Secretary General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Ambassador Irwin LaRocque has charged the Region to lead in ensuring the destiny of the planet. His charge came in a statement to commemorate World Environment Day today, Monday 5 June 2017.
See below the statement from the CARICOM SG:
On the occasion of World Environment Day, the Caribbean Community would like to remind the Region that environmental stewardship is the responsibility of everyone.
We support this year’s theme, “Connecting People to Nature”, which calls upon us to have a greater appreciation of the beauty of nature and the crucial role humanity plays in protecting fragile natural resources.
The Caribbean is blessed with an abundance of natural resources, from the pristine islands of The Bahamas to the dense jungles of Suriname, from the vibrant coral reefs of Belize to the energy-rich volcanic island of Montserrat. The resources harvested from our lands and from the Caribbean Sea have sustained our people for thousands of years. Our ancestors did so sustainably, taking only what they needed and storing for those leaner days.
Historically, our societal and cultural practices have been intertwined with our natural patrimony, including through our culinary expression. We have used our rivers, waterfalls and beaches as places for co-mingling and communing with nature. Our artists have been inspired by their natural surroundings.
However, our environmental resources continue to be adversely affected by human activity and natural disasters and this is exacerbated by the effects of climate change. Climate change is real. We are living it. Rising temperatures are threatening food production, killing our reefs and burning our forests. Rising sea levels are flooding our low lands, contaminating our water supply and eroding our beaches. Global warming gives rise to more severe weather events of greater intensity and frequency including hurricanes, drought and excessive rainfall. These are causing more loss of life and creating more havoc than ever before. New and more infectious diseases are cropping up, challenging our ability to respond to them.
We played an important role in ensuring that the Paris Agreement on Climate Change was concluded and addressed the needs of Small Island and low-lying coastal Developing States (SIDS). It is therefore with deep disappointment that we have received the news of the withdrawal of the United States.
It must be noted that environmental and natural resources management is an integral part of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas which governs our Community. The promotion of environmental resilience is among the priorities identified in the CARICOM Strategic Plan for the period 2015-2019, with one of the stated goals being to “ensure effective management of the natural resources across Member States”.
The Region is responding through the development of a Caribbean Community Natural Resource Policy Framework and Action Plan. We are now at the stage where Member States are about to engage in national stakeholder consultations on the Draft Policy and Action Plan which will see the involvement of civil society, including the indigenous fishing communities which are often on the frontlines, as well as the private sector.
The theme selected for this year’s World Environment Day Celebration is therefore timely. Healthy Societies and economies are dependent on a healthy environment. Our citizens should be encouraged to consider ways by which they can take advantage of the extensive natural heritage with which this Region has been blessed and how they can play a part in safeguarding it for our future generations.
The destiny of the planet is in our hands. We cannot depend on others. We must lead. Others will follow our lead.