The effects of climate change are getting worse and more challenging. The world has committed itself to fight against this. Funds have been set up for this purpose. One of these is the Green Climate Fund of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCCC. This fund was established to assist developing countries in adaptation and mitigation practices to combat climate change. But to qualify for this is not so easy.
“So there is a lot of injustice in the system to get the money from the Green Climate Fund,” says Monique Pool of the Green Heritage Fund Suriname Foundation.
This comment was made during the programme ‘Onder De Loep,’ on the Surinamese television station ATV, where she and Environmental Director Ritesh Sardjoe were guests talking about the developments of climate change in Suriname.
“The requirements include that an NGO must have a policy with regard to, among other things, Anti-terrorism, Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-fraud and Anti-corruption. You must have all these things in place in your NGO. You can’t just simply indicate on your website that you have a policy on these matters, because it is also asked how the policy is implemented within your NGO, so it is difficult for small NGOs to meet these requirements.”
The Caribbean, the countries with a low coastal plain, suffer a lot from the effects of climate change such as sea level rise. The countries in this area are already affected by the effects of climate change. In the future, they will be hit hardest and also first. “We are expected to do a lot of adaptation and mitigation, but the western world is not willing to provide [money] for us to do that. While they are the major causes of this climate crisis. It’s a very unfair world,” said Pool.
Strict and heavy screening for climate change funds
It is no secret that obtaining funds from the Green Climate Fund is extremely difficult and intensive. Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) can submit projects via the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), that can be financed by the fund, but the NGOs also have to go through a very strict and heavy screening. Suriname has so far carried out a project with financing from the Green Climate Fund and three Readiness activities. The Readiness and Preparatory Support Program, the Readiness Program, supports country-led initiatives by developing countries to strengthen their institutional capacities, governance mechanisms, and planning and programming frameworks toward a transformational long-term climate action agenda.
Society must also be made ‘ready’ to deal with the effects of climate change.
“Many are not yet aware of the impact of climate change on their lives,” says Deputy Director Ivette Patterzon of the Climate Change Directorate of the Ministry of Spatial Planning and the Environment. She believes that more information should be provided to society about climate change.
“There are other things that have an impact on the climate, such as waste water that is discharged, which also causes greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, as a country, we do not do enough about waste separation. Many still lump it together.”
Suriname could certainly use funds from the Green Climate Fund to tackle the longstanding waste problem. The dumping of plastic-made waste is a concern. Although the world started to reduce the use of plastic, this increased again due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Just think of the one-off use of plastic products, such as face shields, aprons, cups and plates in restaurants. The consumption and production of plastic entails the use of large amounts of fossil fuels, with all its negative consequences for the environment and climate.
Sardjoe acknowledges that waste is a complex problem in Suriname. The policy for this is on the board of the Ministry of Spatial Planning and the Environment. The implementation, collection and processing is the responsibility of the Ministry of Regional Development and Sports, ROS, and the Ministry of Public Works, OW. A number of projects are now underway, such as the project on Blauwgrond, the Koni Doti project.
The aim of the project is to raise awareness of the importance of separating household waste in Suriname and the benefits associated with this in economic, social and environmental terms, to contribute to an effective collection of separated household waste, to reduce the amount of dumped waste at Ornamibo and encouraging local recycling. Talks have already been held with the ministries of ROS and OW to take a serious look at the problem of dirt.
“We have household waste, bulky waste, medical waste, and what we do not take into account is electronic waste. There is so much electronic equipment that is thrown away and it has increased enormously in recent years. So we have to develop policies in every area. We have to develop protocols on how to deal with the different types of dirt.”
Pool says that the use of plastic is very high in Suriname. Several projects are currently being implemented to reduce the use of plastic.
“People must be made aware that plastic can be recycled, so that it does not end up in our waters. We have great ideas in Suriname about how we can use used plastic differently. We must also encourage ourselves to use less plastic and use our own drinking cups that we can always refill. A project is also being carried out in which fountains are placed in places so that people can refill water themselves.”
Awareness and collaboration
Scientist Usha Satnarain, affiliated with the Anton de Kom University of Suriname, who mainly works with communities to make them resilient to climate change, points out the importance of raising awareness and cooperation to achieve this goal. She recently participated in a project of Overliggend Waterschap Multipurpose Corantijn Project, OW MCP, with the aim of making the rice sector more resilient to the consequences of climate change. Through this project, she goes deeper into raising awareness and the importance of working together.
“Now we really have to look at what adaptation measures they should take to tackle the effects of climate change. Then it is not only about water management, the shortage or abundance of water for rice production, but you also see that various pests are emerging that the rice farmers have to contend with.”
According to Satnarain, a number of projects on climate change are currently underway. She advises the organizations to thoroughly study the subject, because climate change involves a lot. Information on climate change should also be brought to different groups in society in a way that suits them and helps them understand the information. Support is also needed from the various ministries, such as the Ministry of Education, Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries and ROS. “If one fails, there is a problem. The various departments of the government must work together more closely to tackle climate change nationwide.”
The scientist believes that the government lacks an integrated approach to tackling climate change.
“Not every ministry has an action plan. As a result, people work past each other”.
Environmental director Sardjoe also agrees that we need to pull together to tackle the challenges of climate change.
“We have quite a few resources such as the Anton de Kom University of Suriname for research. We will have to get everyone together to tackle the various issues, and then you can do quite a lot. It’s all hands-on deck,” he emphasizes. Pool adds that as a country, we need to make sure we have everything in order so that we can receive funds.
“The process has started, both the government and the NGOs are being trained. We are ready, so let’s go for it.”
This story was originally published by DWT Online, with the support of the Caribbean Climate Justice Journalism Fellowship, which is a joint venture between Climate Tracker and Open Society Foundations.