Challenges to Small States

As mentioned in our discussion of climate change, small states face particular challenges. This is also true of biodiversity. Even with small and sometimes declining populations the pressures of economic development, deforestation, desertification and other forms of habitat destruction can endanger critical species.

In the small island states of the Eastern Caribbean political structures and processes involved in the making and implementation of biodiversity policy and the adjudication of disputes tend to be simpler, even more poorly funded and more open to outside influence than in either the United States or China. As parliamentary democracies with often fractious party systems, Caribbean SIDS are subject to sudden shifts in policy and turnovers of top ministerial personnel due to elections and cabinet reshuffling. Responsibility for economic development and environmental policy are often spread among ministries and agencies with conflicting missions related to species protection and resource development. Ministerial portfolios and cabinet posts are frequently combined, separated and recombined to deal with shortages of capable personnel and the changing priorities of governments.

In Dominica, commercial crops, watershed management, fisheries, marine habitat, coastal zone management, forestry, and terrestrial wildlife policy are all the responsibility of divisions of the Ministry of Agriculture and the Environment. Therefore, marine and forest reserves, parks and protected areas must compete for limited resources and staff support with agencies administering agricultural export policy and commercial fisheries. And one or two officers will be responsible for regulation of sport fisheries, small scale local commercial fishing, marine protected areas, recreational boating and dive operations, whaling and marine ecotourism. Budgets are chronically short, making departments dependent on outside sources—including international organizations, multilateral lending institutions, foreign governments and ENGOs—for the financial and technical resources, salaries and training needed to comply with international environmental agreements and conven-tions.60 But external funding has tended to be insufficient and not always efficiently used, and can carry with it the stigma of outside interference, which can be a political liability.61 In 2002, for example, a legislative stalemate resulting from an unstable coalition government stalled plans by the

Ministry of Agriculture and the Environment to use GEF funds—received for implementation of provisions of the UN FCCC—to create an Environmental Coordinating Unit to oversee the ministry's development and resource management activities.

Local and international ENGOs and international organizations have been active and occasionally influential in Dominica and in the rest of the Eastern Caribbean. The World Wildlife Fund—with U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) funding—implemented a highly successful coastal zone clean up and conservation campaign in the 1990s. In 1997, Dominica's Morne Trois Piton National Park was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, and in 1998 the president of the Dominica Conservation Association received the Goldman prize for leading a campaign that convinced parliament to reverse its decision to allow an Australian mining multinational to explore for copper in pristine rainforest.62

On the other hand, the Japanese government has been a generous donor in the development of commercial fisheries in Dominica and actively courts the support of the Dominican government and other Eastern Caribbean governments in support of its positions in the International Whaling Commission. Japan's desire to pursue commercial whaling in the Eastern Caribbean, with its year round populations of sperm whales, bottle-nosed and spinner dolphins, and migratory populations of humpback and pilot whales, has put the Dominican government at odds with local and international ENGOs and local ecotourism operators.63

In other small island developing states, however, external pressure and funding have facilitated the development of institutional capacity for biodiversity conservation. In the late 1990s in Grenada funding from the World Bank, Caribbean Development Bank and GEF supported a process, facilitated by a regional ENGO (the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute), that established a new national park to preserve habitat for the Grenada Dove—a decidedly uncharismatic but highly endangered species. The creation of the park also set in train a series of events that would lead to a new Forestry Policy, supported by a grant and technical support from the British Department for International Development. The Forestry Policy process involved advanced training at British universities for forestry officers, the formation of a new divisional structure for the Forestry Department (including a division of biodiversity conservation), and the organization of user groups. The process also helped the conservation-minded forestry officers to overcome cabinet-level political resistance and realize their longstanding ambition to wrest control of the Department of National Parks from the more development oriented Ministry of Tourism.64

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