The 9th GEF Biennial International Waters Conference took place in Marrakech, Morocco last week, from November 5th to November 8th. The focus of this signature learning event for the GEF IW focal area was interactive training and experience-sharing, where participants could sum up the progress achieved but also will look to the future of programming within and beyond the focal area.
The GEF Small Grants Programme participated in the conference with a booth in the Innovation Marketplace, as well as with a technical site visit, a side event, and a celebratory tree planting event on behalf of the conference. SGP most recent publication entitled “Blue Economy: Community Solutions” was also launched at the Conference. The book include twelve cases from around the world on best practices of community-based blue economy, and was well received by the Conference participants.
SGP’s side event, on Partnerships to Scale Up Community-based International Waters Management, was held at the Water Museum of Marrakech on Tuesday, November 6th, with excellent attendance. The presentations and discussions in the side event demonstrate that SGP is an effective mechanism in translating regional framework policies into local actions. Experiences and lessons learnt have been shared regarding how SGP collaborates with full-sized projects to support local people and communities in international waters management.
The event was moderated by Andrew Hudson, the head of UNDP’s Water & Ocean Governance Programme. Speakers included Dr. Sulan Chen, SGP International Waters Programme Advisor, Mr. Yingfeng Guo, Project Manager with the UNDP GEF Yellow Sea Project, Mr. Jose Padilla, Regional Technical Advisor with UNDP, Ms. Isabelle Vanderbeck, GEF IW Portfolio Manager with UNEP, Mr. Houssine Nibani, president of SGP grantee partner Integrated Resource Management Association (AGIR) and Ms. Nicole Leoteaud Executive Director of the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI).
After the event, a bus of conference participants went to visit SGP grantee partner Center of Development of the Tensift Region (CDRT) in Marrakech's Pottery Village for a short presentation on the work CDRT has done with support from SGP, which included the installation of fuel-efficient gas kilns for the artisans to produce their pottery in. This has resulted in a drastic reduction in wood consumption, as well as a reduction in CO2 emissions.
The beneficiaries have also seen an increase in income, due to the improved quality of their product and a reduction in production loss. This initiative has been scaled up through a partnership with the Moroccan Ministry of Handicrafts, which targeted 2500 potters for gas kiln equipment installation and training. This visit was followed by a tour through the souk of the Medina, which ended in the beautiful Jardin Secret.
On November 8th, SGP Programme Advisor Dr. Chen participated in a panel discussion on Transformational Solutions for Long-Term Sustainability of On-going and New Interventions: Blue Economy, where she spoke on the importance of thinking globally and acting locally, and putting people and communities at the center of implementing blue economy at local level. SGP IW’s new publication on Blue Economy: Community Solutions was launched with great acclaim.
On behalf of the conference, a small delegation consisting of SGP and UNDP staff then visited Ahmed Chaouki school, a local intermediary school located in a poor neighborhood of Marrakech city, to participate in a symbolic tree planting event. With great help from the students and SGP grantee partner CDRT, 100 trees were planted to green the school and improve the school campus for the students. The planting activity was a great occasion to raise the students awareness aout the environment and the United Nations' work around the world.