Basseterre, St. Kitts, March 31, 2016 (SKNIS): Secretary General of the St. Kitts and Nevis National Commission for UNESCO, Antonio Maynard, revealed that the new 10 Year Action Plan for UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme outlined that the English speaking Caribbean countries should have their own Network of Biosphere Reserves.
This was made known upon Mr. Maynard’s return from the Fourth World Congress of Biosphere Reserves in Lima, Peru, which ran from March 14 – 17.
“We see this as an important development in moving forward in terms of making sure that the MAB Programme is seen as a tool to mitigate against climate change within our region,” he said.
The World Network of Biosphere Reserves consists of 651 sites in 120 countries. According to UNESCO, the sites are of global importance to both biological and cultural diversity and, together, they represent an almost full range to the planet’s ecosystem. Some 1,000 participants attended the World Congress sessions and adopted the Lima Declaration and the 10 Year Action Plan. The Lima Declaration has the objective of promoting synergies between Biosphere Reserves and the United Nation’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and the Agreement on Climate Change, adopted in Paris in late 2015.
According to a UNESCO press release, the Lima Declaration also outlines the commitment to “identify and designate one biosphere reserve in each state that had not established one yet.”
With St. Mary’s, St. Kitts, being officially designated by UNESCO as a MAB site, the certificate was handed over to the Federation at the 36th Session of the UNESCO General Conference, in early November 2011. St. Kitts and Nevis became the first country in the English Speaking Caribbean to have a Biosphere Reserve. This leadership role comes with some responsibility.
“Now as it is, St. Kitts and Nevis is expected to lead the way and to assist the other English Speaking Caribbean countries to be inscribed as a MAB Reserve,” Mr. Maynard said, while explaining that other non-English Speaking countries in the region were also being supported. “And so we are working closely with St. Maarten, Curacao, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Jamaica and Belize along with other Caribbean countries.”
The Lima Declaration also recommended that a “wider and more active role” should be played by local communities in the management of the reserves and the establishment of “new partnerships between science and policy, between national and local governance, public and private sector actors.”
To this end, Mr. Maynard stated that he had provided an update on the recent activities that took place in the St. Mary’s MAB Reserves that included community involvement.
“I focused my presentation on the recent activities which include the coordination of a marketing plan that we are presently executing, including the erection of some sign walls, the (MAB) website, Facebook (Page) and other public relations activities, to raise the profile of the programme on St. Kitts and Nevis,” he said, noting that this included the hosting of town hall meetings to ensure that community residents were involved in the decision-making as well as the execution of the planned activities for the area.
The local National Commission Secretary General revealed that an upcoming activity is the development of a management plan for the St. Mary’s MAB Reserve.
“We have attained the assistance of UNESCO in helping us to come up with a management plan for the MAB Reserve and in a few weeks someone from UNESCO will be conducting interviews with stakeholders,” Mr. Maynard said. “It will be a plan that speaks to the activities in the next five year or 10 years, in terms of what exactly will be happening in the Biosphere Reserve. We are also partnering with the Go Green Initiative to ensure that all that is planned will be environmentally sustainable.” The Go Green Initiative is a policy undertaken by the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis that strives to ensure that activities are renewable energy efficient.