JIS News

Plans are far advanced for the merger of the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica (EFJ) with the Forest Conservation Fund (FCF)/Jamaica Protected Areas Trust (JPAT).

The amalgamation of the agencies is expected to take effect on April 1.

Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, Hon. Robert Pickersgill, said that the Attorney General’s Chambers has commented on the legal documents for the merger and the Ministry of Finance and Planning will also make its contribution.

He said that once all the legal aspects are in place, a new board will be appointed, which will be tasked with providing guidance during the first years of operation.

The organisations are being merged as the Government seeks to streamline operations by creating a single environmental conservation body. The move is also intended to prolong the life of the EFJ, for which funding support under a debt-for-nature swap between the United States and Jamaican governments, expired in September 2012.

The Minister, who was addressing the 19th Annual General Meeting of the EFJ, held on Tuesday, March 5, at the Four Seasons Hotel in St. Andrew, noted that the new entity to be created will be in a better position to attract funding from donor agencies to carry out its work in protecting the environment and seeing to the well being of the youth in Jamaica.

Chairman of the EFJ, Professor Dale Webber, told JIS News that there are three strategic goals as the new EFJ moves forward over the next two years.

“We’re going to look at our internal structures to ensure that we’re as efficient as possible. We’re going to look at our non-governmental organisation (NGO) partners so they can be as strong as possible, and also fundraising,” he explained.

He added that the EFJ will be approaching the United States Government regarding another debt swap arrangement.

“We’ve now talking to the German (Government), and individual foundations like the Oak Foundation,” he told JIS News.

The Oak Foundation is an international human rights body that commits resources to address issues of global, social and environmental concern, particularly those that have a major impact on the lives of the disadvantaged.

Mission Director of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Denise Herbol, said that the EFJ did a “wonderful job” in implementing the various programmes under the debt-for-nature swap agreement.

She stated that the US Government is “committed to continuing our partnership with the Government on the many programmes we have”.

The EFJ began operations in 1993 under the Enterprise for the Americas Initiative (EAI) Debt Reduction Agreement between the Governments of Jamaica and the US. The Foundation was established to provide assistance to NGOs making meaningful contributions in the areas of the environment, and child welfare and development.

Since its inception, the Foundation has provided support for 2,000 projects at a cost of some $2 billion.

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