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Islands urged to promote biodiversity

Tuesday, May 27, 2014
There were concerns about the fish stocks in La Brea and south Trinidad after the December 17 oil spill. PHOTO: RISHI RAGOONATH

Caribbean islands, like T&T, need to protect their eco-sensitive natural resources against increasing threats such as climate change and overfishing to ensure sustainability. 


This was the message from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Caribbean Environment Programme (CEP) last week as it marked International Day For Biological Diversity which was celebrated worldwide.


UNEP/CEP, through a media release, said, increasing threats to the natural resources of the world’s islands, especially Small Island Developing States (SIDS), contributes to food insecurity and a decrease in viable employment. 


“There is a critical need to recognise the value of these resources and to promote more bold actions towards their sustainable use and conservation,” the release stated.


Christopher Corbin, UNEP-CEP Programme Officer Assessment and Management of Environmental Pollution (AMEP), in the release, stated that within the Caribbean the main sources of marine pollution are sewage, oil, sediments, nutrients, pesticides, solid waste, marine debris, and toxic substances. 


He said the ecological health of marine and coastal resources, as well as, people’s ability to use areas for cultural, economic and recreational purposes, in particular for SIDS, “are restricted by polluting impacts.”


Corbin contended that regional projects and activities taking place within the framework of UNEP-CEP legal agreements on Land Based Sources of Marine Pollution and Oil Spills supports the Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW) sub-programme in maintaining the value of biodiversity in the Caribbean.


The theme Island Biodiversity was chosen as the theme for this year’s celebrations. 


Nelson Andrade Colmenares, co-ordinator for UNEP-CEP stated that he was happy with the theme since it will bring the world’s attention to the importance of these fragile and increasingly threatened ecosystems and will hopefully galvanise international support to Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in protecting them. 


For 2014, UNEP/CEP will be hosting a regional photo competition through its Facebook and Twitter pages under the theme Biodiversity Through Your Eyes, with emphasis on how biodiversity sustains livelihoods and to highlight “Island Biodiversity.”


Alessandra Vanzella-Khouri, Programme Officer for (SPAW) stated that the sub-programme remains committed to helping countries across the wider Caribbean region to conserve and sustainably use marine biodiversity, which is the backbone of the region’s economies. 


International Day For Biological Diversity day is observed annually on May 22 and aims to raise awareness on the importance of biodiversity for islands and the need for island states to sustainably manage their resources.


United Nations has declared 2014 as the International Year of Small Island Developing States to celebrate the contributions that this group of countries makes to the world.


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