Eastern Caribbean gets grant to protect marine life
WASHINGTON, United States, Friday August 5, 2011 – The World Bank has approved a US$8.75 million grant from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to ensure the long-term conservation and sustainable management of fragile marine ecosystems in the Eastern Caribbean, including the protection of over 100,000 hectares of marine habitat.
The Sustainable Financing and Management of Eastern Caribbean Marine Ecosystem Project will benefit Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The initiative is part of a larger regional effort called the Caribbean Challenge launched in 2008 by the Caribbean countries, which seeks to legally protect 20 percent of near shore areas by 2020.
The project will establish conservation trust funds to provide reliable and consistent sources of funding for biodiversity preservation.
It will also promote collaboration among participating countries (including governments, communities, NGOs, and the private sector) to facilitate marine and coastal conservation, protect near shore areas, and support a regional monitoring and information network.
“Eastern Caribbean countries recognise the importance of protected areas as a means to conserve biodiversity,” said E. Crispin d'Auvergne, Chief Sustainable Development and Environment Officer for the Government of St. Lucia.
“This project will provide the countries with predictable long-term financing, minimizing disruptions in the planning and management of these important habitats.”
The Eastern Caribbean is among the top five global biodiversity hot spots in the world due to its marine and coastal ecosystems. While these ecosystems are essential to the tourism and agriculture sector and the overall economy of the Eastern Caribbean, the World Bank said, they are overexploited and under-protected.
Key threats include increases in exotic invasive species, poorly planned and regulated coastal development, solid and liquid waste dumping by cruise ships/hotels/resorts, and unsustainable extraction of natural resources such as overfishing and sand harvesting for construction.
The World Bank said it is committed to supporting the Caribbean countries in their conservation agenda, in understanding the impacts of climate change, and in devising adaptation measures.