What is ECPA up to?

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Sixty participants and 39 speakers gathered in Montego Bay, Jamaica, on December 6-9, 2016, for the Sustainable Cities Course 10th Edition, hosted by the Organization of American States (OAS) in coordination with the Mayor of Montego Bay, St James Parish Council, and the Jamaica Solar Energy Association (JSEA).

Geared toward government officials and members of civil society involved in planning and urban development, the course aimed to provide theoretical and practical knowledge of the different factors that help make cities sustainable. Specific objectives included providing state-of-the-art knowledge of the set of systems involved in an urban setting, including social and physical science aspects; analyzing case studies and identifying best practices; and providing firsthand experience regarding the benefits of green infrastructure, energy efficiency, and sustainable transport systems.

Participants were asked to produce sustainability policy recommendations for Montego Bay based on their own experience and what they learned in the course. All participants believed that the course presentations and discussions helped them gain a much greater understanding of some of the important considerations that must be assessed in the development and maintenance of a sustainable city, especially for this Jamaican municipality. One recurring theme throughout the discussion was the need for accountability and enforcement of the existing laws and policies that are already in place.

The Permanent Mission of the United States to the OAS partnered with the OAS in 2013 to launch Sustainable Communities in Central America and the Caribbean, a technical assistance and competitive small-grants initiative, and trained over 560 government officials and civil society representatives through the implementation of four- to six-day Sustainable Cities Courses. Through this two-phase initiative (Phase I 2013-2016 and Phase II 2015-2017), the United States has supported the implementation of 24 community-level demonstration projects in 10 countries in Central America and the Caribbean.

Up to two more certified sustainable courses are slated to be offered this year: in Panama, on January 23-30, and Lima, Peru, on March 22-25. The results of these courses will be synthesized into an e-course on sustainable cities that will be offered for free through the Educational Portal of the Americas. All participants in the 12 courses offered to date will be unified through a listserv, which will allow for further dialogue and the formation of an Inter-American Group on Sustainable Cities.

The Sustainable Communities in Central America and the Caribbean initiative is part of the greater ECPA umbrella partnership.