UNESCO MAB Conference approves three year action plan

Basseterre, St. Kitts, April 04, 2013 (SKNIS): A Ministerial Declaration and a Three-Year Action Plan are the two substantial outcomes of the UNESCO Inter-Ministerial and Experts Conference on Biosphere Reserves in the Caribbean Sub Region which was held in St. Kitts last week.

The Ministerial Declaration which was agreed upon by the seven attending Ministers, UNESCO Officials and other Heads of Delegations representing St. Kitts and Nevis, Jamaica, Curacao, Dominica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Maarten, Bahamas, Antigua and Barbuda as well as Trinidad and Tobago saw the countries affirming seven areas.

SKNIS Photo: From Left – St. Kitts & Nevis UNESCO National Commission Secretary General Antonio Maynard, Expert and UNESCO Consultant, MAB Dr. Antonio Abreu, St. Kitts & Nevis Prime Minister The Right Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas, Dir. of UNESCO Regional Office for Science and Technology Dr. Jorge Grandi and St. Kitts & Nevis Min responsible for UNESCO Hon. Nigel Carty at Head Table during Opening Ceremony

Specifically, they agreed to: work with each other “to establish at least one Biosphere Reserve in each Caribbean Small Island State,” to “establish and support National Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Committees or MAB Focal Points in each Caribbean State,” to “promptly identify and designate one MAB site in each state on the basis of a consensus-driven agreement” between all stakeholders, and “to prepare, with the technical assistance of UNESCO MAB experts, a robust application for the Biosphere Site to be inscribed on the World Network of Biosphere Reserves.”

The Small Island Developing States (SIDS) representatives also consented to: “empower UNESCO to identify and secure extra-budgetary funds to facilitate and enable the Caribbean Island States to prepare, initiate and develop a local Biosphere site,” “to explore with UNESCO all possible partnerships towards the establishment of the Caribbean Small Island States MAB Network and the integration with other thematic and regional Biosphere Networks,” and “to encourage UNESCO to collaborate with other regional and sub-regional institutions with similar programmes and appropriate expertise.”

Ministers in attendance were Honourable Hilson Baptiste of Antigua and Barbuda, Honourable Kenneth Darrox of Dominica, Honourable James Fletcher of St. Lucia, Honourable Ian Hayles Minister of State of Jamaica, Honourable Silveria Jacobs of St. Maarten, Honourable Nigel Carty of St. Kitts and Honourable Troy Liburd of Nevis.

Conference Delegates were also in agreement with the Three-Year Work Plan which has a main objective of the creation of a network of Biosphere Reserves in the Caribbean Small Islands States, to which has been assigned organized actions including guidance and technical assistance in choosing the appropriate locations for the establishment of new Biosphere Reserves in those countries that still don’t have any. Another main objective is the promotion of Biosphere Reserves as tools for innovative projects and as such has to identify specific initiatives, leading to the creation of new products, services and employment based on the conservation and sustainable use of the natural resources in each participating State.

Actions therefore include: identification of relevant sectors in which such possible projects might be established. At the conclusion of the MAB Conference, the attending Ministers and UNESCO Officials favoured the local media with a Press Conference during which chiefly the components of the Ministerial Declaration and the Three-Year Action Plan as well as the potential of Biosphere Reserves were explored.

Approximately 60 local, regional, and international delegates attended the first-ever UNESCO Inter-Ministerial and Experts Conference on Biosphere Reserves in the Caribbean Sub Region.

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