The Sustainable Development Goals in Trinidad and Tobago
The Sustainable Development Goals are a global call to action to end poverty, protect the earth’s environment and climate, and ensure that people everywhere can enjoy peace and prosperity. These are the goals the UN is working on in MCO Trinidad and Tobago:
13 September 2022
From Blackboard to Black Tanks: Teacher Turns to Aquaponics
She's still more than a decade away from retiring from her day job as a school teacher, but Lisa Perez has already started working towards another of her life’s goals. At her humble Wallerfield, Arima, home, she temporarily pauses her efforts to prepare for her rows of students at school and begins her labour among the rows of PVC pipes that are taking shape at her hydroponics farm. The daytime giggling of her students has given way to the gentle gurgling of the water, as dedicated pumps aerate her massive 10-foot wide aquaculture tanks, in which hundreds of tilapia make random eddies and purls as they feed and flex, in a cycle that Lisa intends to use to tackle food security and sustainable farming. Lisa’s journey into this type of farming may have very well been by chance. As a traditional farmer many years ago, a bee slipped under her facemask while she was applying a chemical mixture to her crop. In her rush to remove the insistent insect, Lisa accidentally spilled some of the substance on herself. Since that day, she has tried to veer away from farming that involves harsh chemicals. A childhood love for aquarium fish took the lead, and Lisa decided to investigate the aquaculture concept. “Since I was a youth, I tended to mind a lot of fishes. I had ornamental fishes, and trying to study to get out of the traditional farming, I wanted to get involved in smart farming whereby you’re using less land to produce more,” she says. “So I started doing research in how to involve technology… and so I came upon aquaponics and I started doing that. I then attended the tilapia aquaculture classes at the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries Division.” Her start-up saw a few challenges surface; labour was one of them. “I think that sometimes people don’t share your vision. At one time I had support from one of my brothers, but he has since returned to his job (post-pandemic). Off and on I would have a couple of people on to do extra labour, but I don’t think they understand the concept of the aquaponics.” Another source of hiccups was the market. “There is risk associated with everything, because the model came through the Sugarcane Feed Centre, which purchased all of the fishes. So we would rear the fishes and the grow-out, they would take every month. But once the model is successful and you have the market, it is a way forward. “There are a lot of people out there with knowledge of aquaculture. It is easy if you have the money (to invest), but it took a lot from me, because I had to spend over $250,000, and the risk for me was not having that effective market, because I found myself having to market my produce on my own. Sometimes you hire someone to fillet, and they want to charge you more than what you feel they should get.” Another issue she faced was her lack of training. She chuckles as she recalls, “tilapia was really the model. I have tried crayfish, and that was not successful, because I did not have the knowledge with regard to that… because they walked out of the system.” But those were some of the minor speedbumps that Lisa had to negotiate eight years ago, when she set up her operation. Her voice takes a sombre tone as she recalls her early days taking her tilapia to market. “My first venture out to sell tilapia, they offered me three dollars a pound. That could not cut it for me. At least if it were ten dollars, yes, probably,” she recalls. But in the true spirit of resilience that runs in her family - her father Ramon Perez was an entrepreneur who set up a number of successful small businesses -Lisa went back to the drawing board, looking for ways that she could make her business sustainable. “So I started to do more research on what could be done with tilapia, rather than sell it for three dollars. I saw things like composting, silage, fish fillets and even fish meal, which can be used to feed other animals on the farm. The aim is to take that project and create a business, not only for the farm, but the wider community as well.” Her project has grown over the years, as she fine-tunes her master plan for production: “It is a closed-loop system, in that the water is moved out of the fish tank into the grow-bed – those are the troughs – and it is basically about using the waste from the fish in order to give nutrients to the plants… so it’s supposed to have different vegetables on the grow-beds.” She expresses some surprise about discovering the challenges of being a woman in agriculture; after all, as a girl growing up with her four brothers, she was always treated like “one of the boys”. Now, the stark reality has revealed itself to her. She says service providers tend to charge a bit more, markets treat you differently, and there are just some days where one needs to have support to do the sometimes literal “heavy lifting”. “I thought they used to really take care of our women, but it seems that they don’t. And this is strange in the agriculture world. I think they tend to exploit women,” Lisa muses, when asked if a man would have been meted out the same treatment she has had. “I was expecting things to be a different way; where as a woman, people will help you move forward. But that was not the case. Sometimes you meet the right person, and sometimes you meet the wrong person. Across the board, I personally feel that men will take advantage of women. Even like your car (for transport), the price costs X, but when a woman steps up, sometimes it could cost double the price. I personally feel that men don’t see women as being strong, and wanting to venture out there and do their best, and they are not there to support us. But I, I don’t give up. If someone puts me down, I will look for another avenue (for success).” In fact, Lisa wants to be a beacon for the women in agriculture in her community. “When I look around – within this road alone – a lot of the women work very hard. And I don’t see the return on the hard work and the hours that are put behind the farming. I don’t know if we are not tapping into the right resources; I don’t know if it is that we are lacking certain skills to make that step out there,” she says. “With regard to training, the whole thing was to show them a smart way in doing farming, rather than all that laborious work – time-consuming – so I wanted to change that… and not just within our community, but beyond.” Lisa Perez is one of the local aquaponics practitioners who will participate in the AMEXCID/CARICOM/FAO Initiative “Cooperation for Adaptation and Resilience to Climate Change in the Caribbean” (“Resilient Caribbean Initiative”), which began since the Caribbean is particularly vulnerable to climate change. The initiative seeks to promote adaptation to climate change of agri-food systems (agriculture, livestock, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture) and the resilience of the livelihoods of the rural population of the sub-region. The ‘Resilient Aquaculture’ project is expected to increase the contribution of aquaculture to food security, nutrition and livelihoods in the participating countries and will run through to June 2023. For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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22 June 2022
Taking the SDGs to the Community - Outreach Caravan 2022
Governments cannot achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on their own. It takes collaboration among every stakeholder - the private sector, media, civil society and members of the public - to make this mission a reality by 2030. To help educate the public on the 17 SDGs, the UN in T&T team is doing a community outreach tour throughout 2022. This Outreach Caravan kicked off in the turtle-watching village of Grande Rivere, where hundreds of visitors converge every night during the mid-year months to see scores of turtles come ashore and lay their eggs. This crucial nesting site and the committed involvement of the Turtle Village Trust in protecting and tracking turtles and their nests was the perfect place to showcase sustainable development, and how communities can get involved! UN staff members from the International Organization for Migration, the Spotlight Initiative and the Resident Coordinator's Office set up an outreach booth at the Turtle Village Trust's Visitor Outreach Centre. As visitors came to sign up for their turtle watching tours, they popped into our booth to play SDG trivia games, watch Virtual Reality experiences about environmental conservation and migration, and walk away with SDG memorabilia. Additional caravan stops will be announced in the coming months.
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09 September 2022
Victims of Trafficking Receive Better Care, Protection Through New IOM, USAID Project
PORT-OF-SPAIN, TRINIDAD: Yesterday, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Port of Spain Office, in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) launched the Heal, Empower, Rise – Counter Trafficking in Persons (HER CTIP) Project at The Brix, Autograph Collection, Cascade. The US$950,000, two-year project (2022-2024) aims to strengthen the victim support environment in Trinidad and Tobago, in order to facilitate both timely and quality services to Victims of Trafficking (VoTs) in Trinidad and Tobago. Specifically, the project would support Trinidad and Tobago’s national (Government and NGOs) response to VoTs through the augmentation, enhancement as well as enrichment of protection and assistance services and systems to potential, presumed, and confirmed VoTs. Attending the launch were the Honourable Ayanna Webster-Roy, Minister with responsibility for Gender and Child Affairs, and Senator the Honourable Donna Cox, Minister of Social Development and Family Services. Minister Webster-Roy stated, “Today’s launch highlights the importance of gender-aligned initiatives as we recognise the rights of all and take a multifaceted approach to addressing female empowerment, child rights, and sexual protection.” She noted that from 2013-2016, 61 per cent of human trafficking cases in Trinidad and Tobago involved sexual exploitation and this proportion increased to 80 per cent between 2017 and 2018. “The Division continues to be one of the key gatekeepers responsible for human trafficking prevention through education and sensitisation, which has resulted in adherence to the National Plan of Action Against Trafficking in Persons 2021-2025. Under this National Plan, we are also responsible for the protection of survivors and witnesses through shelters and alternative care.” Minister Cox said her Ministry is moving swiftly towards a service delivery model called the Social Transformation Empowerment Programme, commonly known as STEP-UP, which treats with empowering and helping its clients to achieve sustainable living and independence. “This Heal, Empower, Rise – Counter Trafficking (in Persons) Project therefore resonates well the Ministry’s STEP-UP service delivery model and our mandate to provide a robust social protection system for the vulnerable,” she noted. With over 25 years of experience in counter-trafficking, IOM works in collaboration with governments, international and non-governmental organizations, the private sector as well as human rights, peace and development actors on all aspects of counter-trafficking responses – prevention, protection, prosecution and partnership. Since the mid-1990s, IOM and its partners have provided protection and assistance to over 100,000 men, women and children globally, including those at risk of violence, exploitation and abuse and those who were trafficked. Head of Office for IOM Port of Spain, Ms. Jewel Ali, said, “Trafficking in Persons is a crime and grave human rights violation of enormous scale, which is prevalent in peace, conflict and disaster areas. In Trinidad and Tobago, IOM collaborates with Ministries across the Government and most significantly in the past with the Ministry of National Security to develop the Trafficking in Persons (TiP) Act which also led to the establishment of the Counter Trafficking Unit (CTU). Today IOM’s strong relationship with the CTU has led to among other things, the referral of potential cases for investigation and the support of victims.” The project represents a strategic partnership between IOM Trinidad and Tobago and donor USAID, ‘the world’s premier international development agency’. Clinton D. White, USAID Eastern and Southern Caribbean Regional Representative, noted in his remarks that at USAID, “we take human trafficking very seriously.” He reported at a programming level, USAID has provided over USD 340 million in assistance to 83 countries and regions to fight human trafficking. “We believe that a critical ingredient for a stronger response and greater effectiveness is through partnership." The HER CTIP Project is seamlessly aligned to USAID’s Policy on Countering Trafficking in Persons which promotes a victim-centered approach and will specifically focus on young girls and women who are victims of trafficking. This Project seeks to assist with fulfilling some of the recommendations of the U.S. TIP 2021 report for Trinidad and Tobago, which underscored the need to “improve the quality of victim care” and “increase trauma-informed training on trafficking for NGO, shelter, social services.” U.S. Embassy in Port of Spain Chargé d’Affaires, Shante Moore, noted, “Criminals in Caribbean countries target the most marginalized and source, move and sell the most vulnerable members of our society including young women and children.” He reported the United States Government through USAID has committed over USD 14 million to counter-trafficking efforts in the Caribbean. “While working jointly to dismantle human trafficking rings and prosecuting the guilty to the fullest extent of the law, we must ensure that victims and survivors are protected and receive the highest level of care, counselling and support." The HER CTIP Project is designed as a multi-stakeholder initiative with the main goal of leading victims of trafficking to their healing and empowerment and propelling them to live meaningful and productive lives. -END - For additional information, please contact the Reporting and Communications Officer at IOM Port-of-Spain, Ms. Kandy Serrant, at email@example.com.
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20 May 2022
2021 United Nations in T&T Annual Results Report
Each year, the UN country team publishes a results report outlining all the achievements, activities and outcomes produced by the work of UN agencies operating in Trinidad and Tobago. This is the annual results report for 2021. Key Highlights: - 4,700+ teachers trained on GBV - 70,000 children trained on GBV -19 health centres upgraded with information management systems - 1,000 contraceptive implants provided to Ministry of Health -769 counselling sessions provided to migrants and refugees -8,275 migrants and refugees who received food assistance -1,600 children benefitted from online mental health sessions
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14 July 2022
IOM Internship - Digital, Production and Outreach
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Port of Spain is seeking an intern for Digital, Production and Outreach. To be eligible, applicants must be: -Enrolled in the final academic year of a first university degree programme (minimum Bachelor’s level or equivalent), University or Master’s degree (or a student approaching the end of a Master’s or University degree) in Advertising, Fine Arts, or a related field from an accredited academic institution -Fluent in English and Spanish Download the terms of reference for this internship posting below. To apply, send your cover letter and CV to firstname.lastname@example.org by July 25, 2022.
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16 February 2022
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