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LONDON, England (May 9, 2002 - CNIS/PINA Nius Online)---The Commonwealth Secretariat and Guyana's Iwokrama Center convene a donors' round table meeting in London next week to discuss funding possibilities, with Tuvalu among possible future beneficiaries.

The center was set up in 1996 under an agreement between the Guyana government and the Commonwealth Secretariat. Its patron is Prince Charles.

Why might Tuvalu benefit?

During the recent Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Australia small island states called for support and action for sustainable development and against global warming. President Bharrat Jagdeo of Guyana then made strong pleas for members to reaffirm their support for the Iwokrama initiative.

He supported Tuvalu in its request for aid towards reducing the impacts of global warming. He indicated that the Iwokrama Center was a major player within the Commonwealth for related work.

Donors expected to be at the London meeting include the European Union, the British Department for International Development, the World Bank, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the United Nations Development Program, UNESCO, and Conservation International.

It is estimated that further funding will be needed for at least another three years to allow the Iwokrama program to reach a significant level of sustainability.

Guyana donated a tropical rainforest to help launch the center. It also received a large injection of funds from several donors, including the United Kingdom and Canada, during 1997-2000.

Kathryn Monk, the center's director general, said that the Iwokrama project is poised to begin generating significant income from its Guyana forest.

She said: "That will help the center meet its mission to demonstrate how tropical rainforests can be conserved and sustainably used while making a significant contribution to both local and national economic development."

Dr. Monk said this would contribute considerable understanding about "how developing countries ... can better harness the potential of forests to contribute to sustainable and equitable development, lasting poverty reduction and the protection of vital local and global environmental services and values."

An endowment fund would also ensure that the center can pursue its role as an education and training center in these fields, she suggested.

Said Dr. Monk: "Continued moral and financial support from member governments is essential to protect the achievements of the past few years and build for the future.

"With so much achieved so far, it would be tragic for Guyana, the Commonwealth, and the wider international community if the future of the center and its programs were threatened by insufficient continuity of commitment at this crucial transition stage."

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FUNAFUTI, Tuvalu (May 9, 2002 – Radio Australia)---Tuvalu is planning to use the United Nations Special Session on Children to again bring the issue of global warming to the world’s attention.

The country's Permanent Representative to the UN, Enele Sopoaga, said there was hardly any point talking about the future of children when that future was gravely threatened by a rise in sea level.

Tuvalu is investigating the possibility of launching a lawsuit against industrialized countries that will make them financially responsible for the threat it says it is under.

The country opened a permanent mission to the UN in New York last year for the sole purpose of pushing climate change issues.

Mr. Sopoaga said Tuvalu had few options, and if a lawsuit would ensure long-term security for its children, the government would take it up.

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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