The Caribbean Media Exchange’s World Leadership Award 2011 was presented to the nonprofit Counterpart International for its role in promoting sustainable tourism among coastal communities in the region.
Counterpart was recognized for its work with communities in the Dominican Republic and Honduras that support tourism-related livelihoods and preservation of fragile coastal eco-systems. Joan Parker, President and CEO of Counterpart, accepted the award and said it is Counterpart’s community-driven strategy that ensure that projects are a success.
Bevan Springer, President of the Caribbean Media Exchange (CMEx), presented the award at the CMEx 10th Anniversary conference here on Dec. 4.
“Dr. Parker brings fresh perspectives on development in vulnerable communities across the world,” he said. “Her passion for community-based development in island and coastal nations inspires us, and we are thankful to both her and Counterpart International for their commitment to CMEx throughout the years. We look forward to an even stronger partnership in the years ahead.”
Parker explained the Counterpart approach at the award ceremony. “The Counterpart recipe is simple: One part community, one part government and one part entrepreneurship and investment. Introduce people, introduce common cause and introduce information. It creates a powerful combination.”
In the Dominican Republic, Counterpart works with the Punta Cana Ecological Foundation, supported by Grupo Punta Cana, in coral restoration. In Honduras, preservation work is led by residents on the island of Utila and is coordinated by Rose Gabourel and community volunteers. Counterpart’s marine biology partner is University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, led by Diego Lirman, associate professor of marine biology and fisheries.
Counterpart’s coastal communities’ work started 47 years ago in the South Pacific.
“We’ve always been about islands,” Parker said. “In the South Pacific, our island partners faced ecological, health, and economic decline.” That work in the South Pacific – as well as decades of development activities in other parts of the world – helped to refine the community-driven strategy that is now successful in the Caribbean.