Biodiversity refers to both the wealth of living things and the unique ecosystems in which they fit. All these organisms and systems have been forged over hundreds of millions of years to produce the overwhelming variety of life we see today. They are the greatest testament to our planet’s unique place as the home to the only life we know of.
“As part of this global biodiversity ourselves it is also our home. Our only home.”
Every person on this planet 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 bestowed by ecosystem services. However, through unsustainable exploitation of resources and pollution causing climate change, we threaten biodiversity and our own lives and livelihoods. The latest Global Land Outlook 2 (GLO2) report by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) presents a sobering warning that our mismanagement and misuse of land resources – that is soil, water and biodiversity – threatens the survival of many species on Earth, including our own.
International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB), or World Biodiversity Day, was established by the United Nations (UN) to raise awareness of the myriad issues that threaten biological diversity. Since the year 2000, it has been held on May 22nd to commemorate the adoption of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) whose primary goals are: the conservation of biodiversity; the sustainable use of its components; and the fair and equitable access to benefits from genetic resources.
Barbados, as Party to the CBD and the UNCCD, is doing its part to combat these global trends in biodiversity and ecosystem loss. Barbados has coordinated with the CBD to develop the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, which follows the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and charts new goals and strategies for conservation and sustainability globally for the next decade and beyond. The Ministry of Environment and National Beautification (MENB) develops and generates support for local conservation projects aimed at protecting Barbados’ biodiversity and ecosystems, such as the protection of the endemic leaf-toed gecko. Through a strategy of establishing local expertise, these projects also build local capacity and knowledge. This is invaluable as it gives Barbadians the ability to support further natural resource management strategies locally, regionally, and even internationally.
In 2002, Barbados’ National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) was first laid in Parliament serving as the nation’s guiding policy for biodiversity conservation. After assessing its implementation over the years, the MENB used these lessons learned to revise the NBSAP. This updated document was endorsed by Cabinet in 2021 and will soon be laid in Parliament as the new guiding policy for biodiversity conservation, management and sustainable development in Barbados.
The NBSAP outlines 12 Targets aimed at fulfilling a shared vision of sustainable development for the next 15 years, 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 MENB’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. It is by design that this aligns with the NBSAP Target 3, to reduce the loss of natural habitats and Target 8, to designate 17% of terrestrial and inland water and 10% of marine and coastal areas as interconnected protected areas. Work has already started in the Ministry towards the achievement of these targets. Regarding Target 9, which aims to identify and protect threatened species of flora and fauna we commit to developing and implementing policies of natural and social heritage conservation to preserve significant natural features, habitats and species within and outside the Barbados National Park. Conserving nature’s stage is the most holistic strategy of nature stewardship.
“One hand cyan clap”
This year, the theme for World Biodiversity Day is “building a shared future for all life”. 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. These goals are lofty but achievable and we are devoted to continuing to do our part to protect our biodiversity and, by extension, the lives and livelihoods of all Barbadians. Everybody has a part to play, every person a piece of the puzzle in Barbados’ social-ecological landscape. The Convention on Biological Diversity’s website gives an enlightening list of actions to support biodiversity for anyone, including businesses, museums, and libraries. We are all in it together.