The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Government of Barbados have again joined together to host another major international conference. Last week, UNDP Resident Representative, Stephen O’Malley, and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of the Environment & Drainage, Edison Alleyne, signed the Host Agreement for the 7th Global Environment Facility (GEF) International Waters Conference (IWC7), to take place at the Hilton Barbados Resort from 26-31 October 2013.

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The Conference is a biennial event and is expected to attract over 300 participants from across the region and the world to execute this signature GEF event. Some of the attendees include project managers and leaders of government ministries, trans-boundary basin commissions, representatives of the private sector, civil society and donor agencies, and the GEF Secretariat and its partner agencies (FAO, IFAD, UNDP, UNEP, UNIDO, World Bank and the Regional Development Banks).

The theme for IWC7 is:ECONOMIC VALUATION AS A TOOL TO BRIDGE THE SCIENCE-POLICY GAP” and the conference will feature extensive opportunities for focused learning on scientific and technical innovations. Towards this end, GEF also intends to partner with the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, so that its students can benefit from the knowledge that will be shared at the conference and its faculty can benefit from, as well as contribute to, the emerging science and innovation.

The Global Environment Facility (www.thegef.org) brings together 182 member governments and national and global partners to address global environmental issues. GEF provides grants to developing countries and countries with economies in transition, for projects related to biodiversity, climate change, land degradation, the ozone layer, persistent organic pollutants and international waters. These projects link local, national and global environmental challenges to the promotion of sustainable livelihoods and aim to benefit the global environment. The cumulative GEF IW portfolio comprises 242 projects to date with US$1.4 billion of GEF grants and US$8.4 billion in co-financing, invested in 149 different GEF recipient countries. These projects target many of the World’s most threatened and damaged trans-boundary surface water, groundwater, and coastal and marine ecosystems.

The general objective of the IWC7 is to facilitate learning and experience sharing, and it aims to build participant capacity in key International Waters management and technical areas.

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