THE United Nations and Government of Japan through the United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security (UNTFHS) Wednesday launched a regional USD6.2M programme. Set to benefit over 162,000 people in the Caribbean, the focus is on reaching the most vulnerable – particularly women and marginalized youth who continue to be disproportionately affected by economic, social and environmental challenges.
As the Caribbean continues to grapple with the economic and social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the looming threat of natural and environmental hazards, the project will support the most vulnerable citizens across five countries to develop their livelihoods in the agriculture, fisheries and small business sectors. It aims to position Caribbean countries to better respond to crises and sustain progress towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. It will target activities in Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada and Saint Lucia.
The overall goal of the initiative is to enhance human security through support for initiatives that address the unique needs of women and youth in the Eastern Caribbean. The focus of these efforts is on enhancing the ability of Caribbean citizens to recover from crises and promote gender equality in key economic sectors in the Caribbean, including farming, fishing, agriculture fisheries and related small‐business activities. When completed this initiative would significantly impact economic sustainability and food security.
Under the overall coordination of the United Nations Resident Coordinator for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, the joint initiative is being led by UN Women and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) as technical leads, along , with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Addressing the launch, UN Resident Coordinator to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Didier Trebucq, cited research that indicates disproportionate levels of men to women in land and farm ownership within the agricultural sector. He added: “to address these inequalities, this Joint Programme provides support to integrated policy reforms and innovative tools that contribute to the improved well-being of farmers and small agro-and fisheries business entrepreneurs to enhance resilience of the agricultural sector. As we navigate the challenges ahead, the human security approach will be instrumental for countries to successfully recover from COVID and accelerate progress toward achieving the SDGs.”
In absentia, Mr. Teruhiko Shinada, Ambassador of Japan to Barbados said: ““I wish to extend my congratulations to the United Nations Sub-Regional Team for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean on the launch of this programme. I am immensely pleased with it especially because the programme was approved within the framework of the UN Trust Fund for Human Security. The Fund was established on the initiative of the Government of Japan and, to date, Japan remains its biggest donor. I sincerely wish for the successful work of the UN Team to realise the fruitful outcome of this programme that will strengthen the overall resilience of the countries in the region.”
Chief of the Human Security Unit, Ms. Mehrnaz Mostafavi explained the value of the human security approach: “In recognizing the scope, complexity and shared inter-connectivity of the challenges we face, human security provides a framework to break down silos and bring together all relevant stakeholders including the most affected communities. The Caribbean programme is exemplary of this approach, it seeks to realize the significant economic and social benefits that can be accrued across the region by tackling gender inequality and promoting women’s economic empowerment in the essential agriculture and fisheries sector.”
The UN is partnering with various national and regional entities including Ministries of Agriculture; Trade; Business; Finance and the National Gender Machineries; Land Registration Offices; Small Credit and Disaster insurance; private and public sector entities; civil society; community, farmer and women’s groups; the Caribbean Disaster Management Agency and the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute.
Officials from the Ministries of Agriculture and National Gender Machinery also addressed the launch, reiterating the importance of the project to their countries and particularly the need to foster a more gender-inclusive approach.
Grenada’s Minister of Social Development, Housing and Community Empowerment, Delma Thomas noted: “ It is important for us to develop a sense of awareness and an action oriented platform so that we remove barriers that promote exclusion based on gender in fisheries and small business sectors.”
Dr. Reginald Thomas, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Blue and Green Economy, Agriculture and National Food Security, Dominica added: “We recognize that the improvement of women in the agricultural sector and the agricultural, fisheries small business still has a means of fostering food and nutrition security for the families, the population and thus contributing to achieving the SDGs, especially Goals 1, 2 3 and 5.”
Heads of participating UN agencies – UN Women, FAO, UNDP and ILO- also shared on the individual strengths and comparative advantage of “delivering as one” during a panel discussion.
UN Women MCO Caribbean Representative a.i. Tonni Brodber explained that the beauty of the human security approach, is that it will mean upscaling the work already begun: “Not only will we be looking at gender inequalities and some of the challenges that women in particular face, but we will also be looking at the interconnected challenges, specifically around climate change, food security and economic empowerment. We look forward to building on the experience and impact that we have all seen thus far – UN Women, FAO, UNDP and ILO – so that the women and small holder farmers that we began the work with can benefit from all that the UN has to offer and build back better from this COVID-19 reality that we are in right now.”
In delivering remarks on behalf of Renata Clarke, Sub-regional Coordinator for FAO, Vyju Lopez, Plant and Protection Officer stated, “FAO in partnership with the local governments and stakeholders will be working to enhance viable agricultural and fisheries value chains (activities from production to consumption) with the objective of improving the livelihoods of women, youth and community based groups”.
Over the next two years the Joint Programme will apply the protection and empowerment framework of human security towards building the capacity and enhancing the conditions for farmers, small agriculture and fisheries business entrepreneurs through engaging in both gender-sensitive policy reform and community-based initiatives to strengthen participation, particularly of women and marginalized youth in core economic sectors.