The ECPA initiative for Sustainable Communities in Central America and the Caribbean recently announced the recipients of 14 grants designed to strengthen the capacity of civil society organizations and community associations to build sustainable communities and contribute to sustainable urban development.
The initiative comes at a crucial time as the cities of the Americas are experiencing dramatic and accelerating changes. According to recent studies, Latin America and the Caribbean has the highest rate of urbanization in the developing world. The proportion of the region’s population living in cities doubled from 41% to 80% in the last 60 years. Likewise, economic activity in the region is significantly concentrated in its urban areas. However, according to the Inter-American Development Bank, two out of every three people in Latin American and Caribbean cities live in poverty. Faced with this challenge, the project objective is to foster resilient, more sustainable cities at the community level reducing the urban ecological footprint and the degradation of valuable natural resources while simultaneously improving the quality of life, protecting livelihoods and promoting the participation of the community.
Technical review panels selected 14 non-governmental organizations from 10 countries in Central America and the Caribbean to receive grants of up to $50,000 to implement innovative, community-level sustainable development projects. During project implementation, lessons learned and best practices will be shared between the grantees and local and national governments officials to form the foundation for greater cooperation among OAS countries. The projects selected cover the following priority areas: 1) Clean energy and energy efficiency; 2) Resilience to natural hazards; 3) Sustainable transport solutions; and 4) Waste management and recycling, including electronic waste. Specific projects range from efforts to strengthen the capacity of indigenous communities to prevent and mitigate the risk of natural disasters in the Central Highlands of Guatemala to an initiative to contribute to the implementation of an alternative integrated urban transport system in the greater metropolitan area of Costa Rica.
The "Sustainable Communities in Central America and the Caribbean Project," is supported by funding from the U.S. Permanent Mission to the OAS and implemented by the Biodiversity, Sustainable Cities and Land Tenure Section of the Organization’s Department of Sustainable Development. The list of the 14 selected projects is available here.