Following is a statement from The Caribbean Public Health Agency in observance of World Environment Day, June 5, 2020.
The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) recognises World Environment Day as a time to call to action all governments and citizens of CARPHA member states to do their part to safeguard Caribbean Biodiversity through: legislation and enforcement, sustainable development, an end to all types of pollution, use of best practices in agriculture, manufacturing, and solid waste management and better education and awareness of its citizens on the importance of Caribbean Biodiversity and how every citizen can participate in reducing ecosystem and biodiversity loss.
World Environment Day 2020: Biodiversity
World Environment Day 2020 is observed globally. It aims to increase awareness, care and support for the Earth and the environment. This year’s theme Biodiversity is a call to action to stop the loss of species and degradation of the natural world, both of which are accelerating.
Inger Andersen, executive director of the UNEP, emphasised that “World Environment Day is a powerful platform to accelerate, amplify and engage people, communities and governments around the world to take action on critical environmental challenges facing the planet”.
What is Biodiversity?
Biodiversity is the variety of living things within an ecosystem or habitat (land, freshwater, ocean) that compose life on Earth and encompasses all species on the planet from fungi and bacteria to plants and animals, their ecosystems and the genetic diversity found in them.
What is the state of Biodiversity in the Caribbean?
While ecosystems provide critical support to the wellbeing and development of the Caribbean, they are under threat by human activities. Over 75 per cent of Caribbean coral reefs are considered to be under threat, and over 30 per cent are classified as either highly or very highly threatened (UNEP, 2016). The rates of mangrove loss in the Caribbean are among the highest in the world.
Importance of Biodiversity in the Caribbean
The Caribbean Region is one of the world’s top biodiversity hotspots – possessing rich endemic species that are under severe and increasing threat. A healthy ecosystem has a rich biodiversity and is important in sustaining the lives of Caribbean people, including cleaning the air, purifying water, providing food, shelter, natural medicines/raw materials, recreation, fuel, climate resilience and storm protection.
Additionally, healthy Caribbean ecosystems provide critical services that support local, regional economies and livelihoods (agriculture, tourism) and offer cost-efficient climate change solutions.
Biodiversity and the Tourism Industry
In the Caribbean, the tourism industry represents one of the main drivers of regional economies, thus island biodiversity, marine and coastal biodiversity, forests, and invasive species (lion fish, sargassum), are crucial issues that need to be taken into consideration by the tourism sector.
Biodiversity is essential for the continued development of the tourism industry with respect to its role in creating national parks, sanctuaries and reserves, as well as helping to conserve animal species and ecosystems. (PR)