Established in 1978, the JEMS Progressive Community Organization is a grassroots community development and environmental management organization located in St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the Eastern Caribbean. The original name JEMS, derives from its founding rural communities in the southeast of mainland St. Vincent namely: Junction, Enhams, McCarthy and Surrounding areas.
Ideally, JEMS’ geographic location is home to several national environmental treasures in St Vincent. These include the Kings Hill Forest Reserve, turtle nesting beaches which are currently being destroyed by sand mining, and the Miligan Cay Bird Sanctuary which is home to thousands of migratory birds. This bird sanctuary is located directly in the path of Argyle International Airport which is under construction and may be destroyed in order to prevent birds interfering with planes flying into St Vincent. There are also mangrove swamps on Brighton and Salt-Pond beaches.
Throughout its thirty- seven years history, JEMS has advanced from programming in three (3) established villages to include working directly with over 10,000 people within 15 area communities and providing support to over forty (40) villages, Community Based Organisations (CBOs), Youth Environment School Clubs (YES) and other organisations. With the expansion of its programs to communities throughout St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and cooperative projects with neighbouring islands and nations, JEMS has grown from a grassroot community organization to one of national and regional influence. Through support from United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Caribbean Conservation Association (CCA) it established the Caribbean Youth Environment Network (CYEN) to replicate the JEMS development model, engaging youth from across the Caribbean region to tackle environmental and development challenges through sustainable approaches. JEMS is one of the few registered non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in St Vincent and the Grenadines that remains active. With a legacy of longevity, its success is based primarily on a ‘self-help’, people first philosophy which has yielded results according the organization a respected profile on national, regional and indeed international levels (UNDP, 2000). In fact, the JEMS ‘brand’ has since expanded to include the following entities: JEMS Progressive Community Organization, JEMS Environmental Services Organization, JEMS Institute for Popular Education, JEMS Pre-school, JEMS Theatre (New York, USA), JEMS for Hope (New York, USA), JEMS Youth and Community Enterprise Development Initiative (JEMS YACEDI), Tottenham, London, and Caribbean Youth Environment Network (CYEN), Bridgetown Barbados (Regional entity operating in 16 Caribbean Countries).