The World Conservation Congress held from 5 to 14 October in Barcelona, marked an important landmark for the Caribbean, with the launch by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) of a new Initiative for the region. The new initiative comes in response to a Resolution passed at the 2004 World Conservation Congress, and it will include a range of interventions aimed at improving the management of the region’s major ecosystems by increasing knowledge, improving governance and empowering stakeholders at all levels (government, civil society and community) to be more effective in their natural resource management roles and responsibilities. Preparation for a Caribbean Red List of Threatened Species, a programme on renewable energy, and work in integrated planning, ecosystem management and sustainable livelihoods, and climate change adaptation, are the main components of the initiave launched today.
Senator Lynn Holowesko of the Bahamas, who served on the IUCN Council over the past eight years, found it gratifying that the only new regional programme that was launched at the Barcelona Congress was this Initiative on the Caribbean. She said, “The Caribbean members are pleased that their call for greater IUCN involvement in the region has been answered in this manner. I am looking forward to this being a truly regional programme that integrates all the countries of the region in all their diversity.” Ms. Patricia Abreu Fernandez, Under Secretary for International Cooperation in the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources of the Dominican Republic, also welcomed the launch of the Caribbean Initiative, noting that “it is the fruit of close collaboration between sister countries of the region.” According to the Advisor on International Cooperation in the Ministry of the Environment in Haiti, Mr Joseph Ronald Toussaint, “The IUCN Initiative for the Caribbean is an important contribution towards improving the well-being of people in the region and it comes at a time when the Caribbean is grappling with complex problems linked to climate change and attendant issues of natural disasters, the exacerbation of poverty and the accelerated loss of biodiversity.” Commenting on what it offers Haiti, he said, “The Initiative gives Haiti an opportunity to elevate the question of energy and ecosystem services on its development agenda.”
The World Conservation Congress, which gathered more than 8,000 decision-makers, also gave members the opportunity to elect a new Council for the next four years. The Caribbean representative on that body will be Dr. Spencer Thomas from Grenada.