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Antigua and Barbuda: Mobilizing Communities for Environmental Protection

Daniel (second from the left in the second row) and other participants of the Afterschool Environmental Ambassadors Program

A field trip with students of the Afterschool Environmental Ambassadors Program to explore the NEMMA mangroves.

World Bank

Fourteen-year-old Daniel Athill Jona from Antigua and Barbuda is beaming with joy – he was declared second-place winner in his age group in the 2023 global competition for sustainable car design. His entry was chosen among 780,000 entries from 90 countries, making him the first Caribbean winner in the history of the competition. 

His car, “The Supra Furidamu”, or “Supra Freedom” in English, caught the judges’ eyes for its futuristic features, including self-tinting glass, automatic tint and untint using advanced glass technology, electric motor cooling for high speeds and ultrasonic sensors. The car is fully electric and is equipped with solar panel glass that encases its sides and roof. Even more remarkable, Toyota, the company that hosted the global car competition, built a prototype of the Supra Freedom. 

Prototype of the Supra Freedom
Prototype of the Supra Freedom

“I became enthralled with the idea of making my dream car—one with not just the consumers' wants and needs in mind, but the needs of generations to come, the need for a healthy life, and a cleaner environment; a way to show the world that every drop counts” says Daniel.

Daniel's awareness of environmental and biodiversity issues has always been keen but, he felt uncertain about how he could contribute to addressing these challenges on his own.

This changed when he joined the Afterschool Environmental Ambassadors Program, an educational initiative aimed at helping young people understand the concepts of biodiversity conservation and the roles they can play in it. The initiative is funded by the World Bank as part of wider efforts to protect the rich biodiversity of the Caribbean. The Afterschool Environmental Ambassadors Program gave Daniel a deeper understanding of environmental issues and also introduced him to the idea that citizens, including young people like him, can work alongside the government to enhance conservation efforts. “The program gave me a spark. A spark of hope” says Daniel. 

A field trip with students of the Afterschool Environmental Ambassadors Program to explore the NEMMA mangroves.
Daniel (second from the left in the second row) and other participants of the Afterschool Environmental Ambassadors Program with the World Bank and IHO teams.

Daniel is one of the many young people who are coming together to support Antigua and Barbuda in biodiversity and environmental conservation. This collective action has been catalyzed by the World Bank’s Collaborative Social Accountability for Improved Governance in Protecting Biodiversity Hotspots (GPSA) Project, an initiative aimed at engaging citizens in biodiversity protection through collaborative social responsibility. Collaborative social accountability underscores the idea that addressing conservation challenges relies on the collective effort and collaboration of various stakeholders, engaging governments, civil society organizations, and communities to find solutions to problems. In essence, environmental protection should be everybody’s business. 

The project is implemented in the North East Marine Management Area (NEMMA), Antigua and Barbuda’s largest marine reserve. 

The initial survey of more than 200 NEMMA community members showed that people lacked knowledge of what constitutes biodiversity and conservation. They were unclear about government policies and agreements in this area. Additionally, the majority of respondents were unaware that they were residing in a protected area. A need for awareness raising and education was apparent. 

The project launched several capacity-building initiatives. The youth capacity-building workshop brought together more than 150 young people from the area's surrounding communities. They have learned about biodiversity conservation and collaborative social accountability tools. Inspired by this knowledge, participants established Antigua and Barbuda’s first youth-led group dedicated to biodiversity conservation - the International Health Outreach's Nature Rangers. The group – now consisting of over 50 young people, has organized several events, including beach clean-ups and awareness-raising campaigns. The group has also worked together to develop a grant proposal to improve biodiversity conservation through awareness building and community activities. The proposal was submitted to the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), a World Bank’s sister project that provides grants to civil society organizations actively working in biodiversity conservation. Excitingly, their proposal has been approved.

Another intervention - the Afterschool Environmental Ambassadors Program, an eight-week-long education program that Daniel was part of, also sparked young people’s interest – and action - in biodiversity conservation. 

“The focus of our educational program was not just on the problems, but on the solutions and actions that young people could take. We gave them tools and mechanisms for voicing their concerns and sharing ideas with the government representatives. One group of our participants took the initiative to visit the environmental department and engage with government officials, posing questions and expressing their views. This signifies a positive step forward” says Nicola Bird, the project director from IHO, the project’s implementing partner. 

Graduates of the Afterschool Environmental Ambassadors Program are joining the IHO-Nature Rangers. This provides them with a sustainable avenue to act on their learning and continue their conservation actions. 

The graduates of the Afterschool Environmental Ambassadors Program commemorate the conclusion of their 8-week course
The graduates of the Afterschool Environmental Ambassadors Program commemorate the conclusion of their 8-week course with a celebration.

Nicola highlights another success of the project: the revision of the biodiversity conservation curriculum for schools in Antigua and Barbuda. As part of the collaborative social accountability approach, the project facilitated dialogue between communities and government partners, including the Ministry of Education, Sports, and Creative Industries. After hearing from the communities that one of the concerns was insufficient education and awareness about biodiversity among youth, the Ministry has committed to implementing changes. They updated the Grade 6 Social Sciences curriculum to incorporate biodiversity conservation. Previously limited to the Grade 4 curriculum, this enhancement increased the significance of biodiversity conservation within the educational framework. Additionally, the subject has been incorporated as one of the four elective subjects in the final evaluation for primary school students, making it an important area of focus for schools and students.

For adults, the project launched a certified regional online training course on collaborative social accountability for biodiversity conservation. 100 participants from community groups and public sector institutions have signed up from more than five islands. 

Daniel (second from the left in the second row) and other participants of the Afterschool Environmental Ambassadors Program
A field trip with students of the Afterschool Environmental Ambassadors Program to explore the NEMMA mangroves.

Waste management emerged as another concern for the communities in the NEMMA. The project has initiated collaboration with the National Waste Management Authority. While the department faces resource and human limitations in addressing the issue, community involvement can be instrumental in providing assistance. “There is potential to mobilize communities for illegal dumping monitoring and litter management. It is in the community's best interest to maintain clean surroundings. By fostering such a partnership between civil society and government, we will assist both the government and the people, resulting in a win-win situation for all,” adds Nicola. 

Additionally, the project is extending support to another civil society group in the NEMMA community, the Fitches Creek Residents Association, a second CEPF small grant recipient. The project is facilitating capacity-building initiatives aimed at strengthening the group's use of collaborative social accountability tools to enhance biodiversity protection, waste management, and awareness-raising efforts.  

The project is aligned with other World Bank initiatives on biodiversity conservation, such as the CEPF Caribbean Hotspot Project. The latter is providing funding to local civil society organizations for conservation efforts. The GPSA project complements these efforts by enhancing the capacities of local organizations to carry out these activities in a collaborative and effective way.

“These two projects are strategically linked to enhance biodiversity conservation efforts, leveraging economies of scale and synergies between them. Ultimately, we want to see the region where all stakeholders – government, business, civil society groups, youth – work together in safeguarding the invaluable biodiversity of the Caribbean” says Natalia Magradze, environmental specialist at the World Bank and a team leader for the project.  

Supported by project activities, communities in Antigua and Barbuda, including Daniel, are actively mobilizing for meaningful change, demonstrating the power of grassroots efforts in driving environmental conservation. Their collective actions inspire optimism. 


The GPSA Project works to contribute to improving biodiversity conservation in key biodiversity areas located in four Caribbean countries: Dominican Republic, Antigua and Barbuda, with adaptive replication in Jamaica and Saint Lucia. In Antigua and Barbuda and Saint Lucia, it is implemented by the IHOand Santo Domingo Institute of Technology  in the Dominican Republic and Jamaica. 

The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund - Caribbean Hotspot Project is the recipient executed trust-funded intervention for US$ 13.9 million. It aims to support civil society organizations active in biodiversity conservation through grants and capacity building. Grants are issued based on a call for proposals from civil society organizationsworking in 32 key biodiversity areas covering 7 Caribbean countries - Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Haiti, Saint Lucia, The Bahamas, Antigua and Barbuda, and Saint Vincent and Grenadines. The project is implemented through the Critical Ecosystems Partnership Fund Secretariat, housed in Conservation International, with strong support from Caribbean Natural Resources Institute which acts as Regional Implementing Entity. 



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