On Tuesday 15th of November 2022, the Honourable Minister Adrian Forde laid the Barbados National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) 2020 as a resolution before the Barbados Parliament. Minister Forde explained that the NBSAP, backed by a $220,000 USD grant from the Global Environment Facility (GEF), provides a strategic action plan to protect biodiversity now and for the future for Barbados as a Party to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). He stressed that protection of our ecosystems is an integral part of protecting lives and livelihoods in the face of the growing existential threat of climate change. The NBSAP provides a functional framework to stop, and even reverse, environmental degradation through the protection, conservation and management of biological diversity set out in 12 targets, building and improving on the previous NBSAP from 2002. Overall, the NBSAP speaks to the role of the natural environment in sustainable development, recognises the wealth of services provided by ecosystems, and espouses the benefits, nationally and globally, of collaboration with our local and international communities in working towards the shared goals of natural preservation and human prosperity.
Minister Forde explained that the 12 specific targets of the NBSAP all work towards a vision of inspiring shared appreciation of the natural environment, to the development and adoption of sustainable practices to reap the benefits of biodiversity without detriment to its health, and of the mainstreaming of biodiversity conservation to ensure that present and future generations can experience the natural world and the bounties it has to offer. For each of the 12 targets, the NBSAP identifies strategic actions and an implementation plan. The Minister went on to highlight each of the 12 targets which aim to reach their respective goals between 2025 and 2035. These targets are:
- To improve awareness of the values of biodiversity by 2030 through a national communication plan to include providing educational materials to schools;
- To take steps to achieve or implement plans for sustainable production and consumption by 2030 through a process of monitoring, management and evaluation by the public and private sector;
- To decrease the rate of loss or all of Barbados’ natural habitat by 2035 by addressing issues such as illegal dumping, and forest clearing;
- To manage agriculture, aquaculture and forestry sustainably by 2030;
- To reduce pollution to levels not detrimental to ecosystems by 2030 with a focus on addressing solid waste dumping which leads to toxic leaching, outgassing, marine pollution and groundwater contamination in the sensitive and important gullies of the island, which the minister highlighted Barbados’ strives towards through the implementation of regulations on single use plastics;
- To prevent introduction of new invasive species, highlighting the progress of lionfish research and management locally and further encouraging Barbadians to include lionfish in their diet;
- To reduce the impacts of endogenous anthropogenic effects on coral reefs referring to marine management areas to protect coral reefs;
- To designate at least 17% of terrestrial and inland water and 10% of coastal and marine areas as protected areas, integrating the marine spatial plan and to augment biodiversity;
- To reduce pressures on known threatened species, speaking about the Barbados leaf-toed gecko, their ecosystem role, the bio-secure site plan to protect this species, and their eco-tourism potential;
- To maintain the genetic diversity of cultivated plants and domestic animals;
- To document traditional and scientific knowledge related to biodiversity, and;
- To increase financial resources to conduct projects and research through establishment of local products and funding by international agencies.
Minister Forde’s statements and tireless work as Minister of the Environment and National Beautification, Green and Blue Economy were acknowledged and endorsed by the Honourable Minister Kirk Humphrey, Minister of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs, and the Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Transport, Works and Water Resources, Dr. Romel Springer. As the previous Minister for the Blue Economy, Minister Humphrey highlighted the negative impacts of overfishing on the island’s fishing industry, expressing hopes that regulations on minimum sizes of fish are implemented, and again urged Barbadians to eat more lionfish to both alleviate pressure on other fish stocks and to control this invasive species. Dr. Springer reminisced about traditional uses of local plants and mourned the decline in native and naturalised fruit trees such as jamoon and dunks, advocating that Barbadians must stop seeing “bush” as something useless that must be cleared and instead see it as the wealth of biological and medicinal resources that it is.
Further support was given by the Honourable Minister Indar Weir, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Nutritional Security, referring to the economic and social benefits of developing Barbados’ bio-inputs in agriculture and biosphere, providing potentials for foreign investment. Ms. Cynthia Forde, J.P., M.P. expanded on the healthcare impacts of uncontrolled development and pesticide use, and expressed hopes for integrating more hands-on nature and agriculture studies in schools. The Honourable Minister Ryan Straughn, Minister in the Ministry of Finance, discussed social responsibility and community pressure to curtail illegal dumping as well as options for improving and diversifying ways to ensure sustainability in agriculture, strengthening Barbados’ bio-economy. Finally, the Honourable C. Sandra Husbands, Minister of State in Foreign Trade and Business Development, thanked Minister Forde for his tireless work and activism which has educated and challenged her to think about the environment and biodiversity. She discussed not only the biodiversity crisis, but a crisis of ignorance referring to the failure of those negatively impacting the natural world to reflect and consider the consequences of their actions.
To learn more about Barbados’ targets and strategic plan under the new NBSAP, you can access both the full and condensed NBSAP documents here.