Caribbean Challenge Initiative and Protection of Marine Ecosystem

Non-Aligned Movement has reaffirmed the importance of measures to ensure the sustainable management of marine biodiversity and ecosystems, including fish stocks, which contribute to food security and poverty eradication efforts, including through ecosystem approaches to ocean management, and to address the adverse effects of climate change on the marine environment and marine biodiversity. The Movement has called on all countries to promote and cooperate in the full, open and prompt exchange of relevant scientific, technological, technical, socio-economic and legal information related to the protection of coral reefs and related marine ecosystems.

A prominent example of regional cooperation to protect the marine ecosystem is the Caribbean Challenge Initiative (CCI). CCI was launched in 2008 by 11 countries and territories – Bahamas, British Virgin Islands, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica Puerto Rico, Saint Kitts & Nevis, Saint Lucia. Saint Vincent & the Grenadines and U.S. Virgin Islands. Under the CCI, the 11 states and territories have committed to: 1) conserve at least 20% of their nearshore environments by 2020 (the 20-by-20 goal)-effectively tripling marine protected area coverage in the region; and 2) ensure that these conserved areas are effectively managed into the future through a reliable, long-term finance structure. To provide CCI governments with the reliable, long-term support needed to achieve their CCI commitments, the Caribbean Biodiversity Fund (CBF) was established.

NAM Member States have actively worked towards realizing these goals of environment protection. Jamaica has long recognized the importance of responsibly managing its coastal and marine resources. In Phase 1 of the CCI, Jamaica developed a project for the strengthening of the operational and financial sustainability of the protected areas system and committed US$750,000 to the Caribbean Biodiversity Trust Fund. In Phase II, Jamaica is in the process of developing a National Action Plan for implementation. by 2020, the Jamaica Government will have 25% of its marine environment protected.

Bahamas joined the Caribbean Challenge Initiative (CCI) in an effort to meet its obligations of the Programme of Work on Protected Areas (PoWPA) under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. Since the inception of the CCI, Bahamas has declared its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) as the first shark and ray sanctuary in the Americas, increased the footprint of national parks to over two million acres, banned long line fishing and established the Bahamas Protected Areas Fund (BPAF) Act, 2014. Bahamas’ main priority actions under the CCI are the establishment of the Bahamas Protected Areas Fund (BPAF), the provision of sustainable financing for the BPAF and also the expansion of the marine protected areas system. The Bahamian government committed to protect and effectively manage at least 20% of its nearshore marine environment by 2020. Today, over 13 million acres are protected, or 10% of the country’s nearshore environment, bringing Bahamas halfway to its committed goal.

Dominican Republic has established national parks and marine managed areas around the country from Samana Bay to Parque Nacional del Este. These protected areas promote sustainable fisheries, coral reefs and mangroves conservation, and also support the government’s commitment to protect 20% of its marine and nearshore environment by 2020 through the Caribbean Challenge Initiative. Haiti has undertaken management of the Three Bays National Park and the development of a robust mangrove restoration program. The country is also making use of the experiences and knowledge of the local committee to realize the goals of CCI. In Île à Vache, an island in Haiti, residents planted 150,000 mangrove seedlings in 2014 alone, with an additional 25,000 planted the next year. The country is also introducing sustainable farming methods to reduce the erosion of soil into coastal waters and provide alternative food sources to take pressure off the fish populations.

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