In the field: Cape Verde making its way for the Sustainability of the Environment / Making the difference in shaping the minds and the actions of the people

Cape Verde has been recognized as a global hotspot for terrestrial and marine biodiversity and United Nations in Cape Verde is actively involved in promoting environmental sustainability for the people and its' future generations of Cape Verde. On the island of Maio, two projects funded by GEF Small Grants Programme, are making the difference in shaping the minds and actions of the people.

"Marine Turtles Protection" is the first turtle conservation project in the history of the island involving the active participation of local communities and fishermen to protect Loggerhead Turtles. The project enables 17 fishermen and local people to be employed to patrol the beaches from June to October for the nesting and the hatchlings of the turtles. The local youth are also taking part in the conservation project by visiting the project sites and learning about the life cycle of the turtles and the eco-system of the island. The youth also had the opportunity to share their findings by organizing a theater performance at the municipality's festivals. Theater is relatively new to Maio and the play combined traditional story-telling techniques with an emphasis of turtle conservation andthe importance of preserving the natural environment.

This is a positive change in the increased awareness of the people where before, the hunting of turtles for their meat and eggs was common practice across the islands and egg predation by humans and other predators, had almost wiped out the breeding turtle population of the island.The project is also in alignment with Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (BSAP), a national government policy priority, which is also linked to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The project is really a local-to-global contribution.

"Revitalizing the Porto Ingles Wetlands" is also a unique cooperative project,empowering 70local women working in salt extraction. Porto Ingles Wetlandsinclude the largest «salina» in Cape Verdewith a heritage of salt extraction since the late 16th century. The entire salt production process in Maio is managed and operated by local women, and these women are proud and motivated in further improving their professional skills by actively participating in a technical exchange program to increase salt production with women from similar projects in Guinea Bissau, West Africa.The UN in Cape Verde will continue work with the Government, civil society, private sector, development partners, and families to promote sustainable development. After all, the women in Porto Ingles Wetlands have definitely illustrated that by working together and sharing experiences, they are not only helping each other to enhance the quality of life for themselves, but also are contributing to the lives of the people in Cape Verde and it's neighboring countries.

In addition,the project not only promotes sustainable traditional livelihoods of these women, it also promotes biodiversity by protecting and re-vitalizing the wetlands. The wetland attracts a wide variety of birds,including endemic species, for breeding and feeding.A protected fence is scheduled to be built to preserve and to develop this area as a natural reserve to incorporate eco-tourism as a unique bird-watching site in Cape Verde. The flocks of flamingo canalso be observed when visiting the Porto Ingles Wetlands.

Both projects, while aimed at issues related to MDG7, (Ensure Environmental Sustainability), have the added benefits of addressing poverty eradication and other MDG1 targets. The UN in Cape Verde and GEF Small Grants Programme continue to be committed to promoting sustainable livelihoods of the people by protecting the environment and utilizing the natural resources.

* Reported and photos taken by Masakazu Shibata (OUNF&P Communication Officer) except group photo of "Marine Turtles Protection" project provided by Tony Melo (Biosfera I)

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