Between February 22 and 26, 2017, four members of the Haiti Advocacy Working Group traveled to Haiti. Elaine Zuckerman of Gender Action, Joel Kupferman of the Environmental Justice Initiative, Maurice Bloem of Church World Service, and Jayce Hafner of the Episcopal Church participated in this timely trip. Tav Hafner served as the delegation’s videographer. This trip to Haiti followed the recently concluded visit by the Haitian Minister of Environment, the Director of Land and Ecosystems in the Ministry of Environment and the Coordinator of the Haitian Civil Society Platform on Climate Change, who came to Washington DC in January to advocate for greater attention to Haiti’s environmental needs and challenges in the context of climate change. Here is a one page summary of HAWG’s findings and recommendations following this trip:
Haiti Advocacy Working Group (HAWG) Policy Recommendations to the United States Government and International Financial Institutions (IFIs)
At the invitation of the Haitian Minister for the Environment, His Excellency Simon Desras, four members of the Haiti Advocacy Working Group traveled to Haiti February 22nd-26th, 2017 to visit key locations (including the administrative offices of Parc Macaya in Les Cayes, the Wynne Farm in Kenskoff, Lake Collinaires in the Central Plateau, and the Péligre hydropower dam) to inform their environmental advocacy efforts. Delegates engaged in conversations with environmental leaders, local stakeholders, and government officials; witnessed firsthand the devastation wrought by Hurricane Matthew and ongoing drought; and documented best agricultural and conservation practices within Haiti. Based on these observations and dialogues, the HAWG has compiled a list of recommendations to U.S. and IFI policymakers for environmental conservation, sustainable agriculture, and climate change mitigation and adaptation in the state of Haiti.
Agriculture and Conservation Practices
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and IFIs should continue to prioritize land preservation and conservation in equal parity with production, while promoting local production that ultimately leads to improved community dietary intake. These bodies should also foster public common ownership and management of environmental facilities (including water and sanitation systems and coastal regions).
Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Support
U.S. Congress is poised to enact bipartisan legislation to mitigate climate change and support small island developing states overburdened by climate change’s impacts. In Haiti, the devastating effects of climate change are evident across agricultural, conservation, and social sectors. We urge members of Congress to act in support of Haitians living on the front lines of climate change. Members should fulfill the United States’ pledge of USD $3 billion over 10 years to the Green Climate Fund and pass comprehensive legislation to curb U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.
A clear majority of Haitian government elected and appointed officials are male, and IFIs and the U.S. State Department should scale up funding to mainstream gender concerns across programmatic and policy interventions of the Ministry of Environment (MOE) and other key government departments, linking them to the Ministry for the Condition of Women (MCW) wherever possible. Both the MOE and the MCW are seriously underfunded, and a strengthened MCW could help the MOE and other ministries to address gender issues.
Land Title and Land Seizure
The unlawful seizure of land in Haiti jeopardizes both environmental conservation efforts (as evident at the Wynne Farm) and the food security of Haitian farmers and people. This issue is pervasive throughout Haiti and enabled by political complicity and participation by government officials. We urge the U.S. Office of the Special Envoy for Haiti to provide sufficient attention to and legal support for those affected by unlawful land seizure within Haiti.
Click here to see a gallery of pictures from this 4 day trip: