CARICOM developing regional biodiversity strategy

Mangroves, British Virgin Islands. Image: Alan Wolf
Biodiversity

The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is moving towards finalising the region’s first biodiversity strategy:

More than 50 delegates from around the Region [were] in Guyana for a Caribbean Community (CARICOM) workshop to continue the development of a CARICOM Biodiversity Strategy (CBS).

The Workshop [was] held from 14-15 June, 2018, at the Headquarters of the CARICOM Secretariat in Georgetown, Guyana.

When completed, the Strategy will serve as the framework for support to CARICOM Member States, Cuba and the Dominican Republic to implement the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity’s Strategic Plan 2011-2020. The regional framework will complement national, regional, and international initiatives to protect and sustainably use the Caribbean’s natural resources.

The Guyana workshop hosts representatives from CARICOM Member States, regional and national Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), academia, international organisations and the private sector. Delegates are expected to review and add to previously articulated stakeholder priorities from national and regional consultations and online surveys. A key focus of the consultation process thus far, is the emphasis on CSO perspectives, to ensure that their voices are heard and their needs are met in the final strategy.

The Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI) is facilitating the development of the CBS for the CARICOM Secretariat, and the project is supported by funding from the European Union and the United Nations Environment Programme:

The European Union (EU) has reaffirmed its financial support for regional sustainable development while acknowledging the need for the development of a Caribbean biodiversity strategy over the next five years.

Chargé d’Affaires at the EU Delegation in Guyana, Layla El Khadraoui, told the participatory regional workshop for the development of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Biodiversity Strategy that Europe, which has been a “reliable friend” to the region is hoping “that the exchanges throughout this workshop will guide the discussion towards a concise Regional Biodiversity Strategy for the next five years.”

She noted for examples that the mangroves, sea grass meadows and coral reefs not only provide well-documented protection against strong waves and storm surges during tropical storms and potable groundwater supplies, but they provide food, shelter, habitat, important nursery grounds and reproductive areas for many species.

“Mangroves and sea grasses also capture significant volumes of CO2 released into the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels,’ she said, while underscoring the critical importance of proper management of biodiversity.

“Most tourists appreciate the beauty of landscapes and seascapes like healthy coral reefs, beautiful beaches and other ecosystems that provide a broad range of essential services that would be either expensive, or impossible to restore or replace once they are lost.”

Therefore, she added, “Investing in protecting and building the resilience of nature´s free services on the land and in the sea is a necessity for the well-being of the islands’ and countries’ future generations,” El Khadraoui told delegates.

Meanwhile, the Guyana-based CARICOM Secretariat says it is resolved to present to the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) by year’s end, a CARICOM Biodiversity Strategy (CBS) that will guide the protection and sustainable use the Community’s natural resources.

Assistant Secretary-General of the Directorate of Human and Social Development, Dr Douglas Slater, said this effort is collective and timely to accelerate progress in achieving regional commitments under the United Nations Convention on Biodiversity (CBD).

Read more in reports from CARICOM Today and the Barbados Nation.

[Image: Alan Wolf]

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