Sir Richard Branson
Photo Credit: guardian.co.uk
Deputy Premier and Minister for Natural Resources and Labour, Hon. Kedrick Pickering said upcoming meetings that will bring regional business and political leaders to the Territory to discuss environment issues will not be a "talk shop".
Earlier this month, the Minister attended a planning meeting of senior officials in Jamaica ahead of a major summit. It was the first of a series of three meetings to be held at various Caribbean locations to prepare for the summit in the BVI.
In a recent statement in the House of Assembly, Minister Pickering said that initiative is being spearheaded by Grenada's Prime Minister, Tillman Thomas and assisted by Sir Richard Branson.
According to the Minister, the meetings are scheduled to take place on Necker Island and Bitter End in North Sound, Virgin Gorda in the second quarter of 2013.
The Minister explained that the summit, which will be the first of its kind in the region, is being organized as the second phase of the Caribbean Challenge Initiative. The initiative, according to Minister Pickering, was originally launched in 2008 after a meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity in Bonn, Germany.
Eight countries launched this Caribbean Challenge in an effort to encourage political leaders to protect and sustainably manage the coastal and marine environment across the entire Caribbean.
The Minister explained that countries that joined the Caribbean Challenge Initiative have committed to conserve at least 20% of their near-shore marine and coastal environment by the year 2020 and have also committed to instituting mechanisms that will generate long-term funding for protection of the marine and coastal environment.
"The BVI has a long history of protected areas management, as our first protected areas were declared in the 1950s...a plan for a system of marine protected areas has already been undertaken by the BVI National Parks Trust, Conservation and Fisheries Department and the Town and Country Planning Department. This national plan was created in an effort to ensure that sustainable coastal tourism and fisheries are carried out in the Territory, and that these areas are declared and protected under the National Parks and Fisheries Acts," Minister Pickering stated.
He added that the commitments under the Caribbean Challenge are not foreign to the BVI and the Territory is well positioned at this time to take up the challenge and follow the precedent of elders who went before, by setting aside more of its natural areas for protection.
"This Summit will not be a talk shop, but rather a coming together of political and business leaders who are serious about the legacy we intend to leave for future generations," Minister Pickering stated.