“From Agreement to Action: Build Back Biodiversity”

Message from the Honourable Adrian Forde, Minister of Environment and National Beautification, Blue and Green Economy, to mark International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB), May 22, 2023

Minister of Environment and National Beautification,
Blue and Green Economy (FP)

“Life begins with biodiversity, and it will end abruptly without it.”

Minister Forde
UN Biodiversity Conference 2022

When we speak of biodiversity, we speak of all life on this planet; from the smallest and most short-lived microbes to the largest and most ancient trees. We also speak of Barbados’ abundant black-belly sheep, as well as its elusive and critically endangered leaf-toed geckos. We speak of wildlife, domesticated animals and livestock, wooded areas, cultivated lands, ornamental gardens and everything in between. Biodiversity is us, and it is all around us. It is the fundamental fabric upon which the tapestry of our lives, livelihoods and well-being are woven. It is for these reasons that biodiversity must be protected, effectively managed and, where possible, restored.

These irrefutable truths took us to the historic United Nations Biodiversity Conference (COP15), which was convened in the beautiful city of Montreal last December where Barbados participated in the negotiation of the Kunming-Montreal Agreement and was one of the 196 countries that ratified this decision and laid the foundation for a decade of work towards attenuating and reversing decades of biodiversity loss. It was here that we urged the world – and re-committed ourselves – to combat the ecocide, namely the negligent and irresponsible destruction of our environment that we are all facing. This commitment was the ratification of the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF). With the ratification of the GBF, the time has come for the real work to commence.

International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB) was established by the UN to raise awareness of the myriad issues that threaten biological diversity. Since the year 2000, it has been recognised on May 22 to commemorate the adoption of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the primary goals of which are the conservation of biodiversity, the sustainable use of its components and the fair and equitable access to benefits from genetic resources. As part of the Decade of Ecosystem Restoration, the theme for IDB 2023 is From Agreement to Action: Build Back Biodiversity.

Barbados is no stranger to the concept of ‘building back better’ and our approach to biodiversity conservation and management is no different. When the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) was laid in Parliament in 2022, it was done with the full confidence that the Global Biodiversity Framework, with which the NBSAP was already broadly aligned, would be agreed upon and ratified at COP15. The Kunming-Montreal Agreement put Barbados in the uniquely advantageous position of already having a national policy document that largely outlines the key strategies and priority actions to begin building our local biodiversity back and building it back better.

With my ministry as the coordinating entity, Barbados has commenced work on a programme of action to manage and, where possible, rehabilitate its gully ecosystems. Through tackling the scourge of illegal dumping, addressing the threats of invasive alien species and rekindling the strong bonds between Barbadians and nature, and through the rehabilitation of hiking trails, we will build back our gullies.

Additionally, through work under the ‘Conserving Barbados’ Endangered Reptiles’ project, which will be undertaken with funding from the Global Environment Facility, we will combat the immediate threats to critically endangered reptile species such as the Barbados leaf-toed gecko and threadsnake, while also creating an enabling environment for the recovery of these populations – building them back from the verge of extinction.

Furthermore, with our recently completed Inventory of Wetlands, we now have a framework to support the conservation and effective management of some of the island’s most unique ecosystems, which serve as home to important endemic species and genetically significant populations. We fully intend to build back our ecosystems.

And these initiatives only scratch the surface. The ministry’s contribution to this decade of ecosystem restoration is extensive and our drive to build back biodiversity is strong, but environmental stewardship is not the job of the Ministry of Environment and National Beautification, Green and Blue Economy alone. I encourage each and every one of you to join us in this fight; to mobilise every sinew in your body to aid us in combating the ecocide that looms over us.

With your help, we can Build Back Biodiversity and we can build forward better!

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