Be Part of the Plan: Celebrating International Day for Biological Diversity 2024

International Day for Biological Diversity, also known as World Biodiversity Day, was established by the United Nations to raise awareness of the multitude of threats that biological diversity faces. Since 2000, it has been held on May 22nd to commemorate the adoption of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Every person on Earth benefits in some way from biodiversity, whether it is directly from food and nutrition, crop pollination, technological developments and materials, or indirectly by the resilience from storms, flooding, land slippage and erosion provided by various ecosystem services. However, through unsustainable exploitation of resources and pollution causing climate change, we threaten biodiversity and our own lives and livelihoods.

Recognising the overwhelming importance of biodiversity to our way of life, the Convention’s goals are the conservation of biodiversity, the sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable access to benefits from genetic resources.

The Global Picture: Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (K-M GBF)

The K-M GBF was adopted by Barbados and the Parties to the CBD during the fifteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 15) in 2022 following a four-year consultation and negotiation process. This historic Framework sets out an ambitious pathway to reach the global vision of a world living in harmony with nature by 2050. It includes 4 goals for 2050 and 23 targets for 2030.

Local Action: Barbados’ National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) 2020

Barbados, as Party to the CBD, is doing its part to combat these global trends in biodiversity and ecosystem loss. Barbados updated its National Biodiversity and Action Plan in 2020 which outlines 12 Targets aimed at fulfilling a shared vision of sustainable development by 2030 and 2035, coordinating seamlessly with our other multilateral agreements such as the CBD and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN-SDGs) which outlines 17 goals adopted by UN Member States in 2015 to end poverty and set a path of peace, prosperity and opportunity for all on a healthy planet by 2030. Through these and other efforts to protect our biodiversity and ecosystems, the Ministry’s work also directly contributes to Goals 14 and 15 of the UN-SDGs, the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of land and ocean resources.

To this end, the Ministry of Environment and National Beautification develops and generates support for local conservation projects aimed at protecting Barbados’ biodiversity and ecosystems, such as the protection of the Critically Endangered Barbados leaf-toed gecko, Barbados threadsnake and hawksbill turtle from the threats of invasive alien species. Research from these projects can reveal interesting trends in species management for replication here and elsewhere, such as the efficacy of spearfishing to control lionfish population. Through a strategy of establishing local expertise, these projects also build skills and knowledge in Barbados. This is invaluable as it gives Barbadians the ability to support further natural resource management strategies locally, regionally, and even internationally.

The Threats We Face

Despite these efforts, biodiversity faces significant threats. Change in land and sea use accounts for the largest portion of loss, reportedly making up 50% of recorded threats to biodiversity on average. Over the last few decades, Earth’s biodiversity has decreased significantly. Between 1970 and 2016, the population of vertebrate species fell by 68% on average worldwide. We must work to halt and reverse these declines as soon as possible.

Making a Difference

However, there is hope. Conservation actions have been shown to improve the state of biodiversity or slow its decline in most cases. Locally, Project Save Our Species made a positive impact on hawksbill turtles at Bath Beach by controlling the mongoose population leading to a 75% reduction in the rate of turtle nest predation.

How You Can Be Part of the Plan

Here are some ways you can contribute to biodiversity conservation:

  1. Educate Yourself and Others: Build our understanding of local biodiversity and the challenges it confronts. Share this knowledge, particularly with the younger generation, to instill a sense of duty and stewardship towards our environment.
  2. Respect the Less Cuddly Critters: It is no secret that many of us do not like lizards or insects, but these species are important parts of the environment. They are integral to food webs, pollinate our crops, and even help control agricultural pests.
  3. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: Minimize waste and adopt sustainable practices in our daily routines. This could entail reducing the use of single-use plastics or opting for products sourced sustainably.
  4. Support Local Conservation Initiatives: Engage in or contribute to local conservation endeavors, such as beach clean-ups, tree planting campaigns, or conservation projects.
  5. Advocate for Biodiversity: Raise awareness about the significance of biodiversity and the imperative for its preservation. Use your voice to champion for our natural surroundings.
  6. Be a Steward of the Environment in your Community: Dispose of wastes appropriately, never litter or dump in gullies, and encourage the same in others. Find a nearby public bin or take your garbage home to throw in your house bin. Littering and illegal dumping pose a myriad of challenges to biodiversity by harboring rats, which are an invasive alien species, or leaching toxic chemicals into the environment. Indeed, solid wastes impact humans negatively also – a recent study detected microplastics in the blood from 17 of 22 volunteers in the Netherlands. Microplastics can trigger oxidative stress, interfere with gut microflora, and degrade reproductive health.

“Be Part of the Plan” is a call to action for us all to halt and reverse the loss of biodiversity by supporting the implementation of the K-M GBF. Every action, no matter how modest, holds significance. While the global community has made steps in the right direction, the 2020 Sustainable Development Goals Report concluded that this must be the Decade of Action if we are to meet the Sustainable Development Goals and its vision of prosperity by 2030. Let us all unite and “Be Part of the Plan”, collaborating to safeguard and uphold our invaluable biodiversity. Ultimately, our future hinges on it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *