Key initiatives build bridges for protected areas management in the Caribbean

25 July 2013 | Article

Regional meetings of two major initiatives focused on protected areas management and biodiversity conservation in the Caribbean have provided space for BIOPAMA to strengthen its position in the region, as well as continue capacity building efforts at the multi-stakeholder level.

In May of this year the Summit of Caribbean Political and Business Leaders took place in the British Virgin Islands. The Summit brought together Heads of Governments, Ministers of the Environment, CEOs of major corporations and donor agencies to set a new course for the management and preservation of the Caribbean marine and coastal environment.

The Summit served as an important collaborative effort for the Caribbean Challenge Initiative (CCI), which involves eight Caribbean island nations – The Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Lucia, Grenada, Antigua and Barbuda, and Saint Kitts and Nevis – five of which have signed formal agreements to protect at least 20 percent of their near-shore marine and coastal habitats by 2020. The Initiative, which receives support from international governments and is managed through UNEP’s Caribbean Environment Programme, is focused on capacity building for the development of a biologically functional and representative marine protected areas network which is capable of adapting to climate change.

A second exchange of information and experiences took place in early July in Kingston, Jamaica, for the Mid-Term Evaluation of the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF1). More than 30 civil society grantees and CEPF partners from across the Caribbean met in Kingston for the mid-term review of the US$6.9 million, five-year investment in the Caribbean Islands Biodiversity Hotspot. To date, the CEPF has supported 55 projects in eight Caribbean countries, providing more than US$5 million to 52 grantees. The mid-term review workshop was hosted by IUCN member organization the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI), which chairs the IUCN Caribbean Regional Committee in collaboration with the CEPF Secretariat.

“Both events are significantly important for the development of program activities in the region,” says IUCN’s Dr. José Courrau, the BIOPAMA focal point for the Caribbean who was a participant. “Not only did they allow the introduction of BIOPAMA to a series of key partners in the Caribbean and an opportunity to expand the network of contacts for cooperation in the region, but they also helped promote synergies and exchange of information for working in a more programmatic manner at the level of government, civil society, the private sector, donors and technical agencies.”

In the case of the CEPF Mid-Term Evaluation, results of the working sessions are of great interest for BIOPAMA. For example, Climate Change Adaptation in Protected Areas is a priority for the CEPF that could match BIOPAMA capacity development priorities and address information gaps in the planning and development of the regional observatory for protected areas, a fundamental BIOPAMA programme component.

For additional information, contact Dr. José COURRAU, BIOPAMA Caribbean Focal Point, IUCN-Regional Office for Mesoamerica and the Caribbean Initiative: jose.courrau@iucn.org

(1)The CEPF is a joint initiative of l’Agence Française de Développement, Conservation International, the Global Environment Facility, the Government of Japan, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the World Bank, whose main goal is to support the work of civil society in developing and implementing conservation strategies, as well as in raising public awareness on the implications of loss of biodiversity.