The year 2018 marks 25 years since the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) entered into force on 29 December 1993 after the 30th ratification. It is significant that five CARICOM Member States ratified the Convention (Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados and Saint Kitts and Nevis) or acceded to it (Saint Lucia) to bring about this significant outcome. From 28 November to 9 December 1994, the first Conference of Parties to the CBD (COP1) was held in Nassau, Bahamas, an important achievement for a CARICOM Member State.
The theme for this year’s International Day of Biological Diversity is “Celebrating 25 Years of Action for Biodiversity”. The CARICOM Secretariat joins the CBD Secretariat in using this Silver Jubilee anniversary of the Convention to highlight progress made to advance the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, agreed to at the Tenth Meeting of the Conference of Parties to the CBD in Nagoya, Japan, which launched the Aichi Biodiversity Targets.
At the regional level, the Strategic Plan for the Caribbean Community 2015-2019, commits the CARICOM Secretariat to promoting sustainable use and management of biodiversity, as well as enhancing regional capacity to address Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ). One notable effort in that direction is the implementation of the Caribbean Hub sub-component of Phase II of the Programme for Capacity Building related to Multilateral Environment Agreements in ACP countries with generous funding from the European Union, and under the coordination of United Nations Environment Programme. The CARICOM Secretariat is facilitating the preparation of a Caribbean Biodiversity Strategy 2018-2023 to become the framework for regional level assistance to CARICOM Member States, Cuba and the Dominican Republic in their implementation of the CBD Strategic Plan, and development of the Caribbean component of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework process.
The soon to be released Caribbean Biodiversity Outlook highlights trends, patterns and commonalities in biodiversity status, pressures and impact across CARICOM. It shines a light on the range of responses that are being taken at the national and regional levels to help the countries of CARICOM achieve the shared vision and goals of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020.
The CARICOM Secretariat wishes to commend the ongoing work in the region of the various biodiversity officials as well as the various environmental Non-Governmental Organisations, both at the national and regional levels including those serving in Regional Institutions. We believe that public awareness and education are essential in ensuring that locals as well as visitors to our region are sensitised on how biodiversity conservation efforts at all levels will lead to the continued ability of ecosystems to provide the range of services to support lives and livelihoods.
As we celebrate World Biodiversity Day, it should also be highlighted that in the upcoming months, in pursuance of the development of a legally binding International Agreement under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) on the conservation and sustainable use of marine resources (BBNJ), the CARICOM Secretariat will be partnering with Member States and Institutions to broaden awareness of the instrument among CARICOM stakeholders
The Secretariat therefore remains committed to collaborating with Member States, the Regional Institutions and other regional and international partners in ensuring the conservation of biological diversity for sustainable development.