2. Strengthening of the SLM, IWRM and ecosystems Monitoring, and Indicators framework;
  3. Strengthening of the Policy, Legislative and Institutional reforms and capacity building for SLM, IWRM and ecosystem services management taking into consideration climate change resilience building, and
  4. Enhancing knowledge exchange, best practices, replication and stakeholder involvement.

Ten participating  countries:

  • Antigua & Barbuda
  • Barbados
  • Cuba
  • Dominican Republic
  • Grenada
  • Jamaica
  • St. Kitts & Nevis
  • Saint Lucia
  • St. Vincent & the Grenadines
  • Trinidad & Tobago


At the regional level, partnerships will be formalized in five areas:  Governance; Public Awareness/Education; Research; Private Sector, and; Resource Mobilization.  These make a wide range of resources and expertise available to participating countries both during and beyond the project and help the region build capacity.


National Sub-Projects

Eight of the participating countries are implementing national sub-projects which are interventions that apply the project approach to management of water, land and ecosystem management at specific sites.  They include small-scale investments supported by the GEF-Small Grants Programme in order to enhance livelihood opportunities and socio-economic co-benefits for targeted communities from improved ecosystem services functioning.  Project sites include the upper reaches of the Soufriere Watershed in Saint Lucia, the Cedar Grove and Cooks Watershed areas and McKinnons Pond in Antigua, and the Negril Morass in Jamaica.


Selected former quarry sites are being rehabilitated in the Valencia area of N.E. Trinidad as part of the Trinidad & Tobago National Sub-Project



Caribbean Small Island Developing States join forces to reduce threats to Fragile Island Environments

19-23 September, 2016 | Kingston, Jamaica

The Caribbean will join forces to strengthen its approach to the sustainable management of water, land and its fragile ecosystems with the implementation of the Global Environment Facility funded project on ‘Integrating Water, Land and Ecosystem Management in Caribbean Small Island Developing States’ (GEF IWEco).

The United Nations Environment, Caribbean Environment Programme (UNEP CEP) in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), the GEF Small Grants Programme and several other regional partners will be hosting a series of project meetingsfrom September 19-22, 2016 in Kingston, Jamaica.

The Regional Project will be implemented over five years and is centered oninnovative solutions to reduce the risk of climate change and preserve the Caribbean’s natural resources.

Ms. Lorna Inniss, Coordinator of UNEP CEP, outlined the significance of this project for Small Island Developing States (SIDs) as they embark on achieving targets identified in the S.A.M.O.A. Pathway and the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals.

The series of meetings will take place as follows:

The Caribbean region faces significant threats to wetland and coral reef ecosystems which have both dramatically declined in recent years. Unplanned development and poor land use practices result in the clearing of lands and coastal ecosystems (mangroves/seagrasses). Thiscontributes to loss of species richness and diversity in Caribbean countries through soil loss and increased sedimentation.

In responding to these environmental threats, Caribbean countries are challenged by their small land masses, vulnerable economies, and heavy dependence on external energy resources. Given the rise in populations and development, greater concerted effort is now required to achieve sustainable development for the Wider Caribbean Region.

This regional project will involve the participation of eleven Caribbean SIDs including Antigua & Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Jamaica, St. Kitts & Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent & the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago. These Caribbean SIDs recognize the shared challenges of water, land and biodiversity resource management and therefore, the IWEco Project will build on the progress of prior initiatives to preserve the Caribbean ecosystems that are of global significance and the sustainability of livelihoods through the application of existing proven technologies and approaches that are appropriate for small island developing states.

The Project Management Unit will be based in Kingston, Jamaica at the offices of the United Nations Caribbean Environment Programme. The Unit will provide direct technical support and oversight of all of the National Project Activities as well as coordinate the regional activities. The Project was approved by the GEF Secretariat in April 2015 with a total budget of USD88.7 million including cash and in-kind co-financing as well as the GEF requested cash allocation of USD20,722,572.

The GEF IWEco project falls within the scope of the Convention for the Protection and Development of the Marine Environment in the Wider Caribbean Region (Cartagena Convention) and its Protocols concerning Pollution from Land-based Sources and Activities (LBS) and Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW). Pollution of fresh and coastal waters from a wide range of sources continues to be a significant threat to socio-economic development in the Caribbean in light of impacts to terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.

These agreements commit Governments of the region to take concrete actions for improving the management and sustainable use of their critical coastal and marine resources. Through strengthened policy and legislation and using more effective solutions, the Caribbean will be better able to achieve global targets on access to safe and reliable water supplies and improved ecosystem management in the Caribbean.


To access the agenda and other meeting document, visit the GEF IWEco meeting page.

For more information on this project please read the project summary.