Minister outlines key environmental challenges in Gambia

By: Bekai Njie

The minister of Environment, Climate Change, Water Resources, Forestry and Wildlife has highlighted sustainable management, land degradation, sustainable water management and sustainable forest management, as key environmental concerns to The Gambia government.

Pa Ousman Jarju, while presiding over a daylong validation of the Global Environment Facility-6 (GEF) National Portfolio Formulation Document (NPFD), said he was delighted that the GEF-6 project put into consideration, the Vision 2016 national development blue print as a vital link to addressing all these environmental challenges.

The validation of the document sought to finalise the document while increasing its opportunities to align the programming of the GEF resources with other relevant strategies, national planning processes and increase responsiveness to the country’s priorities for generating global environmental benefits under multilateral conventions.

“it is important to know that GEF-6 aims at addressing global environmental benefits through an integrated approach by developing projects with different focal areas mainly biodiversity, land degradation, climate change and sustainable forest management,” he said.

The minister said that government, through his Ministry is committed to collaborating with genuine international partners including GEF in addressing environmental challenges.

He disclosed that the GEF’s implementation of the National Portfolio Formulation Exercise (NPFE) initiative started at the beginning of GEF-5. The goals of this project, he said, was to strengthen country ownership over decisions on GEF resource programming.

“The NPFE is also meant to set country priorities for the use of GEF resources in a transparent manner for the benefit of all GEF stakeholders including the anticipated demand for resources, both from countries’ national allocations under the System for Transparent Allocation of Resources (STAR) and from country allocations outside of STAR,” he said.

The executive director of the National Environment Agency, Ndey Sireng Bakurin, who also doubles as the GEF focal point, pointed out that The Gambia government has developed national policy documents such as The Gambia Environmental Action Plan among others to address the challenges associated with natural resource degradation and matters.

“The development of these documents have been consultative and participatory to facilitate their implementation,” she said.

The NEA executive director outlined that the GEF focal areas under the sixth replenishment cycle which include biodiversity, climate change, land gradation, energy, chemical and waste management coincide with priority areas identified by all stakeholders for possible action.

She acknowledged that the interest demonstrated by stakeholders in issues related to the environment and sustainable development especially the focal areas under GEF-6 has been instrumental in the quest to undertake the NPFE with consultation of stakeholders.

Bakurin said that the main purpose of the GEF National Portfolio Formulation Exercise is to serve as priority setting for The Gambia as a guide for GEF agencies as they assist the country in the finalisation and implementation of programmes and projects.

Since the establishment of the GEF, she said, it has served as the financial mechanism of the main Multilateral Environmental Agreements. She pointed out that currently, GEF is the largest public funder worldwide of projects aiming to generate global environmental benefits, while supporting national sustainable development initiatives.